The rapid and remarkable success of Integra Logistics LLC, the Alpharetta, Ga.-based supply chain services provider, almost seems to defy logic.
Founded in January 2003, Integra Logistics, which offers time-definite services supporting a wide range of supply chain initiatives – in particular, intermodal and highway – went from a $1.9 million company in its first year to $14.5 million in its second year, to $39 million in the third and $55 million in the fourth.
“Overall, the marketplace in the industry has been very soft, with full truckload volumes down year-over-year for the first time in awhile,” reports Mitch Bernet, co-founder and president of Integra. “But we have still experienced solid growth, and we’re going at a rate right now to do $75 million this year.”
Saying No to Status Quo
Perhaps a more appropriate way to characterize the robust growth is that Integra defies logistics; that is, it isn’t satisfied with offering standard logistics service. The company eschews conventional, off-the-shelf solutions in favor of innovation. “We develop the unique solutions that other companies won’t or can’t,” says Bernet. “What really differentiates us from our competitors is the quality of our technology. This has enabled us to develop innovations that enable us to do things differently for our customers, and it has allowed us to gain footholds into several major accounts.”
Aside from the financial gain, this approach has garnered Integra Logistics accolades. “We won a couple of awards right as we came out of the gate in 2003,” recalls Bernet. “We were named one of the top 15 new technology companies in the Southeast as well as one of the top eight new technology companies in the Southwest.”
In addition, in November 2006, the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company honored Integra Logistics with its prestigious Intermodal Carrier of the Year award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the complex intermodal and logistics market segment. Scott rarely provides the award to a new service provider, but it felt that Integra Logistics demonstrated the requisite consistent service and, more significantly, a new approach in a segment characterized by stasis. Scott found that Integra provided the kind of solutions never made available by its previous intermodal partners.
Moreover, Scott provided Integra with the kind of foothold into a major account that Bernet mentioned, as it is the world’s largest marketer of branded consumer and professional products for lawn and garden care. Before going with Integra, Scott had endured service issues with some of its specific traffic lanes and transit time. Integra enabled the company to run its problematic lanes more efficiently, making its transits become more consistent and predictable.
Specifically, Integra analyzed Scott’s shipping patterns and routings and made many recommendations that were then adopted. Integra also provided Scott with a superior management tool in the form of its proprietary Suplaris software, which enabled real-time accessorial management as well as incomparable shipment visibility.
As it amply demonstrated in the Scott case, Integra disregards the status quo as far as solutions and looks for new ways to help customers through differentiated technology. That mission is embodied by the Suplaris technology, which Integra developed as the industry’s first fully comprehensive, Web-based intermodal and highway services performance engine. It literally puts information at its users’ fingertips precisely when they need it. “Because it is Web-based, Suplaris allows us to provide what we call unparalleled visibility in the intermodal marketplace,” comments Bernet. “We can provide real-time tracking and shipping information to our customers when they log in to our Web site.”
Suplaris allows users the flexibility to ship more time-sensitive and customer-direct business through the most efficient and cost-effective route. The technology provides the decision support tools and advanced features that focus on the need for visibility, planning, execution and speed. “It is fully integrated, whereas our competitors have separate systems,” says Bernet. “Suplaris houses the financial, operations, pricing and administration elements in one place. This enables real-time reporting at the time of inquiry.”
Further, because it is a Web-based application, Suplaris is highly scalable and easily customized for specific customer needs. In several instances they have been able to turn around enhancements to the system in less than 24 hours.
Some of the SUPLARIS software strategic elements are: 24-hour/365-day automated exception-based tracking system, door-to-door shipment visibility (down to the SKU level), real-time accessorial management, dynamic detention and yard management tools, document imaging with Web accessibility, critical shipment documentation at pick-up and delivery, and customizable reporting.
Integra provides a full range of logistics services that meet most every delivery needs, addressing the problems inherent in the supply chain economy and engineering its solutions with the technological tools that enable clients to take control of the transportation management environment in customized fashion.
“We’ll develop a differentiated, technology-based solution that will help customers manage their supply chain more effectively,” says Bernet. “They can better manage the leverage points that often create extra costs and frustration.”
Essentially, Integra has built a solutions business based around technology. “Currently, 90 percent of our business is solutions-based while 10 percent is software development and sales,” reveals Bernet.
Supply chain solutions include intermodal transportation, highway transportation, equipment management, supply chain optimization, and supply chain event management. Software solutions include enterprise solution for trucking companies, railroad ramp and railcar management, and customized reporting and information management.
Also, because the solution is Internet-based, Integra’s trucking company customers are provided a visibility to their partner vendors’ Web sites. “They can see all of the shipments coming to them on the railroads. It’s a highly effective and useful visibility tool,” adds Bernet.
In providing rail ramp management, Integra’s software runs a facility in Lubbock, Texas. “We manage the repositioning of empty steamship containers around the country into Lubbock,” says Bernet. “We’re in the process of opening a similar facility in Bismarck, ND”
The company’s main sites include its intermodal operations in Memphis, Tenn. (which also houses Integra’s marketing and sales support), and its corporate headquarters in Alpharetta. “We also have a brokerage operation in Chicago, and we’ll be opening a similar operation in California later this year,” informs Bernet. “We are using a brokerage platform that we have developed to manage over-the-road highway shipments.”
Integra’s primary customers on the software side are trucking companies, third-party logistic companies, and clients interested in buying software to manage door-to-door transportation. On the solution side, the major customers include large companies such as Scotts and International Paper.
Integra’s vision is to be the most highly respected logistics provider in the world. It’s making this vision a reality through technology-based innovation, flawless service and solutions that ultimately provide its clients with substantial cost savings. Indeed, Integra has become its customers’ preferred solutions provider, and their goal is to be the one and only company their customers turn to for these types of solutions. When you consider what Integra has to offer, it’s only logical that they would feel that way.