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Innovation Is Key, Speakers Tell Trucking Executives

October 26, 2006 — Innovation holds the key to survival and growth, top executives from leading LTL companies learned at the annual Executive Summit sponsored by Carrier Logistics Inc. at the Tarrytown House in Tarrytown, N.Y., late last month.

The industry conference, produced and underwritten by CLI, provided transportation execs with tools to help them achieve success now and in coming years. The event was open to top LTL and parcel delivery trucking executives by invitation only.

Attendees were treated to a wide variety of presentations and roundtables, including:

Keynoter Stephen Shapiro, founder of 24/7 Innovation, said the keys to innovation, and hence the future, will belong to nontraditional thinkers who utilize the seven Rs: Rethink, reconfigure, resequence, relocate, reduce, reassign, and retool.

A presentation on telephony highlighted the link between innovations and reduced costs. Lou Person, president, Traxi Technologies, showed how VoIP has evolved and how it will help companies save on the high costs of communications.

A U.S./Canadian study by Mastiogale that identified how customers choose a carrier using 20 attributes most important to customer satisfaction, loyalty and other value factors was released at the conference. Attendees were able to benchmark their performance against the study’s parameters.

Jack Pickard, president of FedEx Custom Critical, told how his company learned technological innovation alone is not enough – that it must be coupled to strategic vision. His company’s achievements include expedited, carefully handled, and temperature-controlled services.

Shipper Thomas Wright, director of supply chain management at Kohler Co. in Wisconsin, provided insights from the shipper’s point of view. “Every morning,” he told attendees, “I wake up and ask myself how we can reduce our dependence on LTL.” He and co-presenter Brian Christian, founder of DASO consulting (and former vice president of global product development at Whirlpool Corp.), shed light on how customers think and the importance of incorporating the customers’ view when creating an innovation plan.

Andrew McCarthy, product manager, Progress Software, discussed the pros and cons of RFID vs. traditional bar code scanning. As RFID tags have dropped from $2 to 20 cents each, he said, the innovative technology has evolved into one that can help LTL carriers achieve success.

Jeff Fidacaro, vice president and transportation analyst for Merrill Lynch, spoke about a bright, if challenging, future for the companies in the LTL trucking industry. He discussed the effects of carrier mergers and intermodal competition.

In a case history pulled from the trucking industry, Thomas Kempa, vice president of CIGNA Healthcare and a former HR manager at Schneider Trucking, showed how innovative thinking helped achieve better healthcare benefits for truck drivers while saving millions.
Shared services, a strategy whereby carriers combine an operation, such as billing, to achieve economies of scale, came under examination in a presentation by Jeff Keller, principal of Keller Services. His experience working with Ryder and others, he said, shows that when innovative strategies are used, shared services can create new business opportunities.

The CLI three-day trucking leadership event also encompassed roundtable discussions and interactive workshops on how to deal with the driver shortage and activity-based costing.

Carrier Logistics Inc., a transportation systems consultant and technology developer, has provided software solutions to truckers for more than 30 years. CLI can be reached at (914)332-0300.

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