Longfellow once wrote “wherever noble deeds are wrought, wherever is spoken a noble thought, our hearts in glad surprise to higher levels rise.” Those sentiments succinctly apply at an Illinois-based logistics and transport company whose “noble” approach to doing business has not only helped it rise above the competition, but cover a lot of miles on the road of success.
Long before the 2005 launch of Covered Logistics and Transportation, Paul “Tuck” Jasper served as President of Shurfine International, a primary distributor of private-label and major-brand goods sold by grocers throughout the United States. Prior to that, he had held another highly successful career with Kroger, America’s largest retail grocery chain. In more recent years, Jasper has been the force behind a few small start-ups which include a line of energy drinks, and by all accounts, he is simply a man who likes to stay busy. Dismissing any notion about any want to rest on his professional laurels, Jasper says, “You gotta keep moving.” As President of Covered Logistics and Transportation, Jasper (along with his Partners Pat Gillihan and Paul Jasper) has helped a relatively young company move to the forefront of its industry by building on lessons learned from his own professional experiences and steadfastly adhering to three basic tenets that overarch all activities of the company. “There are three principles which guide our work,” says Jasper. “It has to be noble, fun and profitable.”
Having secured multiple customer relationship in markets throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, the venture has generated enough income to enable CLT to make significant investments in developing a state-of-the-art fleet, expand upon their operations in Illinois and open new branches in Dallas, Texas, as well as Ottawa and Ontario in Canada. In terms of fun, Jasper says he derives a particular measure of pleasure by working with a team he describes as “young, energetic and capable.” Among those is one he reserves special pride in working with, his son (Paul Jasper), who previously served at another logistics operation before partnering with his father at CLT. “Besides,” as Jasper asks, “What is a job worth if you don’t really enjoy it?”
That only leaves the last principle component – being noble – which deserves special focus as this not only represents why CLT has been successful, but speaks to how they have been able to distinguish themselves from competitors.
The Nuances of Nobility
The service efficiencies of this operation are compartmentalized in three distinct categories: Covered Logistics, as the brokerage component; Covered Transportation, as the high-tech, asset-based carrier; and Covered TMS, as the transportation management subsidiary.
When asked to explain the “noble” aspect of the business, Jasper responds, “If we’re going to get involved, it has to benefit the customer. That means, we not only have to provide quality service in all we do, but we also have to offer competitive pricing. It also means that we fulfill expectations, and not just to the clients we serve, but to our carriers too.”
Through his former career, Jasper says he keenly understands how it feels to be on the downside of expectations. “I can think way back, and remember what it was like when orders didn’t come to the store on time, or in the right condition. I know what that feels like, and now that I’m on this side, I understand issues can occur, but everyone here knows how important it is to communicate. If there’s an issue with a load, we are accountable and we deal with it. We let the customer know… the customer should never ever be surprised,” emphasizes Jasper.
To avoid surprises, CLT has made significant investments in their equipment and their staff.
Early on, Jasper says the company determined to develop their own fleet, something that gives them an advantage over other 3pl firms. “This helped us attract some customers who wanted us to have that capability, but it also gave us ability to better understand the environment we’re working in… we understand rates, what it takes to put a load together and comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations,” says Jasper, adding that the knowledge gained has added efficiencies to the logistics side of the operation.
Covered Transportation is developing a fleet of 100 vehicles, complemented by new Peterbilt tractors from JX and Penske, and Utility thin wall reefer trailers that can be configured as dry, refrigerated or frozen. These are being equipped with the newest technical innovations of GPS in-cab and in-trailer systems featuring “ibright” from International Telematics. The technology not only allows dispatchers to know precisely where the equipment is located, but it also enables them to adjust trailer temperatures from their desk. The system further provides communication to the driver through an in-cab monitor, and goes the extra mile by measuring fuel usage, driver cornering, braking, acceleration speeds, all while providing route mapping and a geo-fencing capability that actually customers when the load is one-hour away from delivery.
Other technical innovations have been secured through the company’s relationship with Idle Free Systems, an innovative provider of comprehensive idle elimination solutions uniquely catered for trucks and buses. Industry data finds that discretionary idling of a typical fleet sleeper truck can consume as much as 3,000 gallons of diesel per year. The Idle Free system not only offers up to $10,000 in annual savings, but also eliminates the additional stresses leading to engine wear and tear associated with idling. And while reducing engine maintenance costs, the Idle Free solution also helps reduce CO2 emissions. Through its partnership with Idle Free Systems, Covered Logistics & Transportation is not only operating economically practical, but also environmentally prudent.
Yet, the focus on material fortitude may only be surpassed by the attention CLT devotes to its business associates. Jasper says, in the company’s beginning, more than 200 interviews were conducted to identify five appropriate drivers. When one has top-of-the-line equipment, there is need for top-of-the-line operators. In recent years, that equipment has helped the company attract drivers, but CLT’s ability to retain the best all relates back to Jasper’s values of integrity, accountability and transparency. “Communicating, and being accountable to our carriers is just as important as communicating and accountability with our customers. We understand that you have to be honest with drivers… if you tell’em you’re going to give them 3,000 miles a week, then do it,” he admonishes. The company recognizes that carriers are a critical component of their success, and they constantly strive to provide information and solutions that allow for the carrier’s success. “These are special people and when you’re doing long distance hauling, it’s a different world out there. You have to respect what these drivers do because it takes a special person to do it,” says Jasper.
Minding the Mission
In terms of the future, Jasper affirms that the company will continue to build on the success it has achieved by staying true to their mission to deliver benefits of quality service and cost savings to their clients.
That includes maintaining a support role to agri-business where CLT is a carrier of choice that uniquely helps facilitate the transport of perishables directly from the field to the dinner table. Jasper also expresses optimism that the company will experience further growth in services to port operations. While CLT has already penetrated this market, Jasper says he envisions the company will secure new clients in Florida, Seattle, Houston and Boston. He envisions further expansions in Canada, which will include the opening of offices in Ottawa.
He says the cohesion of brokerage, logistics and transport management services ultimately allow Covered Logistics and Transportation to move all types of freight at such a high degree of efficiency and cost effectiveness that customers have come to appreciate the unique capability, if not savings.
While his industry endures with daily encounters of demanding conditions wrought from all form of weather, load and geographic variance, coupled by the increased incorporation of highly sophisticated technologies to respond to such demands, Jasper astutely offers a fundamental, perhaps foolproof, formula for how to best grow a business, “Our plan is to keep it simple, practical and flexible.”