IT STARTS WITH COFFEE
We are an asset-based third-party logistics company (3PL), offering value-added supply chain solutions. I’m serious – I Googled it! But if you came to visit, you would never take us for a company with three hyphens in its descriptor. We started out in 1989 as a simple asset-based trucking company (a one hyphen entity). We are remarkably responsive to customer requests, so our services have expanded through the years. Our first expansion was a brokerage division, allowing our customers to make one phone call to cover all their freight needs, even when their needs exceeded our capacity. Eventually, one of our customers asked if we would consider welding their product. That led to our contract manufacturing division. Then, we went on to powder coating. Hey, if we’re welding it, why not coat it, right? More recently, we’ve ventured into assembly and storage – all by customer request.
To those customers who bundle services with us, Pro is practically irreplaceable. We are like an extension of their own company; like if there was a side door leading from their building, you would expect to walk right into ours. Our team members are on a first name basis with their team members, we ask about each other’s kids, we joke around; we care about each other, both as companies and as people.
Anyway, now that I have moved from operations to marketing and sales, I have occasion to visit companies who are contemplating using one of our services. On one such occasion, I walked into a growing company who was grabbing market share in their niche industry by offering an engineered solution far superior to their competition. During the shop tour, I saw all the signs of a growing company: Product storage leaking onto the shop floor, cluttered work stations being used for both welding and assembly, a fume laden paint booth standing smack in the middle of the shop, stinking up the place and devastating work-flow. Within minutes, I was proposing an entire bundle of services – manufacturing, coatings, trucking. I honestly wondered how they had survived so long without us! I had all their answers - without even hearing their questions.
Long story short, that awesome company is still surviving without us. I don’t think upper management even gave serious consideration to the bundle of services I proposed. It was just too big of a leap to trust so much of their supply chain to a company they didn’t even know. When I got back to the office, I equated my sales tactic to a guy proposing marriage on the first date! There’s something creepy about that kind of proposal. Someone at the water cooler said, “Yeah, even when you meet the perfect match, you still have to start with coffee.” How true! When you’re sitting in the coffee shop across from someone who could be “the one”, the first thing you need to show them is how well you listen. It all starts there. In our business, trust is built first by listening, and then responding with helpful solutions (one at a time). A bundle of services stems from a bundle of trust. So bundles are not sold, they’re earned. Stay tuned for more on how that simple fact has changed the way we look at things around here.