Shipping Alcohol: The Rise of Craft Breweries

Craft brewing has quickly grown from a cottage industry to a multimillion-dollar commerce segment that seems poised to bring down, or at least challenge, the giants in a well-established market. Brewers spring up all the time, and the Brewers Association notes that most Americans find themselves living within 10 miles of a craft brewer. That’s fairly amazing when you consider that just six years ago, in 2012, two companies produced 90 percent of America’s beer.

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freightpros management

Setting the Standard for a Quality Freight Experience

logistics blogA few weeks ago, the FreightPros management team went through a great company offsite.

The major topic of the day was to revisit our company Vision and Mission statements, and I'm proud to announce what came out of that day.

As FreightPros has evolved over time, the purpose of the company has changed rather drastically.

In the earliest days, we were just trying to keep the lights on and enough cash in the bank to meet our obligations.

We've come a long way.

As the years have gone by, we've built an energetic and amazing team. We've focused on service first, building partnerships with our customers, and really revolutionizing the way that freight shipping customers interact with a logistics provider.

We realized the time had come to update the long term goal of the company, and the methodology for how we will eventually get to that goal.

FreightPros vision is to set the standard for a quality freight experience.

Sounds simple enough doesn't it? The surprising thing is that we operate in an industry without a clearly defined service quality leader. Look at other industries and you have American Express, Zappos, USAA, Costco, or even Amazon.

For years we've battled the notion that third party logistics and freight brokerage companies are really offering a commoditized service. This false notion, and the lack of a service leader, screams OPPORTUNITY for our team.

We are set not only on establishing and defining what a quality freight experience truly will be, but delivering on that elevated standard.

How do we get there?

We feel like we've already made huge strides towards this vision. We've assembled an amazing team that adheres to a really strong set of core values, built really smart quoting tools, and have poured countless hours and millions of dollars into developing our back-end customer management system.

That said, we still have work to do. A focus on our customer partnerships, enhanced technology tools, and continuing to build and develop our team of FreightPros will propel us toward the vision.

FreightPros mission is to build strong customer partnerships by delivering exceptional support and innovative solutions carried out by a reliable, efficient, inspired team of freight experts.

Our hope is that a daily commitment to our mission will lead us toward our vision, and along the way we will continue to create an amazing business that is a vehicle to enrich the lives of our customers and employees.

millennials definition

Millennials: A Definition

What is a millennial? It seems like a hot-button issue – one that has tendrils all over that big ol’ collection of entertainment, knowledge, opinion, and crap, known as The Internet. It’s a Google hit-term. That’s for sure. What else? Millennials outnumber baby boomers in this country, and NPR has named them “The New Boom”. But do you want the truth of what a real “millennial” is? “Millennials” is a marketing term. That’s correct. “Millennials” is a marketing term. Nothing more. Nothing less. There’s something inherently ridiculous about identifying an entire generation of people, but society has been doing stuff like this forever. Labeling a group of people based entirely on their age is rarely going to get you much more than Buzzfeed articles and overarching generalizations that aren’t really applicable once you hold them up to a level of higher scrutiny. It’s true. There are over 8 billion people on this planet. Nobody is the same. We have different DNA, different personalities, and different fingerprints. But what this sort of labeling CAN do is identify certain cultural indicators and how these indicators affect those young souls as they tip-toe into adulthood. “The Greatest Generation” grew up during the Great Depression and fought in WWII – both extraordinary in scope. But are they really the greatest just because Tom Brokaw coined them as such in 1988 (when he was nearly 50 years old)? What defines “greatest”? Did they light the fire of the industrial revolution? No. Did they fight for independence from the most powerful country in the world – Great Britain, and win? No. Did they amend government to include rights for women? African-Americans? Homosexuals? No. The reason I use “The Greatest Generation” as my example is that there are a few things those people DID accomplish that lend themselves to that fickle term of, “greatest.” They did kickstart the imperialist machine of the United States; she of world police, wars on terrorism or drugs, Bosnia, The Cold War, and The Middle East. The militarization of this country following Pearl Harbor was unlike anything the world had ever seen. Same goes for the mobilization of the female working force, the male soldiership, and the national pride hoisted on Rosy the Riveter and countless others. If greatness is defined as being unique and exceptional – then those actions most certainly fall under that umbrella of exceptionalism.  But “The Greatest Generation” didn’t exist until the end of The Cold War – well within the grips of Generation X. Sure, it sounds great – The GREATEST Generation – but it’s not accurate. It was never really a marketing term, but rather a sort of postdated, cultural bookmark for a certain idealism – to a time before Vietnam, The Bay of Pigs, The Kennedy Assassinations, MLK, and Altamont. Then the war ended and we found ourselves with “The Baby Boomers”; who were probably known best for their mass, their size, their economic power and spending ability, and their exodus to the suburbs. Some of them became hippies, but most of them remained hawks. Let us not forget, Eisenhower and Nixon sandwiched JFK’s presidency. Next, we have Generation X; the children of the hippies and the hawks who rebelled against the hardness of the 70s and the insincerity of the 80s. And with Generation X, we have our first ancestor of the millennials. Generation X was the first generation that found itself labeled and organized, at the time, by those outside of said generation. This sort of organization was used in an assortment of ways; including marketing, a capitalization on global consumerism, and eventually the supposed denial and rejection of those same elements of Reaganomics and free market economics (the idea of a disenfranchised youth of the 70s and 80s was as much a myth as anything else we’re talking about). And now we have millennials; those boys and girls born between the early 80s and the new millennium. Are there things we have in common? Sure. We have a sense of technology and its ability to morph and change. We have The Internet, cell phones, personal computers, and other devices that have opened all sorts of new lanes on the information highway. This technology has influenced the way we go to school, and the way we learn. It has opened the world up, and promoted a level of global visibility unseen in the history of mankind. But does it mean we don’t like to communicate because of Facebook? Of course not. Facebook was founded in 2004 – I was already in college. Have we lost the ability or desire to socialize, or do business “the old-fashioned way” with a handshake, because of our iPhones? No, we haven’t. Cell phones were not a normal thing for most of us until high school, or even college – far past the point in life where one develops social skills. Does all this technology mean that we are lazy and don’t work? Or has the economic boom of the Bush/Clinton/Bush administrations made us fat and worthless (along with Taco Bell)? NO! These things are true for a number of young people now, just as they were true for a number of young people (lazy & worthless) in 1950, 60, and 70, and just like they are true for a number of old people. Young people are sometimes lazy, just as old people. Are old people smarter than young people? No. Wiser? Absolutely. Do young people have a hard time accepting this? Yes. Have young people and old people ever gotten along? NO! Of course not! Elvis. Rock and roll. Jazz. The Beats. LSD. The Rolling Stones. Gender equality. These are your signifiers of a culture reaching adulthood, of young bumping shoulders with old, and with the old grasping tight in resentment of their fading cultural ego. So what is a millennial? It’s a person that, right now, is between 35 and 15 years old. Do you know many 15 year olds that have a lot in common with a 35 year old? Me neither. Do you know many 15 year olds that have a lot in common with ANYONE that’s not a 15 year old? Me neither. The term “millennial” is a romantic term, just as “baby boomer” or “the lost generation” or “the greatest generation” or “the lucky few” that fought in Korea and Vietnam. It means something only to those fit to make money off of it. And with the millennial generation taking hold of the workforce, of the economy, of the country – the ability to sell goods and services to this conglomerate of people is important. We want to sell goods to one another. We want to make money, just like everyone else. But this term “Millennial” is false. It doesn’t say anything about any of us. It says only that most of us came of age somewhere around the new millennium, when technology bursted out of Silicon Valley (sorta) and into the living rooms and classrooms of our generation(s). It is a Google search term, which is fitting. Do we love Facebook? Sure. But who doesn’t? If the technology would have existed for Facebook back for the baby boomers, the lost generation, or generation X, they would have done the same thing as the rest of us. My grandmother has Facebook. She was born nearly 50 years before me. We are of different generations, with different ideals, customs, and tastes; all determined by the culture from where we came. While this might mean that Facebook has a lot of power, it doesn’t mean her generation is any “greater” than mine, or vice versa. And just like everyone before us, Millennials are not long for this world. Generation Z is already coming up. The earliest of them are teenagers who speak in a lingo I don’t understand, spend their days on phones with programs that I’ve never heard of (certainly not Facebook), and without doubt, I will think they are lazy and “technology-obsessed” as I become more cynical through experience. But MILLENNIAL is a term just like HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT FAST, or THE TOP TEN DANCING CATS! It’s click-bait. It’s trivial. There’s no great truth behind it. And that’s okay.

FreightPros takes a trip to the SEFL Terminal

About six months ago I got a call asking to accept a position at FreightPros. I was ecstatic to not only get my first “big girl” job out of college, but also to learn about this industry – one that’s been around for a while and will continue to develop and thrive for years. My first day I was trying to soak it all in; looking over all the different terminology and processes, thinking to myself, “How could every item from toilet paper to engines to candy bars have a number or class to label it?” Nevertheless, I was starting to grasp the concept of LTL shipping and now, six months in, can speak confidently about all that I have learned. But one inquiry kept me curious: What do the carrier terminals actually look like? Is it simply freight mayhem? How do they know how to load the truck going to different locations? Is it anything like Tetris? I wanted to see for myself. I called one of our carrier terminals by our office, spoke with the terminal manager, and I asked if I could take a group of co-workers to check out their terminal. He said he would be happy to give us a tour. A few of us arrived, one rainy morning, to the Southeastern terminal right outside of Austin. We were welcomed warmly with refreshments and smiles. After an overview of the company, we got to witness the excitement of the dock. They were almost finished with loading the freight as the trucks need to go out by 9:00 AM for deliveries. We got to step inside one of the trailers loaded with freight, and looked over how they organize the shipments (it’s nothing like Tetris…). They showed us the routes for different trucks, and how they plan the day for the drivers’ deliveries and pickups. We even got to see the dispatcher schedule a pick up over the phone. The field trip to Southeastern’s terminal was informative, especially for us that work in the freight industry. However, there are a couple tips that can be good for anyone shipping freight; straight from the mouth of the carriers themselves. One issue they come across frequently is when the shipper is lacking the paperwork needed at pickup. If you are on the shipping end, please make sure the bill of lading is present. Another helpful tip? Label your freight. They have your freight in their system once the BOL is given, but to avoid any kind of future issues, physically labeling your shipment with the destination address is always helpful. LTL shipping can be complicated, but it’s nice to put your trust with a company that knows the in’s and out’s of the industry. Speaking to someone like myself who’s newer to the industry, or a team member that’s been here for years, you should feel confident that we will have the answers to your questions. It’s these types of field trips to terminals that make the team members here true “FreightPros,” and we’re proud of such a hands-on approach. cc image courtesy aiyannastone via Flickr

Five Core Values Five Years in the Making

Today was a very important day for FreightPros – in the entrance of our office, we visually rolled out our core values on a very slick canvas, printed by our friends over at Buildasign!  Our five values are: Support: Build Trust by Having the Backs of our Team and Customers Produce: Ideas Carried Out by a Culture of Doers Respect:  Promote a Friendly and Compassionate Attitude Balance: Work Hard, Have Fun, Give Back Develop: Foster Personal Growth and Continued Learning Values CanvasValues and Team Some companies establish their core values at the inception of their business and that is oftentimes the smartest thing to do in terms of laying the foundation for what principles guide everyday actions and decisions.  Though we acknowledge the risk of not having written values right from the get go, there is a larger sentiment of solidity knowing that these values are the byproduct of five years of experiences, mistakes, successes and perspective that have been non substitutable in framing the vision for what we aim to build and what we’re all about.  Beyond that, this time has allowed us to form our close team and gather their feedback and buy in about the type of environment they want to come to work at each day (more on that later in the post). To those non freight folks whose only shipping experience would be dropping off a package at the UPS store (that was me 5 years ago!), the freight world is a complex ecosystem filled with varying personalities and differed interests.  It is important to briefly frame the dynamics of the day to day to properly understand how we arrived at our five values… Every shipment is of the utmost importance and you are reliant on third party forces (i.e. dispatchers, truck drivers, shippers, warehouses, etc.) to play their part in what needs to happen to facilitate a smooth transaction.  Oftentimes, the situation has some unique component to it that requires over the top communication, honest expectation framing with customers/carriers and keen problem solving ability to minimize costs and maximize results.  All these elements make every day different, engaging and never dull.  Occasionally though, even if the execution of all of this is carried out flawlessly, unforeseen mistakes and/or events cause undesired outcomes leading to uncomfortable conversations with various stakeholders of the shipment.  Naturally, all these factors promote a certain level of positive and negative stress that can be responded to in various ways.  Phew!! We believe this freight landscape has produced an exciting challenge.  How do we take a freight industry that can often be unnecessarily antiquated, nasty and complex and build a value system that uses these inefficiencies as opportunities and motivators to enable us to build something really cool and totally against the status quo? In answering this question, you start with the fact that your team, processes and technology shapes your culture which then produces a certain product.  It is the varying ways you think about that statement and how you prioritize the ingredients of that equation where we feel confident in our path. Though we are process and technology geeks, the overriding element of our success will be our ability to have one another’s backs and this is at the core of all five values.  It takes a firm understanding of the power of a team; that it is everyone’s responsibility to seek out opportunities to prop up and look out for one another.  Whether it is prioritizing team visibility into everyone’s workload in the attempt to offer assistance or encouraging team members to learn outside their role, we believe our success depends on our interrelatedness with one another.  Now, this is not to say we don’t strive for autonomy, it merely implies that the more we are supporting and learning from others, the happier we will be and the more we will grow. In turn, this focus then leads to a more informed, more pleasant team member who delivers a superior product to a customer not accustomed to that level of intelligence and communication. #SUPPORT Due to emphasis on team dialogue, openness and comfort with each other, our aim is to promote a culture of idea penetration.  We love ideas!  However, ideas are worthless if they are not substantive backed, speedily implemented and properly tested in an environment that accepts and expects a certain amount of failed ones.  We feel that our embrace of ground up company optimization furthers our production because the more vested we are in understanding everything we do on a day to day basis, the more data we are armed with to come up with meaningful evidence to bring about change that forwards the company.  #PRODUCE Along these lines, the best ideas come from team members who find pleasure in getting into the shoes of the person on the opposite side of the conversation.  This interaction could be with conflicting internal team members, unaccommodating partner carriers or unreasonable customers.  The better we are at getting excited about understanding the opposite end of the spectrum, the faster we will be able to further relationships, optimize processes and grow individually.  With that said, we do have the power to choose who we interact with and will make sure to not prolong a relationship we know only brings negative energy.  #RESPECT The freight days can be nonstop and more often than not, you leave work with a whirlwind type feeling, not sure what just happened.  These days can be great because time goes by fast and you are exposed to tons of unique complexities that build an invaluable foundation to handle any type of situation (not just freight related).  At the same time, without the ability to step away from these days and think about how they further one’s overall personal growth, we believe they are unsustainable.  It is important to us that everyone in the company uses their day to day as examples to reference as they aim to master whatever role they are passionate about.  The role could be sales, account management, marketing, whatever; it is our intention to get everyone excited about internal prioritization that promotes new skills and encourages the pursuit of abundant outsides resources that further confidence and ability in what they do every day.  We firmly believe that once personal growth stops, we lose a contributor to our culture.  #DEVELOP So this whole post has been about work, which makes sense given the context, but work is a very distant second as compared to the aggregate of family, acknowledging our fortunes and making sure we fulfill personal bucket list items that grow us culturally/spiritually.  We work very hard so we feel good about taking that coveted trip, being with family when it is important or taking a personal day.  This concept only works if we constantly strive to build rock solid teams so when we are out, service levels don’t skip a beat.  On this front though, we do believe in earning your keep and working towards the right to have this type of flexibility regardless what position you are hired for.  Given our young age as a company, we have naturally had our heads down and continue to have our heads down as we continue to grow and build something that can support this priority.  The thought of creating an environment that views personal and social prioritization as core components to a superior customer offering is super motivating.  #BALANCE While two paragraphs went a little out of order, our values can be remembered as being SUPERBAD (yes, we are counting “SUPRE” as the same as “SUPER”).  It was not our intention to come up with an acronym, or this one in fact.  Despite that, we will definitely own it because we are confident we will create something badass or even slightly weird compared to the conventional logistics company, but hey, maybe it is just the Austin in us!   Viewing Values Canvas    

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