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Readers’ Choice Top 10 3PL Excellence Awards 20

3PLs have the tools, people, knowledge, and experience to help supply chains run more efficiently. Which 3PLs did our readers vote the best of the best?

It might be tempting to think of the racking system in your warehouse or DC as a larger version of the metal shelving in your garage. After all, how complicated could a steel rack be—especially the

Managing a global supply chain takes a lot of specialized and complicated know-how. Shippers who don't have the right people on staff to manage logistics operations, or whose businesses grow too big or diverse, may need to hand off those functions to someone else.

Third-party logistics (3PL) companies have the tools, the talent, the knowledge, and the experience to help supply chains operate more efficiently, and savvy logistics managers know when to ask for help.

When bringing a 3PL partner on board, managers need to look for certain qualities.

First, your 3PL should provide some bang for your buck. "C.H. Robinson provided me with the most value for my dollar as it pertains to knowledge of logistics, business trends, and sense of urgency in terms of listening to customers. They are always available 24/7/365, and have proven their commitment," says T.S., a global sourcing specialist.

A good provider helps to offset its own cost by saving shippers money in their own operations. "Menlo has been effective at driving down our transportation costs, finding new providers, and identifying and eliminating unnecessary costs," says I.D., a lead logistics analyst.

Second, strong 3PL partners handle problems before you even know there are problems. "Flexibility in SEKO Logistics' processes makes things easier on us, and they have the knowledge to resolve problems before they affect our service level," says logistics manager G.K.

Third, 3PL partners should have the right attitude, and a willingness to put your needs above all else. "Kenco keeps an extraordinary focus on customer service and regulatory compliance. They go above and beyond to make sure that our customers get their shipments on time and correctly. And they use validated systems that ensure regulatory compliance, with no exceptions," says J.B., a company president.

Finally, 3PLs should display the three R's set forth by R.R., a vice president of business development: "J.B. Hunt consistently meets my three R's: Response, Rates, and Reliability."

By taking on transportation and logistics functions, 3PLs give shippers the freedom to reallocate resources and focus on what they are best at: providing services and making products. Each year, Inbound Logistics' Readers' Choice Top 10 3PL Excellence survey gives those shippers a chance to sing the praises of the partners that do so much for them.

In 2015, 6,250 voters filled out the awards survey to show their appreciation for their logistics partners. Working in myriad positions across the entire spectrum of the supply chain—from purchasing, to warehouse management, to transportation management—voters represent many household names and brands, including, Coca-Cola, Walgreens, American Apparel, YMCA, Nestlé, 3M, Whirlpool, Monsanto, Ace Hardware, and McDonald's. Each of those companies spends millions on transportation and logistics annually. (See About the Survey Respondents and Vote of Thanks on the following pages for more background on this year's voters.)

With such a large sampling of job titles making up the voter pool, our reade rs provide us with valuable data that lets us take the pulse of the supply chain. For example, survey respondents love partnerships that are easy: "Landstar? I call them plug-and-play," says J.L., an asset manager.

For many shippers, reliability is paramount. "With Echo, my shipments always arrive on time, and I've never had to file a claim for damaged or missing items," reports logistics manager M.H.

Most importantly, shippers care about service quality, with 70 percent of survey respondents saying quality is more important than price (though that number notably declined from 80 percent in 2014). Additionally, 43 percent say poor customer service is the reason shipper/3PL relationships fail. With such a high focus on quality service, many shippers say the key is to find a partner that can best meet your needs, and stick with them. "SEKO Logistics is the only company we now use, after having tried many," one shipper says. "They always get the job done for us."


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Robert J. Cudnik
Logistics Engineering, LLC
517 Patterdale Lane
Blythewood, South Carolina 29016

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