NASSTRAC Shipper of the Year: Morton Salt gets “carrier friendly”

This marks the 16th year that we’ve had the winner of the NASSTRAC Shipper of the Year Award grace our October cover, and the staff of LM couldn’t be more thrilled to continue to partner with this leading transportation advocacy organization to make this happen.

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This marks the 16th year that we’ve had the winner of the NASSTRAC Shipper of the Year Award grace our October cover, and the staff of LM couldn’t be more thrilled to continue to partner with this leading transportation advocacy organization to make this happen.

The tradition allows us to work together with the NASSTRAC staff to fix the spotlight on a savvy logistics operation that has recently demonstrated excellence in the execution of a strategy designed to streamline its company’s operations and contribute to the bottom line. This year’s winner, the logistics team at Morton Salt, certainly fits that bill—and then some.

Over the past two years, the team has worked tirelessly to revamp its truckload bid processes and open up its entire transportation network to bring transparency into all of its lanes. The results have created significant service and cost improvements in all three of its major business segments—consumer, industrial, and bulk de-icing—and have helped Morton to escalate its status to “shipper of choice” in eyes of if carrier base.

Problems began surfacing about a decade ago when their splintered approach to dealing with carriers left all of the transportation stakeholders operating in silos. At the time, Morton was utilizing hundreds of carriers, including truckload and van, bulk, flatbed, and some intermodal to and from its 80 shipping locations covering more than 4,700 lanes.

“We couldn’t coordinate our carriers well due to the fact that we had no single methodology for bidding for business,” says Todd Bulmash, logistics analyst. Starting on page 20, Contributing Editor John Schulz documents how Bulmash and the Morton team set out to examine the company’s ground transportation needs across all of its businesses. After much internal discussion, the team realized that it needed to standardize and modernize its operations—truly know its own freight—and then establish the company’s first-ever national truckload bid process on the way to changing how it contracts out its more than 100,000 truckload shipments.

“We had done smaller regional bids in the past, but now we wanted to bring the entire Morton Salt network into the fold,” says Bulmash. “So, we walked the carriers through the bidding process to make sure we got synergies on how the bids were arranged. We wanted a holistic approach.”

The process opened up a refreshing dialogue with carriers that allowed for setting expectations on both sides of the freight equation. Not only did the team receive inquiries from carriers they hadn’t heard from in a long time, but those carriers were surprised by how much “carrier friendly,” highly-palletized freight was available across all three business segments.

In short, Morton trimmed its carrier base from 271 to 150 carriers in its network, and now the team is aiming to get its on-time delivery percentage in the mid-90 percent range. But to top it off, instead of going to the spot market, the team is now able to better hold themselves and their carriers accountable should something fall through the cracks.

“What seems like a simple process was anything but,” says Schulz. “The process took more than six months, but the approach they took helped them to understand their own freight—and that opened the door to smarter carrier relationships.”


About the Author

Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director
Michael Levans is Group Editorial Director of Peerless Media’s Supply Chain Group of publications and websites including Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management Review, Modern Materials Handling, and Material Handling Product News. He’s a 23-year publishing veteran who started out at the Pittsburgh Press as a business reporter and has spent the last 17 years in the business-to-business press. He’s been covering the logistics and supply chain markets for the past seven years. You can reach him at [email protected]

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October 2015 · Viewpoint · All Topics
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