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Transportation and logistics leaders talk the trade

By Lee Reinsch

GREEN BAY – New York, Houston and even Chattanooga, Tennessee, may be leading the nation in transportation and logistics, but there’s no reason Green Bay can’t also be a national leader.

That’s one message hauled home at a Greater Green Bay Chamber event focusing on the topic Nov. 20.

“You’ve got the talent, the desire, you’ve got excellent colleges; you’ve got all the pieces,” said Craig Fuller, owner and founder of FreightWaves in Chattanooga, and keynote speaker at the transportation and logistics forum held at the Auto Gallery. “You’re just not on the radar. You’re not being pulled into the discussion.”

The 2019 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing privately held companies features 13 companies from the Chattanooga area, eight of which are in the business of logistics industry.

“We’re only about 1 1/2 years ahead of you,” Fuller said.

His company, FreightWaves, provides data and analytics to the worldwide logistics industry.

Before launching FreightWaves, Fuller founded TransCard, a fleet payment processor later sold to U.S. Bank.

The event at the Auto Gallery included Craig Dickman, managing director of TitletownTech and founder of Breakthrough Fuel; Mark Rourke, CEO of Schneider; Paul Snider, president of KBX Logistics; and John Larkin, operating partner with Clarendon Capital. Dickman moderated a chat with Rourke and Snider.

Growing segment

The transportation and logistics industry has become a niche for Northeast Wisconsin.

It’s the No. 1 industry for job growth in the greater Green Bay area, which consists of about 12 counties.

The area’s 642 transportation and logistics companies employ 11,000 people, representing 1 percent of jobs in the industry nationwide, according to the Chamber.

But sometimes attracting talent from across the country to the frozen terrain of Green Bay can take some doing. So it comes in handy that the area is a hub for these kinds of jobs.

“People know that when they’re uprooting their families to come here, if things don’t work out at one place, they can easily get a job at another competitor,” Fuller said.

Emphasize a job’s importance

Perhaps transportation and logistics companies should toot their own horns. Or play a different tune.

“You’ve got to get your story out there,” said Rourke.

He said people want the work they do to matter.

“If they’re doing something that matters, geography factors can be overcome,” Rourke said.

He praised the culture of the community.

“It’s hard to get people to come here (for interviews) but once we do, it’s an easy sell,” he said.

Rourke said Schneider has well-established relationships with schools in the area, both public and private.

Rourke is Schneider’s fourth CEO in its 85-year history.

The company began hauling for the paper industry, but now transports practically everything.

It employs more than 19,000 people.

Snider said creating meaning is key, and with that, locales like Silicon Valley don’t matter.

“If you’re providing meaningful work, people really want to come there,” Snider said. “If it’s a mundane job, it doesn’t matter where it is; they don’t want it.”

He said KBX also has partnerships with schools.

“We’ll do guest lectures and let people know what kinds of jobs we have,” Snider said.

Technology plays a key role in most of the jobs at KBX.

“There aren’t that many manual tasks out there,” he said.

Dickman summed it up in a few words.

So many things in the industry have changed, but one thing remains the same:

“No matter how things get sold – whether by e-commerce or direct-to-consumer – things still need to be moved,” he said.

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