Viewpoint: Transportation answers in unlikely places

This month’s cover story on the evolving relationship between Tuesday Morning, an upscale retailer with 865 stores, and its motor carrier partner is an inspirational sign of the times—and contains a theme that we may be hearing repeatedly from other shippers if the economy kicks into high gear.

By ·

This month’s cover story on the evolving relationship between Tuesday Morning, an upscale retailer with 865 stores, and its motor carrier partner is an inspirational sign of the times—and contains a theme that we may be hearing repeatedly from other shippers if the economy kicks into high gear.

Back in 2006, the logistics team at Tuesday Morning was just beginning to feel a capacity pinch in its long-haul moves between Port of Long Beach and the retailer’s massive 1.7-million-square-foot distribution center (DC) in Farmers Branch, Texas. So, on the suggestion of its motor carrier, Averitt Express, the shipper decided to experiment by substituting over-the-road carriage with rail intermodal on occasion to get a feel for how the service would perform.

And as the retailer’s logistics team tells our John Schulz, it felt pretty good. The service ran about 58 hours on average, and due to Averitt’s evolving relationship with the Union Pacific on the lane, both the shipper and carrier began to realize that service reliability was right on par with truck the more they made the run.

“After a while it was pretty simple,” Tuesday Morning’s General Manager of Transportation Jerry Kemper tells Schulz. “The rates were better and the capacity was better.” But how could the team work rail intermodal into their lean, time-sensitive transportation plan that hinged on the flexibility of trucking?

The retailer is pretty unique in that it services all 865 stores out of the one DC in Farmers Branch, a reality that does, in fact, put delivery timing, storage, and inventory turns at a premium. But after sitting across a table with its motor carrier, the shipper began to see that with better advanced planning, their rail deliveries could be spaced to help relieve any storage concerns without sacrificing service levels.

And, of course, if the rail is caught up or an overseas supplier can’t make a deadline, the carrier is able to jump in with expedited over-the-road service to make up any lost time. As Schulz’ case study reveals on page 24, Kemper and the team felt comfortable with the multimodal plan and decided to roll it out in full force in March 2010—an implementation that came with a few surprises and some pretty impressive benefits.

Tuesday Morning is calling this move “transformational,” and judging from the cost savings the logistics team has realized, that lofty designation is most certainly deserved. The decision process was driven by foresight, some experimentation, and in what might come as a surprise to many, from the advice of an open-minded trucking partner.

Considering the regulatory, capacity, and general operational challenges our trucking partners continue to face, it wouldn’t be going out on a limb to say that savvy shippers may find the answers to some of their biggest questions in unlikely places this year.


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]

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Digital Issue: The Current State of Third-Party Logistics Services
It has become quite clear that logistics professionals are now facing an unprecedented set of challenges. From tightening capacity, to ongoing regulation hurdles, to the complexity brought on by e-commerce, today’s shippers are transforming the way they manage their logistics operations.
Download Today!
From the June 2017 Issue
Here are five trends that every shipper­—and potential shipper—must watch as the demand for experienced logistics and supply chain professionals soars.
2017 Rail/Intermodal Roundtable: Volume stable, business steady
Cross-Border Logistics: NAFTA tune-up time
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Women in Logistics: Breaking Gender Roles to Win the War for Talent
In this session you'll hear from a panel of women who are now leading top-level logistics and supply chain operations. The panel will share their success stories as well as advice for women who are now making their way up the ladder.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
2017 Top 50 3PLs: Investment and Consolidation Maintain Traction
The trend set over the past few years for mergers and acquisitions has hardly subsided, and a fresh...
The Evolution of the Digital Supply Chain
Everyone is talking about terms like digitization, Industry 4.0 and digital supply chain management,...

2017 Salary Survey: Fresh Voices Express Optimism
Our “33rd Annual Salary Survey” reflects more diversity entering the logistics management...
LM Exclusive: Major Modes Join E-commerce Mix
While last mile carriers receive much of the attention, the traditional modal heavyweights are in...