Jim Berlin, the CEO of Logistics Plus, grew his company’s revenue from $76 million in 2014 to $127.3 million in 2017, a 68% increase, and to around $200 million in 2018.
Logistics Plus is a leading worldwide provider of transportation, warehousing, global logistics and supply chain solutions.
In this interview with Eversprint‘s Malcolm Lui, Jim shares how he and his team accelerated their high value sales by:
- Going the extra mile to help their customers.
- Finding and building relationships with like minded clients.
- Fostering a corporate culture where everyone helps grow the business.
- Providing technology that gives their clients a birds’s eye view of their shipments.
Malcolm Lui: Welcome to the High Value Sales Show of Eversprint.com. I'm Malcolm Lui, the Managing Member of Eversprint, and today we're speaking with Jim Berlin the CEO of Logistics Plus a leading worldwide provider of transportation, warehousing, global logistics and supply chain solutions. Welcome to the call Jim.
Jim Berlin: Thank you Malcolm.
Malcolm Lui: Jim. You grew your company's revenue from $76 million in 2014 to $127.3 million in 2017, a 68% percent increase and in 2018 you hit around $200 million. Before we talk about how you grew your company so fast, can you briefly share what your company does beyond my quick intro and how your company differs from the competition?
What they do
Jim Berlin: Sure. Happy to. We are what I call a solutions company. This is the way I look at it. When people say what is the logistics company do my answers remove things and things have been moving since the days of the camel caravans and it's a it's an industry that's been there forever and everything if you look around and whatever room you're in somebody delivered whatever's in that room. Nothing brought up there. So there's a huge industry of people and trucks and planes and ships and boats that just move things arouses when people are sleeping and no one thinks about it. But it's it's it's all we do. And it's not very sexy but it's necessary to the survival of a world economy. So to me it's a good long term business to be in.
Malcolm Lui: Can you share how you differ from the other that just as companies that are out there
Jim Berlin: I can when I say that is that people feel that the big thing I refer to the million dollar company that's that's a day's work for some of the big guys like FedEx and UBS. So we're still a small fry but because FedEx and U.P.S. are big doesn't mean they get to go 90 miles an hour or that they defy the laws of gravity or they have 26 hours a day. So really everyone every company uses the same modes of transportation because there's no nobody is closer to an app yet it will take pallet from Chicago to Austin. It's going to be a guy in a truck and a woman a truck and a guy on a forklift and burning fuel and tires tires moving. So it's the same process for everybody. So no one has that much of a competitive advantage in the way it's done. It's how it's done that we think we excel and that's because we care if we find people when I hire people I don't look this is a crazy business. Things never stop. There's different time zones as global freight moves on nights and weekends. And if you don't call that just kid's soccer game on a Saturday morning to deal with a problem I get it.
Jim Berlin: It's probably not the right industry for you and it's tough on that right company for you because we feel we have to respond and find a way to solve whatever problems arise and problems do happen. If you're moving a thousand times a day and you're 99 percent good that's still you know 10 segments that are screwed up that someone someone's got to be concerned about and you've got to address and fix. And so it sounds like a a trait of you know catchy formula but really it's it's just the people we hire. They try real hard. They find ways. Yes. If the phone rings at 5:00 they don't scoot out an answer tomorrow they pick it up and and that makes a big difference. And it's been a key to our success because we don't lose customers very often. Once someone finds us and we've grown 90 percent organically once someone finds us they they know they've got someone they can rely on and they're not alone in the world. And some of those wrong we don't point fingers we say OK let's figure this out and solve the problem.
Malcolm Lui: So you're winning the business on customer service. How is your pricing is about the same as everyone else or are you more expensive
Jim Berlin: Yeah
Malcolm Lui: Or less
Jim Berlin: It's very easy. Sometimes we're a little cheaper the more expensive but we try not to sell price. If someone's only buying that you know the you know like some comes to work for you. They come to work for you. Only for the dollar amount for the salary then you know this when someone offers more they're gone. So you need to have more of the you know the connection and the sell and then just price. So we definitely want to be the cheapest. We are always competitive because it doesn't matter how good you are two sets of you're out of the game. So it's finding that right balance point where people go out maybe a few bucks more but these guys are worth it because I know they will have my product show up on time
Malcolm Lui: Right.
Jim Berlin: So it really is that is really the customer service
Malcolm Lui: Yes definitely. And I imagine when I went to a manufacturer is counting on your deliveries arriving on time right. Not arriving on time is very costly right. Any cost savings going with the cheap keep us logistics provider got wiped out
Jim Berlin: Right.
Malcolm Lui: That delay. So
Every shipment matters to someone.
Jim Berlin: Right. Years ago FedEx had a commercial I liked it was off remember of the Golden package. And you know and the point of the commercial was to somebody every package is a go to baggage. And I tell people when we hire here you have to feel that way. I mean to me it's a show to be honest I got I think a call and I got a pilot goes from here to there. I will give you give much thought to what that pilot does and how hard it was to make the product and what it's going to do when it gets to a machine it goes on. So I'm sorry guys do which I admire. I just he just I got to move this pallet from here to there. But what it matters is somebody like you said it's either either an Amazon Father's Day gift or so you know it's something is going to keep a factory running or a cart car moving I mean it's it's to imagine somebody always took the time to package it and pay money to ship it. So it means something and you have to now even you'll feel that we have to act like you feel that way because because you know it means something to somebody
Malcolm Lui: Oh yeah definitely a member from amazon I ordered like a bunch of different items and I came separately but there is one core item that literally was the hub the glue everything together and that one item didn't make it in all the others
Jim Berlin: Right.
Malcolm Lui: Or used
Jim Berlin: Yeah
Malcolm Lui: About it. So
Jim Berlin: Right. And then you do need the of day there's gonna be thousands a day that go wrong and and so you can either let them hang and not help them out or you can say OK some happened let me find out. Let me get it moving and do the extra effort that most companies don't do that we pride ourselves on.
Malcolm Lui: Yeah totally agree with you that's the the way to win business and keep it. Can you share what the biggest drivers were of your sales growth from 76 million in 2014 to 200 million. Four years later
Jim Berlin: That is under twenty thousand first year.
Malcolm Lui: That's even bigger. How long ago was that.
Jim Berlin: Matthew ninety six
Malcolm Lui: Oh
Jim Berlin: A one year purchase order for three people.
Malcolm Lui: Yeah.
Jim Berlin: And then
Malcolm Lui: They
Jim Berlin: We get
Malcolm Lui: Grow
Jim Berlin: About 40 or 50 people in about 20 countries. But I do I mean to me we're talking about the main driver has always been the service the communication the giver. You know we give a crap that you care about this stuff. And what we find I said most of our growth is organic and we looking at our first customer back in 96 was General Electric's locomotive division and I know jeez hit some hard times. But back in that day they were the largest and most profitable company in the history of planet Earth. And so lucky for me that was my first customer. And what happened is so their customer base their vendor base. We got to deal with because we're in the door picking up or delivering freight so they got to know us. And a lot of the gee folks that you know the Jack Welch stays were highly recruited. So a lot of those guys you know what the other big companies to run them and they knew how good we were. And they took us with them. So I used to joke that for the first 10 years every single customer we have nobody even me but I could take a thread and bring it back to G somehow is all connected to vendors or customers or employees of theirs.
Jim Berlin: Well that's just that's grown larger than that now. But the latest phenomena is a guys that we knew back in G.E. in 96 who were shop floor Foreman have moved up in the ranks and are now running or you know big officers in major country companies all over the country and they remember from twenty two years ago man these guys were good. They never forgot that. And I've had literally half a dozen calls from top executives really big name companies this year all of whom were you know back in the South Florida's and G 20 years ago who are now asking us to come and pick them or already have gone and persimmon gardens and doors that we wouldn't even have knocked on. So it's really you know to me I'm a dumb a fatalist. I believe if you do a good job and put good karma out there comes back to you in this last couple of years have been showing that big time
Malcolm Lui: Now. You mentioned how these former shop foreman who you talk to 20 years ago remember you guys because you're so good. You know I've had a couple of moves in my lifetime personal moves you know had the movers come in and have my stuff on a container ship across the ocean and they were good in the sense that it worked as expected but I wasn't fanatical or jumping for joy over it.
Jim Berlin: Right.
Malcolm Lui: What did you guys do that had these G.E. Foreman's from twenty two years ago still remember what you did that set yourself apart so much
Jim Berlin: Well I've always been kind of a I was a showy but we've got creative ideas. So is a good example. So we when we moved into the GS corporate headquarters the detestation division. So we're sitting in their office with the assignment to manage their inbound transportation. Now this division makes locomotives so locomotive goes out as a four wheeler on a track with hundred thousand different parts coming from all over the world to make those things. And here I am coming from a trucking company started a company to help people manage their logistics. G hires me because they knew me for my trucking company and says you'll help fix this. So who. I when I'm nobody people bother nobody. Your G. And so we weren't getting much support from the from the floor. So we did as we went around. You've got a 10 doesn't doughnuts. Went to each dock his shipping dock or receiving dock and we said look I'm Jim Bunning Fred we're giving you don't us. Chris the old thing about cops and doughnuts.
Malcolm Lui: Right.
An example of how they proactively help their customers
Jim Berlin: We're the traffic cops. And if you see something that doesn't make sense if someone fly something in FedEx next day and sits on a shelf collecting dust for we can they could have trucked it for 50 bucks to a fiver bucks. FedEx let us know. And so they kind of OK. They they they would call us sometimes for their own interest or maybe getting the form in trouble but we wouldn't do that we just say look OK guy next time don't know don't call FedEx tell us when you need it and we'll get it to you cheap or you know. And so we started winning some support. While the engine plant for the G transportation plane which is near Pennsylvania the engine plant is 60 miles away in Grove City Pennsylvania. And they make the big diesel engines weigh it 40 thousand pounds. Big giant 16 cylinder engines. And the plant there and I would notice every Friday they would get three or four or five special trucks like you know express trucks each one bringing a pallet out of Cleveland from a different vendor. So I said okay every Friday I guess they want to get things in for the weekend but they're all spending five bucks each. When this got off in a one truck for five bucks.
Jim Berlin: So where the waste and thousands of dollars every Friday. So I put out a notice saying look I see what's going on here every Friday you get five special truck trucks we're going to hire a guy to sit in Cleveland you cos we'll send him to pick up make your pickups and he'll bring all of them in one truck at the end of the day so kind of a bold move. What happens is the guys for the first time in their life they've got their act together and there was no and this truck sat there paid for Guy to sit in Cleveland all day long and not pick up a pound so real bad egg on my face but I'm kind of bolts I going to work Monday I say OK you got me now where do we get this ready. And you know the rover that went back to foreman and they they called us and we know we saved them a lot of money FMLA out so things like that made because there's kind of know a little bit of show and a little bit of bravado but it stuck with people you know. And years later when when 2001 happened 9/11 happened. F aircraft was stopped as you remember no one knew was coming next.
Jim Berlin: So all the planes were down and G.E. had to make its quarter end for free for third quarter. And we kind of really like the most heroic time of our existence. We pulled together twenty two thousand pounds of freight from all over Europe got a plane work with some of the airlines got got got cousins agree to let the Pittsburgh airport open up FedEx let them let us their facility and we bought the first commercial plane into the U.S. after 9/11 with a cat with a message like you're not going to beat us these locomotives get made our countries will keep rolling you're not gonna stop us and things like that reverberated. I mean it was just we felt like we need to do it cause we believed in it. But people remember that to this day and then with things like that and then nose and taken head on problems head on not point the finger and blame the trucker you know are saying was always if you ask us to do it we can't blame the truck because we chose the trucker. So it's on us you know. And I think it's people like that and they remember that
Malcolm Lui: Yeah definitely. Yeah definitely. Beyond your normal logistics type
Jim Berlin: Right.
Malcolm Lui: Service
Jim Berlin: Right.
Malcolm Lui: They're
Jim Berlin: Yep.
Malcolm Lui: Looking for problems and finding solutions to it has the
Jim Berlin: Yes
Malcolm Lui: Right tool. So biggest driver the quality of your service that involves lots of communication communicating with with your clients communicate with your staff major everyone knows where everything is. Can you share two other drivers of your sales growth.
Communications and relations, important drivers of their growth
Jim Berlin: I think I mean can you communication and relationships. I feel a thing people and I'm I'm I'm you know I'm a truck driver I'm not college educated and. They've been in business school or mill I'm doing this law as a 20 year in the trucking business. But what I found is really all about people in relationships. And if you treat people well and if you are straight up and honest with them and if you deal with problems directly and not to duck them and you encourage people to grow and be more than they can be you end up with a loyal staff and a loyal customer base and then people I mean you know people like to do business with people they enjoy being with and you have to have a personality and are friendly and that's what makes them become more of a. I don't say he said in business school but it makes more of a difference than people think. And the fact that we have a very you in our headquarters in Erie and it's an old one hundred year old train stations cool as hell but everyone that comes here senses the vibe and the energy and the passion and that's something you'll find in especially our industry best thing most industry you don't find that and it's exceptional. And it's kind of contagious.
Jim Berlin: So we hired 40 people this summer and yet the millennials get the knock that they're lazy and pampered and don't want to work. But these kids worked their butts off. They see the older guys working Ardsley dive right in. It's been great has been seamless and it's just a fun very loose kind of a work hard play hard environment. And that's I think that the other key to our success is very little turnover enthusiastic people know that the concept that the salesman brings in the first job which is the operators bring in all the rest. That's big time here. So you know everyone here is helping grow the business because when it grows there's new opportunity for them to grow. And that's why a simple business formula is it growth. If someone wants to move freight all day long and for their life that's great. People want to do that. But if people want to grow and try something new every time we get a new customer or new service we offer. I say you want to try this in some ways. Try that in the image chance you get mentioned a little bit and lap times they they shine. I mean they they take off with it so that I think that company culture has been another big reason for our success.
Malcolm Lui: Ok so just to recap the three biggest drivers is one the service that you provide is above and beyond the rest of the industry. The second one is the relationships you have with not only your clients but also with your staff and interrelated to that one. The third driver would be the company culture to everyone helps to grow their business. That's not about right.
Jim Berlin: And yes and the last thing I'd say is technology and always you know the trucking company I work for there was an old 1927 formed company. And the father and son started it used to say deliver the freight on time in good shape at a fair price. That was his slogan. And he said no matter how fancy the world got. That's still what this is you know. And so it's it's it's still the attitude that that brings that delivers the freight. But on top of that now we have to do is you have to show what you're doing you have to give them reports. And the funny thing is when you're doing logistics let us know more about the customs business than they do you know what's coming in from where and when what's going out and how long it takes and so you're able to feed them give them like a bird's eye view of their business that they find appealing and interesting. And so that's become a big part of the business that we have to have a whole business. Tell us this department now so they have to deliver the freight bills have to kind of give reports and data analysis which is a value add. They very much appreciate and it helps make you stickier when they come to rely on your knowledge of their business. That helps a lot. So we are actually this year several new customers came to us mostly for our I.T. department and the kind of reporting that we can do for them the kind of analysis we can do. So that's that's new as new in last five or six years.
Malcolm Lui: Okay. Now is the technology that you have and the reporter you're able to do that's something that your competitors are not able to do.
Jim Berlin: So there's others out there that do similar if not the same. We think ours a little better but that's debatable of course. But what I do find is that use here's to me the lay of the land and in simple terms in our industry you have the real big guys they have all the technology in the world although even the best ones are perfect to everyone who would tell you that it's them. So they're big and they've got great technology and they got a lot of volume and a lot of heft but they're not very responsive. They're slow to move and they move into an aircraft carrier that they're quick not nimble. You don't mean that much to them because they got billions of dollars of other business. So it becomes kind of routine that gets kind of sluggish. That's my take. You have a lot of small companies who are eager and energetic but they don't have the heft you know that the buying power or the I.T.. So I really do think we're in the goldilocks zone. I think we are you know small enough to care but big enough to be able to handle just about anything if you look at our Web site you can see we handle giant customers and giant freight all around the world. So it's a good it's a good we're in. I think we're just the right size. A lot of customers
Malcolm Lui: So why doesn't the The big players here that the U.P.S. is the FedEx of the world why aren't they just dominating. I would imagine that they would have some economies of scale benefits from the sheer bulk their size.
Why the big players don't always dominate
Jim Berlin: Yeah I mean you think you think that mean they do they they you know. Well I mean and we you know here's a funny thing. I mean they are we we might compete against FedEx insiders but we use them a lot and there's tons of work on a project with that. I mean it's a you know a big world and we're sort of losing competition so we're all competition we're just gonna get better every day and there's times we work for DHL the Saturday show hires us to do projects for them. It's a it's a funny world that way with the big guys I think you know they do have the leverage they do have the technology they get the kind of stodgy. I mean that's that's I don't think they intend to and maybe it's just a natural part of getting so big and so bureaucratic that it's hard to make decisions quick. We can you know something comes to our phone or our desk or our computer or we can say yeah in five minutes and be on it in 10 minutes. I mean there's no there's no bureaucracy to slow down the speed of that removes. Whereas with some of the big guys it's a long presentation and it's you know I guess I guess I'll give you an example when we were a G. I brought the idea to them about a really cool supplier warehouses near the factory. And so the CEO loved the idea. He invited five big warehouse companies to come in and pitch it. As my idea I can't help this.
Jim Berlin: We're like five people. That's my idea. Where you pitch it to his audience about rousing sabotage right. So these five big companies came in the pitch General Electric and they have you know half a dozen guys in suits and they have 15 20 page power points and we'll basically say say the same thing. And then as soon as my turn on there's my jeans and sneakers to headquarters and the first question is you know how many years arousing. The answer is zero. How many square feet zero how many cranes. Zero how many forklifts. Zero. And everyone started Twitter. Young laugh and giggle at me and you know look around and the president company was you know had a bad experience when he left the building. He's so embarrassed. And I lost our laugh. I thought you know I said I know it's funny. I asked what he said but you know we know you better than anybody better than you know yourself. And that's the hard part. There were the where else. Isn't that difficult. The thing is take a product then put on the shelf record it and take it out take care of it and send it out and recorded it. Anybody can do that. It's no one how you guys work. And we won the lever that we won that contract and 20 years later we're still two rousing four G shows kind of an example of like it doesn't matter how big you are it's what you know and how know how quickly move and how badly you want it.
Malcolm Lui: Yeah that's a really interesting so. The then the day in your proposal is it because he knew that there were empty warehouses out there that you could very easily come to terms with and bring on board or you're just confident that you could hire and build your own warehouse like
Jim Berlin: Well
Malcolm Lui: You know
Jim Berlin: I did get
Malcolm Lui: Cuz I'd be thinking like this is kind of kind of risky
Jim Berlin: Yeah I know. I mean there's playability areas I want to admit. Midwestern rust belt towns as plenty of buildings so finding the building wasn't hard. I've been in trucking for 20 years and you know did warehousing you know as a trucking company but it really was the fact that we knew the velocity and the pace and the cars of putting out in our locomotives a year that mean hundred thousand parts per locomotive that's a three day three or four a day that's getting made. I mean it's it's really chaos and and you have to be quick and you have to work late hours and you have to keep and you can't say no and then he can send a truck to the plan. And then of course I do this too if we want to say OK I'll get I'll get it there. I mean something up truck left too late. And so that's kind of the. The plus that we add to the thing that most warehouses even nowadays I see warehouses that we have a custom helmets. But they needed like 10 trucks a day to ship out in their Chicago west. We only do seven. We go home with 330. Only seven. So we'll pay overtime. And don't worry about that. Nope. We've only 330. Now I'm thinking how do you survive in this role with that attitude. And this is a big company you know. So our we're just the opposite we will. I mean I piss off people oftentimes. Yep we'll do that. And so we've got to come in and work late and not has to be me. But people realize that's that's what makes the difference because people know you'll do what needs to be done to solve their problem.
Malcolm Lui: Right now for the larger company just as they go home at three thirty. Is that like a union rules that required them to be done by 330
Jim Berlin: I don't know. I mean there's overtime in union shops. I mean it assume you've seen I don't know but seemed to me like was just the company's mentality
Malcolm Lui: Harrison
Finding a way to say yes
Jim Berlin: That we reopen 73 30. We need to fit into that schedule and that's what that's not. Yes the question about the big guys and I got no knock on them I said we work with them a lot. And with a lot of times they have one process because so many people doing it they've got one S&P that everyone's got follow and you've got to fit that soapy recipes work they're fine but then when they don't work then what happens then you think on your own is that it's not right funniest. You gotta be resourceful and creative and find a way to yes. And because we tend to do that they tend to get very very set in their ways and whereas we pitch ourselves we are malleable we will we will conform to what you need to the hours you need to the demands that you have in your business to find ways to make this work. That's that's really one of the key differentiators
Malcolm Lui: Right. You guys go above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done right. The clients remember that. No doubt about it. It's awesome. Can you talk a bit more about your number one and you list a service. I think you got examples of how you guys deliver on that. Number two is Yeah at one point you talk about relationships with your clients and your staff being quite critical in your business and how your business group can talk a little bit about how you go about First developing their relationship from the very beginning with a potential perspective. The good teams never met before and how you nurture it and bring it along to becoming a client and then continuing beyond that to become a bigger client over time.
Jim Berlin: You know it's funny because it's really not there's no no no textbook or plan to do that. It's just kind of I think you hire people with nice people with personalities. You try to find like minded customers who do business with and I'd learned like you know I got a very different style of business and it's not for everybody. And I've learned don't know Ashleigh I shouldn't try to change and I shouldn't miss this. Customers I visited say yeah we won't be good fit for you. I can just tell. But a lot of people like that we're different. And I'm like this year alone I've had a bunch of customers say you know we interviewed 10 companies for this. You were like so different from all the rest. You know this does seem to me be cookie cutter and we have personality. We have kind of creativity roll it out there our style. I mean I guess there were probably 20 million dollar business in the world with no business plan no work charts no budget no H.R. manual. I mean this kind of in every day to an adventure. OK. What's what's going to happen today. I mean we had a toy we had 40 people this summer because we grew so much. And one of the guys I had I liked a lot. He came from one of the big companies. NEARY And he was in the accounting department and he agreed to take the job. And then on Friday and on Monday comments I got to talk to you before I do this.
Jim Berlin: So OK so he says I have one question for you before I say yes will I be in five years. I said I don't know where you'll be tomorrow. I said so. So this is why not a good place for you because I really can't tell you where you'll be tomorrow for sure. And so we've screened and it's kind of like we roll with the flow and in a way I mean just kind of be positive be nice to people well look for opportunities and say yes and then do it. You know that's kind of our I am Oh and it's a little bit crazy but we've had 22 years of twenty three years now. We grew 22 23 as one year in 2000 in 2009. Rudolph but we've been profitable every year. We're debt free. And it's not like you read into all the business books or the hits of the business schools but at their worst kind of well and it's fun. And so we keep doing it. I think it's funny when we first started we got like our first million dollar year. There was an automatic I get serious and you got to get more structure and organization and process in place. I don't know. Keep it funny at all. They got to 10 million and we got to 50 million or get to undermine and now we're true to me and I'm still saying the same thing. So we're keeping it loose and fun and more and more adventuresome and then planned out
Malcolm Lui: Do you ever have a company bashes where you have 400 or 500 of your folks at one place.
Jim Berlin: That sorry. Right now we have sirens. We've got people downstairs in the library. Our biggest party yet. It's
Malcolm Lui: Fantastic.
Jim Berlin: Only the legendary party
Malcolm Lui: I got from it's all your employees were invited to come in from wherever they are to party
Jim Berlin: Employees
Malcolm Lui: It up at the
Jim Berlin: Customers friends. Yes. It's a blast.
Malcolm Lui: Awesome
Jim Berlin: A It really isn't it's legendary party in every
Malcolm Lui: Fantastic for the next driver you talked about company culture the culture of everyone helps out to grow the business. Now it doesn't sound like this is something that you wrote down in a manual because you don't have the manual right. This kind of
Jim Berlin: No
Malcolm Lui: How it's been from day one and people either bought into it or they found another job elsewhere
Jim Berlin: Yes.
Malcolm Lui: I suppose.
Keeping both sides happy a key skill
Jim Berlin: Yes. Exactly. Exactly. We have. I mean there's a young woman who by 40 years old who who I've been loving lately so she came to us from McDonald's she runs our domestic trucking business and it's 550 million dollar your business. She has a room that everyone is engaged energetic. I mean she came to us without any experience in the trucking business. Well though I always say when I do the interviews I tell people I see you know what you'd like if you're a waiter or waitress. I said. Think about this you come out and you're the waiter and I would have steak rare and you bring it out well done. You can't say hey go to go back in the kitchen talk to Joey screwed it up. You got to satisfy me. You got to make sure Joe Torre screwed up again next time you got to kind of mediate that and that's a lot of times in the role of a broker. We're just one of the things we do. That's what you do and you're you're trying to keep both sides happy. And so to me it's funny the book Dale McDaniels and being a waiter and waitress is is a is a good training ground for the kind of middle man job. This sometimes is and
Malcolm Lui: Yeah
Jim Berlin: We
Malcolm Lui: Well
Jim Berlin: Ever
Malcolm Lui: I gotta know that. Customer service is
Jim Berlin: Get
Malcolm Lui: A high priority.
Jim Berlin: To a people you know people us and that's it comes down or the enemy is moving I tell people is when something goes wrong. One of the toughest things you got to do is pick up the phone and call your customer say I'm sorry without peace I promised users I'll be there. I was like I'll be there.
Malcolm Lui: All right
Jim Berlin: I said it's a hard hard call to make. And we have to do so. I apologize. Here's what I thought would happen is we did. It didn't work out because such and such but his undoing to fix it. And they may hate you and they may never use you again but one you don't want them to find out these by being surprised or find out from their customer and to you. At least they know you're you know you're owning up to it and you're gonna take responsibility and you're sorry and you try to do the best you can. So 19 year old 9100 they will come back to you once in a while they'll say I'm out of here but that's that's the kind of mentality that's the tough part of the job. But we tell people that before and I try to scare our candidates off I tell what this is all crazy late hours or we can't staff and you've got to carry your phone with you. Crazy stuff happens out the roads and you got to be responsive to something you're not really doing you know you're not driving the truck you're responsible for the driver. And so I tell if you don't want to deal with that I get it. And. Don't do this. But the ones to say OK I can handle that. Let me come in and was just a few of the different you bloody run screaming away from it.
Malcolm Lui: Yep.
Jim Berlin: And pretty really soon you find that out if you know what I tell people who are applying for jobs that come in spend a days worth investing a day of your life fear because you'll see whether it's for you. And we'll see whether you're for us. And that that saves a lot because then obviously I couldn't do this. Good. Well do you not him a big hug and say hey thanks for coming. You know I've read you know that now this is a lot easier now there's six must now
Malcolm Lui: Yep. Yeah. It's from the G six perspective that's something. A job I would really enjoy because I mean it works great right. I for one is satisfied with the plan that you laid out works to a tee. I'm not sure
Jim Berlin: Right
Malcolm Lui: I've yet experienced the case of a plane going totally wrong. So outside I
Jim Berlin: Happens
Malcolm Lui: Have
Jim Berlin: Every day
Malcolm Lui: One.
Jim Berlin: About
Malcolm Lui: Yeah
Jim Berlin: It ever.
Malcolm Lui: Yeah
Jim Berlin: Every
Malcolm Lui: For sure.
Jim Berlin: Day I tell people to come I said you know I promise you one thing I said you will never be bored. I say I can't promise you you won't go crazy. You'll never be bored and.
Malcolm Lui: Yeah yeah. What's for your fourth driver. It's about technology now. The technology that you have that allows you to provide reports to your clients and customers that all develop in-house over a year with this fine off the shelf software the customized for your needs. If this done
Jim Berlin: Actually it's actually a combination. We've developed a lot of it in-house. We do have a global platform that's off the shelf. One of the better ones and big ones in the world. But even with that though I said the best software the world has of the false foibles that's just the nature beast nothing does. I mean we think of logistics as a million pieces to it and nothing goes all of them well. So what we've had to do is even with our main platform we've got developers who personalize it or you know make adjustments to it so it fits the customers need better. And that's so we use all you know use a global platform and then we kind of personalize a each customer.
Malcolm Lui: Right
Jim Berlin: So a combination of both
Malcolm Lui: Now is the tracking technology you have down to the container at this point.
Jim Berlin: Oh yeah.
Malcolm Lui: I mean
Jim Berlin: You can see you can see the ship if you like. Which is kind of a foolish thing to do because they move very slowly but some people love that. Oh
Malcolm Lui: Right
Jim Berlin: Yes. It's like a theater you know like they're excited about it.
Malcolm Lui: Yeah. But
Jim Berlin: So we haven't given our phone app or phone Apple so you wear your container is
Malcolm Lui: Now is it because you know your containers on that chip because someone logged it in as being on the ship or is there like a RFID tag that's constantly scanned.
Jim Berlin: How we get off idea years ago and found it to be too expensive for what it does. So in certain cases we use it but generally just that you know every shipping has get logged with customs and all that so there's a there's a accessible. It pulls into all the different customs offices and shipping lines. It just pulls all the information so here's your shipment and you can see when it's handed over to Customs was cleared when it's lived on the ship unloaded on the ship into the rails. You can just follow that through accessible. No you have suffered this hackers are sort of pulls all that information from the web
Malcolm Lui: Right. Right. Okay got it. Now for 2019 Can you talk a little bit about what your targets are plans and targets.
Jim Berlin: No Target's Madeleine. Just keep keep growing. Well we'll be will be. Just give me give it your best and no luck turns away then you grow a lot. That's my thing. You give it your all. You do your best tribute all right. Now I used to coach soccer and there's times my team lost an FDA. You did nothing wrong and you guys play great. They're better team better coached. And so same same philosophy here. I mean if everyone gives their all then what we'll be we'll be no one's punished if some doesn't work out you tried you'd give your best. You learn from it. So we really I'm I'm not kidding this sounds like a joke that we have no budgets or there's a slab we don't we just kind of to the best we can and see what happens. Got
Malcolm Lui: Well how
Jim Berlin: Crazy
Malcolm Lui: Do you
Jim Berlin: I know.
Malcolm Lui: Do. How do you handle your your capital expenditures like when you know you can't just build a warehouse on a whim right.
Jim Berlin: We're dairy company so I mean we we can. We're able to find anything we need to fund and we try to stay asset light. I mean we lease buildings more than though we owned some. But we these buildings more than autumn released trucks for the autumn. But yeah I mean just three. We got money in the bank and growing and if we need to spend some we sit out for two minutes five minutes and say Are these worth it. We do this let's try it
Malcolm Lui: Okay.
Jim Berlin: And try
Malcolm Lui: But
Jim Berlin: Not to make too bad a mistake.
Malcolm Lui: Yeah I mean are there some aspects of your business that requires a bit of planning and lead time to build.
Jim Berlin: I probably would. I think they'd do that without telling me.
Malcolm Lui: Right. Okay.
Jim Berlin: Maybe they took they put some structure in where I wasn't looking. Hello.
Malcolm Lui: Okay. So in terms of business development you know do you have plans in that regard or just kind of leave it to your team to do what needs to be done to find new clients new
Jim Berlin: Well
Malcolm Lui: Ways helping clients
They have only one national sales person
Jim Berlin: Well to to this year we've only had one national salesperson the whole company. We have a couple of local people do locally. We have one national sales person and we've grown a lot with that. But here's what's happened with a lot of the consolidations going on in our industry lately. You have guys some very big companies like UPI. They got bought out by even bigger companies and it loses is the culture that they had. So we've had like top top guy SVP is from you know three or four of the bigger companies he got bought out come to us and say you know you you remind us of how we were 20 years ago the energy and the passion of the fun of it. And we've worked 30 years in the business. We've made our money. I can come work for you know really cheap you know to and have fun at my job again. So we've had this year we've had bad guys like that that are bringing in all kinds of new customers and they're they're happy as hell because they're back in an environment that's fun and enlivening and they don't feel like they're beating the ground every day. So that's cool I kind of I can't say that wasn't part of any plant. That's just kind of happened and they came to us and we tried it and it's been great.
Malcolm Lui: Or awesome people and green clients for you do you what do you do on the marketing front. Are you advertising at all or you know how are you getting your name out there so people know about you.
Jim Berlin: That's one thing we have a guy we start like four or five years ago who is really good at marketing does little of social media and you know he does a good job of that actually. And when you look at a website there's no pictures of everybody here as interviews with everybody here. I hate when I mean you know they make it a cult of the personality with me. I mean like these guys you guys do the work so we highlight them and tell human nature stories. Yes he's good at doing that. Yes actually I mean I try that out when he asks what's been driving the growth is his contribution Scott's contributions have been really good at that he's found ways to get our name out there in a big way so that's been our factor.
Malcolm Lui: Right now have has your website generated business free though I mean had people said
Jim Berlin: Oh yeah
Malcolm Lui: I saw your
Jim Berlin: Absolutely.
Malcolm Lui: Website.
Jim Berlin: Absolutely. Yes. Yeah.
Malcolm Lui: What were people. How did people find your Web site over the searching for what
Jim Berlin: I don't know.
Malcolm Lui: People
Jim Berlin: I think he you know you put those keywords in so if I don't pay for it but he just plant keywords I guess and search engines and helps find you. But we've got to I mean like when one of my slogans is we punch way above our weight and we're a small company that has is a marquee of customers like and like Google and Amazon and G.E. and we work and you know a lot a lot of big name companies that are using a much smaller company two to three years to do their work for us so we're pretty well known out there. And then winning these awards that helps. Ernst Young's entrepreneur of the year in Pennsylvania 15 years ago or so that name got out. But we never did any marketing tools to Scott came on like four years ago with a word of mouth. No he's add another dimension to that.
Malcolm Lui: Right. Okay it has. What would you say are your biggest challenges right now.
Jim Berlin: Biggest challenges though just keep him keep the same rolling again. Even if the energy is great them and the products of the party was powering 25 people and all people from around the world came in all sent me notes afterwards Hey man this is great to see because I I think a lot of times people aren't in the corporate headquarters incorporates a bunch of stodgy old suits that sit around doing nothing and they come here and they see we're hustling and working and having fun. I mean I think it changes the impression some of the new people had. So I just just keep the culture going. I mean that's the I think we're we're on a great roll and just kind of keep it up.
Malcolm Lui: Right now marketing and sales strength. Are there any particular challenges there that you might be thinking about 45 minutes or so.
Jim Berlin: I would think so. I mean it's the reason we got Scott a young kid who just graduated college here and he's helping do more outreach. To be honest I mean if you go sound Hardy. But the biggest thing we have is handling all the inquiries we're getting for help. It's unbelievably like you know the I.T. Department is scrambling to make presentations and to give reports to new customers and show what we can do. It's really it's like a bonus of riches knock out with our jinx us but keep it up with that has been tough. That's the biggest strain is just so much coming at us. How do we juggle 20 balls at once you know
Malcolm Lui: You him
Jim Berlin: Without
Malcolm Lui: Up
Jim Berlin: Losing the service.
Malcolm Lui: By people reaching out to your company asking if you could help them potential clients potential customers
Jim Berlin: Yes. Absolutely.
Malcolm Lui: Like
Jim Berlin: Big big big name clients you wouldn't leave. Call us and say we heard about your you know I remember you from G. You know comes come see me you
Malcolm Lui: Right
Jim Berlin: Know the
Malcolm Lui: So when you say
Jim Berlin: Where
Malcolm Lui: It's
Jim Berlin: We're where we will be with less man. I mean this has been a good good ride.
Malcolm Lui: Yeah. So when you say that you're scrambling to to to field the inquiries someone reaches out to you like to learn more about how you can help us. What's the what's involved in that process. That that's time consuming and something is becoming a bit of a bottleneck for you guys.
The time consuming aspect of new business inquries.
Jim Berlin: Just disturb me a present you know making a personalized presentation that you know that Scott has a 540 page PowerPoint. Well you till you put people sleep with that. So you know which ones to use for this customer and what what specific things they need help with and who's best to present and so are you. So the people that are really good at presenting this stuff are just stretched thin. So we have like I got one vice president hasn't been in this office in like two months because he's all over it. She's in Boston she's in Jacksonville she's in Denver she's in Mexico she's in London got a run around so people we can do and winning new customers.
Malcolm Lui: Right.
Jim Berlin: So it's a great problem to have but it's a little bit hectic.
Malcolm Lui: Right. So you're doing it over a zoom conference call with a screen sharing and video that just doesn't work
Jim Berlin: She does this is underdone actually. So I mean it's I'm sure they're doing it more than I am and it is a good thing. I do like the idea of meeting to be face to face the way I like to look in the eye and have a look in my eyes and see the sincerity and that helps to me. So I mean it's certainly a good plan B and I do more and more of those I'm sure we do now we do our I.T. presentations bye my internet but I still like to go. We select to go see people and I think that's an extra piece of that
Malcolm Lui: Yeah. And in today's world I think it's it's becoming increasingly rare that people do that. So when you do
Jim Berlin: All
Malcolm Lui: Do
Jim Berlin: Right.
Malcolm Lui: It it stands out as well.
Jim Berlin: Yep yep.
Malcolm Lui: Three last questions for you. Say
Jim Berlin: Ok.
Malcolm Lui: You're on a normally I talk about cars and freeways but in your particular case let's talk about trains. So you're on a train and it's cruising around at 60 miles per hour. And there's a billboard along the train and you have typically you have only six seconds. They see a billboard traveling at that speed. What is the billboard message for Logistics Plus .
Jim Berlin: Leave the grabbing us.
Malcolm Lui: That's a good one. And two final questions for you Who are your ideal customers and what's the best way for them to reach you.
Jim Berlin: No I do go somewhere we we do I say we do Google phones and we do locomotives I mean you can a big big gap between those. So you know doesn't not no one's too big no it's too small. And the best way to reach us is through our website with just six plus dot net
Malcolm Lui: Ok. Fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing how you grew a business off us. Jim I really appreciate it.
Jim Berlin: Much pleasure Malcolm. Thank you.
Malcolm Lui: We've been speaking with Jim Berlin, the CEO of Logistics Plus, about his company's rapid growth. For interviews with other fast growing high value sales companies, or to learn how we can accelerate your firm's high value sales through automation, visit Eversprint.com.
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