One-stop-shop technology is the future of logistics, according to 3PL Freight Partners Group Founder and CEO Tom Burke. In episode 11 of Banyan Technology's Tire Tracks™ podcast, Burke discusses where the future of logistics technology is headed.
Welcome to Tire Tracks, a Banyan Technology podcast driving the logistics industry. And now your host, Patrick Escolas.
Patrick Escolas 00:15
Hey, I'm Patrick Escolas, and I'm here with another Tire Tracks podcast, a Banyan Technology podcast. But today, I am in beautiful Henderson, Nevada, at the Chimera Golf Course with my friend, Tom Burke. Tom, thanks for joining us today.
Tom Burke 00:31
Yeah, thanks for coming out.
Patrick Escolas 00:32
Hey, no -- I have to thank you, because I'm from Cleveland, Ohio, and it was just about snowing when I left last night.
Tom Burke 00:38
Yeah, we did put a special request for the weather in for you. So
Patrick Escolas 00:41
I appreciate that, Tom! So, for anybody that's not me, and has been working with you in the past, who are you and what's your background? I know you're here with Freight Partners Group and we'll get into that in a second.
Tom Burke 00:53
Patrick Escolas 00:53
Who are you?
Tom Burke 00:55
You know, I started out my career going to the University of St. Louis, with the original intentions to become a pilot. And soon after getting into it, I realized how expensive that was actually going to be. So my father said to me...
Patrick Escolas 01:08
I did a similar thing with law school. Did you...
Tom Burke 01:11
You know that feeling, yeah. So my father said to me, you know, why don't you pick transportation, because everything needs to be picked up and delivered by a truck at some point or another.
Patrick Escolas 01:21
That's a smart man.
Tom Burke 01:22
And that was that was wisdom from, you know, 1982. So, you know, quite a few years ago, so...
Patrick Escolas 01:28
Ironic that it's still accurate, right?
Tom Burke 01:30
It still is, yeah. Anything you do touch feel smell. As a matter of fact, it's good. Yeah. No, really, it's it moves by a truck, which is pretty amazing.
Patrick Escolas 01:38
I love it.
Tom Burke 01:39
Pretty amazing. So I changed my career to Transportation Administration, and learned how to, you know, read old time tariffs. And, and look, mileage is up in the household goods book that most people probably don't even recognize.
Patrick Escolas 01:53
And was that an Excel spreadsheet?
Tom Burke 01:55
Yeah, yeah. Good luck with that, yeah. So no, it was amazing. So I've been very fortunate to have had a career in transportation my entire life, and have moved through all the facets of transportation. I have owned a trucking company with 300 trucks and nine locations, a terminal operating company, where we ran intermodal terminals in Minneapolis, Schiller Park and Portal, North Dakota out of all places.
Patrick Escolas 02:24
That was just seen here a little better.
Tom Burke 02:26
Yeah, that's where people got exiled to if they didn't behave. And as well as brokerage companies and container depots, container repair, and really the whole bit
Patrick Escolas 02:40
So, every which way.
Tom Burke 02:41
Yeah, I'm very fortunate.
Patrick Escolas 02:42
So I'll get back to you in a second. So, we're here talking about Freight Partners Group and that's how I know you, right? What, I mean Freight Partners Group, it sounds vague enough that it could do anything, but what's, what are you out here doing?
Tom Burke 02:54
Yeah, so we really, you know, much like Banyan we we call ourselves a technology company first before we call ourselves a freight arranger or transportation arranger. Okay. And the reason we do that is is because, you know, we've come into an era where people are expecting that they're going to get up to date immediate information, and, and they're not willing to wait for it any longer.
Patrick Escolas 03:19
Well, yeah, it's our phones or many computers, and we know more about our Starbucks coffee and where it is, then you know, right, right. So things in business.
Tom Burke 03:27
Yeah. And, you know, transportation orders being placed on not only on phones, but on iPads and, and Android devices and across the, you know, the entire gamut. So, consider ourselves a technology company. So we bit we're building really great technology, to make it really easy for customers to be able to book a shipment and be able to get updated statuses on where it is, and be able to handle it all the way through to the billing. And that's why we chose Banyan. You know, I've known Banyan for at least 20 years, and have used the software in my earlier career days. And you know, the reason we pick Banyan is is because you guys really have the strongest backroom engine that, that, that's out there today.
Patrick Escolas 04:15
And that's awesome, because that's one of the things I say as a salesperson/account manager, but it's it's always awesome to hear it from you without me you know, to poking to tell them how awesome we are. But no, but I hear a lot of that and it's it's really nice for us that we're backend-heavy and those connections are solidified. Now, when it comes to technology and logistics and freight, this is nowhere near your first foray.
Tom Burke 04:25
Yeah, No. No, I, when I sold the trucking company back in 2012, I decided to jump into the software business with both feet and started a product called DrayMaster, which today is still the only rate management system that is built to manage the full container load, import export pickup and delivery off of a rail ramp report across the US.
Patrick Escolas 05:03
I would say that, that's still a point of a lot of, you know, obstacles for a lot of software that exists right now.
Tom Burke 05:08
Correct. It was, it was a little early for its time in 2012. But, you know, I sold it to a company called Envase, which is now WiseTech Global.
Patrick Escolas 05:20
Tom Burke 05:20
And they are, you know, continuing to really market it and pull it together. And it's really taken off. It's now API connected to most of the freight forwarding systems across the US.
Patrick Escolas 05:34
They went and it went EDI to API real fast.
Tom Burke 05:37
It did. Yeah, it did.
Patrick Escolas 05:38
Like, this automation is cool - if only it was dependable.
Tom Burke 05:41
Right! Yeah, it's still amazing how much EDI is still used.
Patrick Escolas 05:46
And also, depending on who you're talking to, you'll say API, and they'll assume you're saying EDI,
Tom Burke 05:51
Patrick Escolas 05:52
Like, yeah, and then you're like, yeah, I have to make sure somebody in the backroom knows what I'm telling them to do.
Tom Burke 05:57
Patrick Escolas 05:57
And you've you've mixed them up three, four times, now. Yeah. I love that as someone that's not as smart as you technically, but has to understand it to get the people involved,
Tom Burke 06:07
Patrick Escolas 06:07
It's always a fun one, like, hey, what acronym? are you actually trying?
Tom Burke 06:10
Right. And when you when they do tell you that they actually meant EDI, you're like, Oh, you're like, yeah...
Patrick Escolas 06:16
We'll get we'll get that stuff, right.
Tom Burke 06:18
Yeah, exactly. Yeah,
Patrick Escolas 06:19
No. So, we're talking about technology, we're talking about freight. Now, there's a lot of technology partner partners out there. And there's a lot of logistics movements going towards that, especially in light of COVID. And those supply chain issues. But what does for a partner group do on top of that, as well? Where do you position yourself as a true value add?
Tom Burke 06:38
Yeah. So, we've, we've really assembled a great group of people that we call our, you know, our internal partners. And we have our internal partners, as well as our external partners, which are our customers, and our technology partners, also like Banyan. But we've got, you know, a great group of executives that are just really great at, at transportation and in particular, LTL truckload, small package parcel, and all of those pieces, as well as...
Patrick Escolas 07:08
Pieces that can get away from you, if you're not keeping an eye on them.
Tom Burke 07:11
That's correct -- and very quickly. So, we've got a great group, a great group of people that has been assembled, that are really going to be putting the the true test to what we've developed here in the in the first quarter of this year. As you know, we've been working with you to get everything tied-up in the backroom, as well as the front end on our side. And we're ready to we're ready to come out of the gate rolling.
Patrick Escolas 07:37
I know you are. I have the camera here, so you don't you know, push me and yeah, why are we there yet?
Tom Burke 07:42
Patrick Escolas 07:42
But no, no, I know.
Tom Burke 07:43
Patrick Escolas 07:44
And within that, so you've mentioned before you guys tried to kind of be a watchdog for some of the people you work with, within freight. What is that? What is that like? Why? Why did you go that way? And how do you do that? Yeah, you know, COVID really taught us a lot of lessons across everything. And in particular, it taught us that when the transportation system is failing that getting ahead of it, and getting ahead with your customers with good communication is always key. And, you know, an ounce of preventative is worth a ton of whatever you have to think that you can lie yourself out of in the back way. It's funny because I've talked to a logistics marketing consultant, Trey Griggs. I've talked to Chris Jolly The Freight Coach, and everybody's saying is that it's not about if something's going wrong, everybody knows that something will there will be a complication.
Tom Burke 08:41
Patrick Escolas 08:41
The overwhelming message ongoing is being proactive on either a letting your customer know, or be saying, here's what I've already got said happening because I knew this was.
Tom Burke 08:51
Patrick Escolas 08:51
So, they're not a day late and a buck short gone, what happened and trying to pick up the pieces.
Tom Burke 08:56
Right. It can be more painful, but there's no surprises on the backend. And that that, that that's really what keeps customers engaged with you. And, you know, I always tell people, you must be truthful, because, you know, back in my trucking days, you know, I had truck drivers give me a reason why they weren't going to make an appointment...
Patrick Escolas 09:15
Tom Burke 09:16
That I would never have repeated to a customer and told you it was and told them something else. And they showed up and gave them that that absolute blatant, you know, truth, but we we're forgiven.
Patrick Escolas 09:28
When you were trying to just make it a little pretty smooth. Like, here it is, yeah. But...
Tom Burke 09:34
Yeah! Yep, you've got to.
Patrick Escolas 09:35
No -- I like that. So, we talk, again, we're talking freight and logistics, but we're standing at this beautiful site here in Nevada -- Henderson, specific. We got mountains, we got the swath of desert behind and no snow anywhere. But, how how'd you get into this?
Tom Burke 09:52
You know, I moved out here 10 years ago from Minneapolis. Probably my Minnesota accent Maybe maybe come out a little bit every year here.
Patrick Escolas 10:02
It's not as bad as Terry's. But yeah.
Tom Burke 10:04
Not, not nearly as bad as Terry's, but he still lives up there.
Patrick Escolas 10:07
He's got a good excuse.
Tom Burke 10:08
He's still suffering in that, in that below zero and snow, and...
Patrick Escolas 10:12
He wouldn't know what to do. He wouldn't know what to do with out anything here to complain about.
Tom Burke 10:16
No, right? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. But so I moved out here and a buddy of mine came up to me and said, hey, you know, there's a golf course that's for sale, you know, just down the street from your house. And I said, golf, I said, you know, I've made the golf 15 times in my career, and in a basketball tournament, I'm not really interested. He said, no, you got to go down and look at it. Well, two weeks later, I'm signing on the dotted line for this golf course. And, you know, we, like I said, you know, COVID taught us a lot of things, and COVID brought out and gave a whole new look and rejuvenation to the golf venue, which is, which is absolutely super. So, we're building a new clubhouse, and we're putting in a new, mini putt to be family friendly. And you know, you got to encourage kids to get into the golf business. Not the golf business, but the golf game, right? Yeah...
Patrick Escolas 11:10
Tom Burke 11:11
Too many competitors. Yeah -- early in the game. So, we've got some great things happening here. And as you know, we're going to be hosting the UPN tournament out here and Banyan is,
Patrick Escolas 11:22
Tom Burke 11:23
Is the main sponsor.
Patrick Escolas 11:24
I won't be able to be there because I will hate having my firstborn. And that is the only legitimate excuse why I'm not coming out here.
Tom Burke 11:30
Patrick Escolas 11:31
Have a really good time.
Tom Burke 11:32
Patrick Escolas 11:33
Tell me a little bit about the UPN -- why you're having it and what kind of stuff you got going on?
Tom Burke 11:36
Yeah, we've got a great partnership with the UPN they were looking for they're...
Patrick Escolas 11:41
Speaking of acronyms. UPN -- what's that?
Tom Burke 11:44
Used Parts Network.
Patrick Escolas 11:45
Tom Burke 11:46
And they were looking for a venue to have their their annual get together.
Patrick Escolas 11:53
Tom Burke 11:53
And we volunteered and put our hands up. And so we're going to have about 300 people coming out. We're going to be doing a bunch of really fun things we're going to, one of the funnest things we're going to be doing is going out to the, the firing...
Patrick Escolas 12:08
This is the baby, having a baby, having a baby...
Tom Burke 12:12
To the gun range and people are going to have the opportunity to to fire off machine guns as well as you know, be able to have the golden ticket to blow up a couple of cars that are out there in the middle and, and Hoover Dam and in a bunch of other things. But, just, just a really good networking opportunity for that entire group who who are busy, busy, busy now because they are in the middle of you know the pandemic. And now, they've had their business rejuvenated also because people aren't buying new or they couldn't get new so they're buying used and having to buy used parts for those for those vehicles.
Patrick Escolas 12:51
I did buy a car a week before my wedding a new a used car. Yeah, I know the feeling. Yeah, I know the pain, right? So I gotta ask, is it a recycling typing event? So they'll blow up the car and then they'll all fight to see who gets the parts and then sell them off?
Tom Burke 13:06
Patrick Escolas 13:06
So part of the raffling?
Tom Burke 13:07
Yeah. You know, I didn't think of that aspect, Patrick! We should have talked earlier. Yeah. But you know, amazingly...
Patrick Escolas 13:13
A whole buffalo kind of a situation.
Tom Burke 13:14
Yeah, amazingly enough. But, some of the software companies that we deal with, actually have a program where they punch-in the car make and model when it comes into their scrap yard, or recycling yard, as they're called today. And it will tell them how to park that entire vehicle out it will print out all the barcodes and it will put every one of those items in inventory for them and make them available. So...
Patrick Escolas 13:39
And how are we supposed to do this before -- look up half of it and have a giant parts book by manufacturer, before?
Tom Burke 13:45
Patrick -- can you go out there and see if you have a bumper for a 2002 Chevy?
Patrick Escolas 13:49
So, you're saying it this this automation technology might be a little bit of a godsend, right?
Tom Burke 13:54
Patrick Escolas 13:55
Yeah, that's awesome.
Tom Burke 13:56
So, so that you know that the other thing that we've done, is we've made integrations with them. So...
Patrick Escolas 14:02
Tom Burke 14:02
They come in to us, and then from us to you, and then from you back to us, and then back to back to them.
Patrick Escolas 14:09
So, it's really kind of one stop shopping for them in the system.
Tom Burke 14:12
Patrick Escolas 14:13
Tom Burke 14:13
Patrick Escolas 14:14
That's, that's the future of everything, right? One screen...
Tom Burke 14:17
Patrick Escolas 14:17
All the options, all the modes. Yeah, that's, I mean, nobody wants to even go to another tab, let alone another piece of software.
Tom Burke 14:23
Patrick Escolas 14:25
So that's exciting. I'm again, gonna be terribly missing not being there, but excited that somebody will be having fun for me and excited about my bundle of joy that's coming, too. Don't get me wrong.
Tom Burke 14:36
Yeah. No, that's a definitely an exciting, right.
Patrick Escolas 14:39
It's blowing up a car just in a completely different way.
Tom Burke 14:41
Right! You may want to blow up a car...
Patrick Escolas 14:47
Days...no! But, so you've got all this going on, and I've been asking everybody just to some consistency once. What do you think, logistics obviously we've changed kind of not everything because some will tell you that not much has changed, that, some of the processes have become more efficient. And it's just the regular demand and supply with, you know, capacity. Where do you see within the next year or two? What do you see the big changes in the logistics industry as a whole?
Tom Burke 15:13
Yeah, I really think that one of the biggest changes is going to be one stop shopping, where people can come in for all the modes to include small package parcel, and, you know, pallet rates and local pickup and delivery. You know, the Uber model or the that, that whole model is...
Patrick Escolas 15:31
How I got here today.
Tom Burke 15:33
Has really taught people that it, they can have information right now.
Patrick Escolas 15:39
Tom Burke 15:39
And that is the new expectation. So, I think that, that, you know, one stop shopping, as well as giving people as much information as you possibly can to let them know exactly where their shipment is, and what kind of timeframe it's going to take to get there. And providing some of that information ahead of time.
Patrick Escolas 15:58
And another this is a question that just kind of comes up on me, and we've talked about it, and with some of the other people I've talked about, is that logistics almost seems to be the, they get the technology last. Why, like, and I don't mean that is that they there's not pieces and parts, but a lot of times it starts with a financial system, or it starts with an ERP at one, and then it eventually filters through to logistics. Why do you think? Is it because there's so many moving parts? Why do you think there that might happen? Do you have any insight? And there's no right or wrong answer.
Tom Burke 16:26
No, there is a right answer, and I've got it because I've been in this business for, you know, 30 years.
Patrick Escolas 16:31
There's a man with confidence.
Tom Burke 16:32
Yeah. We are slow adopters.
Patrick Escolas 16:34
Tom Burke 16:35
If we had more foresight into what technology could do, or could have done for this business a long time ago, we would have been a way ahead of this game that we're in today.
Patrick Escolas 16:47
And do you think that that's a shift that's happened? Is that a lot of people have turned that head to forward thinking instead of getting caught behind? Or, are we destined to repeat the mistakes again?
Tom Burke 16:56
Well, over the last few years, there's been a lot of startup companies that have received 10s of millions of dollars to come in and try and duplicate what companies like Banyan or DrayMaster, or, you know, any of the major software programs that have been out there. And, you know, put a new front end on them and think that they've got it made. Well, they soon found out that without strong bones, that you know, your software is only a..
Patrick Escolas 17:23
A shiny interface!
Tom Burke 17:24
A shiny interface is great. However, without a really good strong backend, it's, it really is proven that companies that like Banyan that have been around forever, are going to stay around and then the net back room is just going to continue to get stronger. It's not a it's not a wheel that you're going to reinvent overnight.
Patrick Escolas 17:45
Hey, I mean, you you heard it from him. I am for me. Yeah, I'm not gonna...
Tom Burke 17:51
Okay, how about that payment?
Patrick Escolas 17:52
Yeah, that's right.
Tom Burke 17:55
Patrick Escolas 17:56
But um, he'll, he'll get a shirt and some sunglasses, but his are a lot, a lot nicer than the cheap ones I brought. No. But I'm, so here kinda, kind of hit all the things I wanted to what I want to offer to you is kind of give everybody this kind of soapbox. What's your, what's your one message to either you know, your, your customers, anyone that might be having problems, or just looking at the logistics industry as a whole? What's what's your, what's your message?
Tom Burke 18:19
Yeah, it's really do your due diligence and understand who the person or the company is that you're going to partner with, and make sure that they number one, have the technology to support you. Number two, that they have the backroom, people wise to support what they're doing. There's still a lot of things that are manual in the, in this, you know, today, with calling and tracing and making sure that the carriers are going to pick up and so forth. And just being on top of that, and making sure that that that team that you choose has all of those things.
Patrick Escolas 18:50
Hey, I love it. And that's, it's funny, because I come out here and I talk about technology, but most of the time, that message that somebody has at the end here really has to do with making sure you do what you need to do. You've got the tools and the resources, but really making sure you have that connection and there's trust there.
Tom Burke 19:07
Right, absolutely. Trust is key and in and then staying with that partner through thick and thin.
Patrick Escolas 19:13
Hey, well, I trust that I'm enjoying this much more than I wouldn't be at my office at all. Tom, thank you very much for...
Tom Burke 19:20
Patrick Escolas 19:21
About Freight Partners Group and being on our episode of Tire Tracks and looking forward to seeing you -- well, somebody at Banyan and probably somebody with a camera will see you -- at UPN.
Tom Burke 19:30
Patrick Escolas 19:30
But, hey, it's a great time. Thanks for letting me out here.
Tom Burke 19:33
Yeah, thank you!
Patrick Escolas 19:35
Hey, great talking to you.
Tom Burke 19:36
Yeah. Thanks Patrick.
Thank you for listening to Tire Tracks. Watch for new episodes dropping monthly and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other podcast apps. For more information about Banyan Technology, visit banyantechnology.com.