2020 Top 10 3PL Readers' Choice Excellence Awards

Tags: 3PL, Partnership, Third-Party Logistics

These third-party logistics (3PL) providers signal superlative service.

When shippers send distress signals, 3PLs spring into action. The providers that earned a Readers' Choice Top 10 3PL Excellence Award are among the most responsive and respected in the industry.

AND THE WINNERS ARE:
1. Echo Global Logistics
2. Hub Group
3. Kenco
4. (tie)
GlobalTranz
DHL Supply Chain
5. Sunset Transportation
6. XPO Logistics
7. SEKO Logistics
8. (tie)
C.H. Robinson
Werner
9. R2 Logistics
10 . Transplace

With more than 14,000 votes cast, our audience heaps praise on their 3PLs, spotlighting standout qualities, from follow-through and flexibility to transparency and trustworthiness.

"Getting the job done" figures prominently among survey responses. Voters credit their 3PL partners with executing deliveries even under challenging circumstances. Says one New York-based manufacturer of top spot holder Echo Global Logistics: "They are a great shipping partner to have on your side. They have been able to pull off miracles."

With supply disruptions and demand distortions rocking supply chains in 2020 and uncertainty persisting in the near term, the ability to execute has gained urgency. By managing a portion or all of a shipper's transportation and logistics operations, 3PLs keep goods flowing and supply chains humming, through ideal or inclement conditions. One voter describes his favorite 3PL as a "direct extension of my internal team."

Along with ensuring the flow of goods, 3PLs also manage information, leveraging technology to optimize shipper operations and provide efficiency-boosting insights. They increasingly provide information technology (IT) solutions that customers can use in-house. Our 3PL Perspectives report finds that IT solutions are more prominent than ever in the 3PL value proposition.

IT is key when shippers have to respond nimbly to demand signals and/or pivot operations to provide critical medical supplies during a pandemic. While 2020 highlighted the medical supply chain, the importance of IT applies to all verticals and links.

Nearly all verticals are represented in this survey, including consumer packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, and automotive, with respondents listing diverse job titles (see About the Survey Respondents section below).

Voters include supply chain decision-makers from household brand names such as the Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive, Dunkin', and Kellogg's to well-known manufacturers such as General Motors, Harley-Davidson, Northrop Grumman, and Whirlpool.

Through all the facets of the supply chain represented in our survey, one theme remains clear: Customer service reigns supreme. Year after year, our audience reaffirms its importance in their supply chains and the crucial role 3PLs play. The most lauded providers are resourceful, responsive, and innovative, and offer the technology solutions that keep shipments moving, even when the rest of the world is at a standstill.

1. Echo Global Logistics

Why they won:

Echo began in 2005 with one objective—to simplify transportation management. From coast to coast, dock to dock, and across all major transportation modes, Echo Global Logistics connects businesses that need to ship their products with carriers who transport goods quickly, securely, and cost-effectively.

“As a longtime client of Echo, we know without a doubt that we can rely on them to not only manage the transportation of our goods, but also work with us to continuously improve and optimize our transportation strategy,” says Elizabeth Stein, founder and CEO at Purely Elizabeth. “We truly value our partnership.”

“Since our founding, Echo’s goal has always been to simplify transportation management by handling the crucial tasks involved in shipping, so our clients and carriers can focus on what they do best,” says Doug Waggoner, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer.

Echo accomplishes this through a unique combination of expert logistics professionals, best-in-class service, and proprietary technology. “These factors continue to differentiate us from our competitors and certainly play a key role in Echo being voted No. 1 these past four years,” Waggoner adds.

During these unprecedented times, many businesses have had to adjust their shipping plans. Echo remains committed to ensuring its clients’ supply chains remain uninterrupted. Its proprietary technology platform, EchoAccelerator, allows clients to streamline their transportation management wherever they may be working.

“This past year, we continued to develop and add new elements to EchoShip and EchoDrive, and we launched EchoDrive Preferred, our loyalty program for carrier partners,” notes Waggoner. “With these enhancements, we are further simplifying the freight marketplace with solutions that address our clients’ and carriers’ needs, while also increasing our employees’ productivity.”

Client Roster:

  • Archway
  • Culligan International
  • Duracell
  • Greenheck
  • Johnstone Supply
  • Monster Beverage
  • Newell
  • Omron
  • Purely Elizabeth
  • Taraca Pacific

2. Hub Group

Why they won:

Hub Group is an innovative logistics company that combines asset-backed transportation solutions and advanced supply chain management services to craft optimized solutions for each client. Their focus is achieving every client's unique business objective, evaluating existing processes to identify areas of continuous improvement that uncover hidden value and performance.

Customers recognize the value Hub Group brings to their operations. "Hub Group is the definition of creating positive, lasting memories in our 13-year strategic relationship," says the director of logistics and customer relations at WD-40 Company, a longtime Hub Group client. "As cohesive business partners, Hub Group has continually helped WD-40 improve service, ship more efficiently, advance technology, and optimize our bottom line.

"This collaborative nature is a large contributor to making us better than we are today," says the director.

Hub Group addresses top shipper concerns, including controlling logistics spend, increasing supply chain visibility, and ensuring that a customer's logistics provider understands their specific needs. They harness nearly 50 years of experience, advanced technology, and intimate client-industry knowledge to collaboratively develop solutions that give customers better control and visibility.

3. Kenco

Why they won:

For almost 70 years, Kenco has been committed to finding new and better ways to add value for its customers. Supply chains are constantly changing, and Kenco is at the forefront of new solutions and innovation. For years, the company has advocated for digital transformation and is pleased to see more companies exploring ways to gain efficiency through new thinking and systems.

Kenco is agile, data-centric, and customer-focused. Customers say they appreciate that Kenco can handle the most complex supply chain requests while being accessible and engaged with customers like a local partner. In the past year, Kenco has enhanced its service offerings in e-commerce and transportation while leveraging technology to drive enhancements across its entire suite of solutions.

As expected in the wake of COVID-19, many customers experienced significant and sudden volume changes. Customers in the food, consumer packaged goods, and healthcare industries have seen increases in demand of 30% to 200%, while others have experienced significant decreases. With a customized approach, Kenco's elite team of engineers and other supply chain experts works with all customers to help them optimize and reduce costs during this challenging time.

In addition, with increasing demands for faster ground delivery speeds and decreased transportation costs, Kenco opened a new e-commerce fulfillment center to help customers stay one step ahead of the competition.

As consumers continue to turn to e-commerce, and expectations for shipping times are quicker than ever, port diversification is a must as supply chains rise to meet these demands. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of port diversification has been made abundantly clear as many sites across the globe shut down. China is one of the world's major manufacturing hubs, and supply chains that rely mainly on sourcing and manufacturing from China and nearby regions faced huge challenges during COVID-19. Kenco specifically opened a new warehousing and distribution services facility late last year in Perris, California, to support customers' Asian imports coming from the Port of Los Angeles.

4. GlobalTranz (tie)

Why they won:

GlobalTranz is a leading 3PL provider offering a full suite of multimodal logistics and supply chain solutions. The company backs its technology and services with a team of seasoned logistics experts who share a passion for driving efficiencies, seizing competitive advantage, and supporting growth.

“If you want a fair price quote, a company that stands by their quote, and has employees who take pride in customer service, you have to call GlobalTranz,” says one customer, Heather, at an industrial equipment supplier. “We are so pleased with the service we have received from GlobalTranz that we’ve begun to recommend GlobalTranz to our vendors and customers.”

Another customer, James at a paper products manufacturer, agrees. “GlobalTranz goes above and beyond daily to meet our customers’ needs,” he says. “The dedication of the GlobalTranz account management team is consistent, proactive, and provides a high level of service in a demanding late-day order cutoff environment. Despite what kind of market we are in, we can always count on GlobalTranz to come through for us.”

In addition to its leading technology, deep carrier relationships, and proven processes, chief executive officer Renee Krug credits GlobalTranz’s people with being the true differentiator. “We are proud of our customer and carrier-oriented service culture,” Krug says. “Being recognized once again as a Top 10 3PL is a testament to the expertise and dedication of our team members.”

Today’s shippers are navigating a variety of challenges, including increased customer expectations, market volatility, and the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “GlobalTranz is helping our customers improve supply chain resiliency, achieve greater agility, and reduce costs through our combination of multimodal service offerings, people-powered customer service, award-winning technology, and exceptional carrier relationships,” Krug adds.

4. DHL Supply Chain (tie)

Why they won:

As the largest contract logistics company in North America and globally, DHL Supply Chain has a proven ability to attract and retain dedicated associates with a team-based culture focused on continuous improvement and operational excellence.

With 136 million square feet of warehousing space over 480 sites, DHL Supply Chain offers unparalleled scale in the market and a broad suite of integrated solutions, bringing greater flexibility, predictability, and speed to customers’ supply chains. The 3PL has also demonstrated its ability to anticipate and adapt to the changing market, for example, with a 2018 commitment to invest $300 million in emerging technologies.

Two critical trends today are digitization and e-commerce. Digitization—while offering significant improvements in productivity and efficiency—is challenging customers and 3PLs to adapt their operations and cultures. E-commerce is dramatically changing the profile of shipments and reshaping warehousing and distribution networks.

DHL Supply Chain has been proactive in getting ahead of these trends, identifying and investing in 14 key technologies with the most potential to enhance customers’ operations and developing the expertise, infrastructure, and capabilities to help them take advantage of e-commerce and omnichannel opportunities.

Client Roster:

  • Carrier Corp
  • Ferrero
  • Glanbia
  • IKEA
  • Siemens Healthineers
  • Xerox

5. Sunset Transportation

Why they won:

Whether it's logistics management, TMS and shipper technologies, freight payment services, or domestic and international transportation, Sunset offers solutions to best fit its customers' business.

Customers appreciate that commitment. "Sunset is extremely attentive to our individual needs and they actually listen when we communicate," says the chief operating officer of an agriculture chemicals company.

A sales manager at an industrial manufacturing firm agrees: "Sunset is the most responsive logistics company we deal with. We have some heavy demands and they always come through."

Sunset recently expanded its operations into Laredo, Texas/Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, with cross-border solutions, Mexico/U.S. customs clearance, warehousing, and transloading access, adding the capability to manage customers' international shipments with complete supply chain visibility and control, on both sides of our closest borders.

"Given a turbulent time for trade regulations and USMCA taking effect, Sunset is seeing that U.S., Mexico, and Canada shippers need a real partner to navigate the intricacies of cross-border logistics," says chief operating officer Lindsey Graves.

Sunset has truly seen the power of customer and carrier relationships in 2020. "We are guided by our core values of being accountable, flexible, loyal, responsive, and valuing our relationships above all else," says Graves. "Aside from our full-service 3PL capabilities, it has been our culture of being a reliable logistics partner in times of need that has distinguished us from the competition.

"We pick up the phone, we don't shy away from challenges, and we're personally invested in keeping our team, customers, and carriers on the move," she says.

That investment is important to customers. "Sunset takes a sincere interest in our business and makes us a priority, even though we're not their largest client," says the director of acquisitions at an industrial manufacturing client.

6. XPO Logistics

Why they won:

XPO Logistics' scale, capacity, flexibility, visibility, and technology enable it to adapt to customer needs quickly. Just ask Lawrence Silber, president and chief executive officer of Herc Rentals.

"We rolled out our XPO Logistics program to all our U.S. operating branches," he says. "We improved savings through reductions in cost per mile and improved revenue recovery for delivery. A new online portal enables us to better manage both long distance and local external transportation costs with enhanced back office tools. Biweekly reporting activities help us recover transportation costs and improve ancillary revenues."

XPO Logistics constantly improves its proprietary technologies and invests approximately $550 million annually. "We focus on four areas of innovation: automation and intelligent machines, visibility and customer service, our digital freight marketplace, and dynamic data science," notes Mario Harik, chief information officer. "In times like these, when volumes move with unusual volatility, these tools have been essential in allowing us to better serve our customers."

The company's biggest challenge throughout the COVID crisis has been keeping supply chains moving while keeping front-line workers safe. "As we look ahead, the focus will be on building resilient supply chains," Harik says. "Technology will be key. Many customers have to reconceive their supply chains, and we can help them through that process. Customers want to be nimble, they want to know where their freight is, and they want a frictionless 'no contact' experience. We've invested significantly in the kind of advanced technologies that can manage supply chain stress points."

XPO Logistics believes that some behaviors reshaped by the pandemic may be long lasting. "E-commerce growth will accelerate in the post-pandemic world," Harik notes. "Many customers are experiencing peak demands as consumers shop online for everything from food to furniture. We're helping brick-and-mortar customers shift to omnichannel and e-commerce by leveraging our smart tools and technologies, capacity, and scale."

Client Roster:

  • Dow
  • Ford
  • Gartner
  • GM
  • Nestle
  • Raytheon

7. SEKO Logistics

Why they won:

SEKO Logistics is well regarded for its customer service, technology, and commitment to quality. “What differentiates SEKO is the coalescence of our global network and seamless technology, a hybrid business model paired with global-owned gateways, and our strategic partners,” says James Gagne, president and chief executive officer.

“We have shifted in the past year to become more acquisitive and to strategically invest in operations and technology that will bolster our value proposition to better serve our growing and global client needs,” he adds.

SEKO understands its customers are challenged with rapidly changing consumer and B2B buying experiences, and the company continues to tailor its solutions to help each client achieve their unique goals.

“SEKO has been a great partner for us as we launched in the United States,” says Blair Clark, president of Canyon Bicycles USA. “They focused on continually improving the logistics process as we were building and growing our volumes, which allowed us to focus on marketing and selling our innovative bikes and accessories to the U.S. market.”

The company believes the key to being a successful 3PL partner is maintaining focus and staying diligent. “We believe the future is not comprised solely of being a one-stop-shop logistics company with assets all over the world,” says Gagne. “It is not about being everywhere. It’s about having the right people, partnerships, and technology to create the best client experience possible.”

Client Roster:

  • Beckman Coulter
  • Birchbox
  • Canyon Bicycles
  • Cath Kidston
  • Dippin’ Dots
  • Electronic Express
  • Ember
  • Escalade Sports
  • Feel Unique
  • TruGolf

8. C.H. Robinson (tie)

Why they won:

C.H. Robinson’s powerful, global suite of logistics services, combined with its proprietary technology, defines how it brings value to both the shipper and carrier communities.

At the heart of the company’s technology advantage is its single-instance, global technology platform, Navisphere, which connects the company’s entire network, providing real-time insights and visibility to customers and carriers, and driving process efficiency for employees. Navisphere’s ability to easily connect to external platforms means C.H. Robinson meets customers and carriers where they want to buy.

The company recently announced a new partnership with Microsoft Corp. to digitally transform supply chains of the future by combining the power of C.H. Robinson’s Navisphere, Microsoft Azure, and Azure IoT to meet the changing demands of evolving global supply chains. Through this alliance, the companies aim to enable real-time visibility for C.H. Robinson customers.

“C.H. Robinson’s industry-leading experience and scale deliver an information advantage, creating better outcomes and driving smarter solutions,” says Bob Biesterfeld, president and chief executive officer. “Our ability to turn data into actionable insights through our core services enables customers to work with C.H. Robinson for all of their global logistics needs.”

Customer expectations are changing rapidly across the transportation landscape, and in the past decade alone, C.H. Robinson has spent more than $1 billion on technology. The company will continue to invest in this critical area moving forward to leverage data and insights and deliver smarter solutions.

8. Werner Logistics (tie)

Why they won:

As an asset-backed 3PL, Werner Logistics is focused on providing a premier experience to all its customers, carriers, and talent across one of the broadest portfolios in the industry, ranging not only across modes—truckload, LTL, final mile, intermodal, ocean, and air—but also across strategic freight management, contract, and transactional solutions.

Werner understands the pressure customers face to accelerate their supply chains, which is why it leverages cutting-edge technology to deliver low-cost, high-value solutions.

"We implemented Werner Logistics as our 3PL in the first quarter of 2020 after considering several of the top 3PLs," says one customer. "Werner Logistics has not only handled our tactical needs but also quickly leveraged their supply chain talent and technology to make an immediate impact."

"Werner Logistics customers are in the center of everything we do," says Matt Parry, senior vice president of logistics. "As an asset-backed 3PL, we are able to leverage the strength of Werner's vast portfolio of products to create a premier experience for our customers.

"With our broad portfolio of services and best-in-class customer service team, we are committed to providing creative solutions for our customers, generating the best outcome for their needs," he adds.

Werner understands the power that technology wields in the industry, and specifically in the 3PL market. After years of investment and research, it recently launched Werner EDGE, the innovation arm at Werner Enterprises, which develops and implements the latest technology-rich solutions in transportation. "Embracing technology and our ability to build strong, lasting relationships with our customers and our alliance carriers sets us apart," Parry says.

During the pandemic, Werner Logistics' focus is on helping customers stabilize, fortify, or transform their supply chains to address the needs of their customers. Werner Logistics can adapt quickly and customize a solution based on each customer's specific needs and challenges.

Client Roster:

  • Dollar General
  • The Home Depot
  • Walmart

9. R2 Logistics

Why they won:

R2 Logistics provides supply chain management services to shippers of all sizes. R2's strong reputation as an industry leader was built on its culture of reliable service and relentless passion.

"Strategic supply chain relationships are vital to our service promise," notes Kim Berry, vice president of distribution for The Scotts Company. "R2 Logistics has been a trusted partner of Scotts for several years. They consistently provide our company the highest standard options and always deliver best-in-class service."

R2 provides a full range of managed transportation solutions, including truckload and LTL, expedited and air, flatbed and specialized, intermodal and ocean, and reverse logistics. And, backed by game-changing technology, R2's Transportation Management System allows customers to rate shipments and receive real-time visibility into their logistics network.

"To be recognized by Inbound Logistics and their readers as a Top 10 3PL for the second year in a row is not only an honor but also a testament to practicing the core tenet at R2—customer service is priority No. 1," says John Pavlick, senior vice president of operations at R2 Logistics. "I'm incredibly proud of our team for doing what we preach day in and day out—provide the best value and service for our customers, plain and simple.

"In the past year we have added new technology that allows us to be more efficient across multiple aspects of the job with plans to continue to bring on more tools that will ensure our employees are able to focus on being the best service providers in the business," he adds.

Client Roster:

  • Albertsons
  • Anheuser-Busch
  • Campbell's Soup
  • Chewy.com
  • ConAgra
  • Halliburton
  • Owens Corning
  • PetSmart
  • The Scotts Company
  • Westlake Chemical

10. Transplace

Why they won:

Transplace leverages its deep vertical focus and proprietary technology to provide customers with logistically sound services. The company continues to invest in the latest technologies to ensure innovative solutions.

“Transplace delivers the optimal blend of managed transportation services, flexible TMS technology, deep vertical market expertise, and business improvement solutions to achieve profitable and predictable results,” says Frank McGuigan, chief executive officer. “By combining advanced technology innovation with market intelligence and our $9 billion transportation network, Transplace is able to consistently drive service and cost improvements for shippers.”

“Transplace has been a partner with a superior track record of on-time and on-budget delivery across our entire North American network,” says Chris Kozak, associate director of contract carriers at Tyson Foods. “Over the years, as we’ve expanded and developed new consumer-appealing food products, Transplace has adapted its transportation management technologies to support us in staying at the forefront of our industry.”

Transplace understands the importance of supply chain consistency and visibility and strives to help clients achieve these goals.

“We continue to integrate machine learning, predictive analytics, and real-time visibility capabilities into our services and solutions to deliver greater supply chain optimization, visibility, and predictability,” says McGuigan.

“Transplace continues to focus on providing innovative logistics solutions that deliver the velocity, visibility, predictability, and control shippers need,” he adds.

Client Roster:

  • Nestle Waters
  • BASF
  • Colgate-Palmolive
  • Dana
  • Del Monte Foods
  • Huhtamaki
  • Intertape Polymer Group
  • Reckitt Benckiser
  • Tosca
  • US Gypsum





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