“Sometimes we look at each other and say, ‘Don’t overthink it, we just have to get it done’ – and then rely on our ability to adjust and adapt to whatever comes at us.”
Those words spoken by Caleb Donehoo of F2F Logistics captures the essence of the business model of this Tomball, Texas based logistics business, located in southeast Texas, near Houston, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Partners Carl Kiser and Caleb Donehoo joined up with Matt Jones and Daniel Peterson to launch a logistics business, leveraging their backgrounds in the US Marine Corps and project management with one of the top 5 Fortune 500 companies – creating a business that delivers tailored logistics solutions for local, domestic, and international shippers in the Energy, Industrial, Manufacturing, Agriculture, Aerospace and Automotive industries.
“We understand, and appreciate, what it means to perform in demanding situations, the importance of communication, and of trusted relationships. We felt that all of these elements in combination would play a role in our logistics business,” said Kiser.
Driven by a sense of mission, the will and resourcefulness necessary to accomplish a goal, the partners have an innate understanding of the requirement to act and initiate, stemming from their training on the ‘70% solution’ operating principle of the US Marine Corps.
The 70% solution speaks to the need of soldiers in the field to take action, since waiting for the remaining 30% of information and resources, could mean the difference between life and death. The principle lends itself well to the business world, and especially to the logistics industry, where things are constantly in motion, and the competition can be fierce.
“No movement is worse than making a move and encountering obstacles,” said Donehoo. “We know that access to information combined with good communication can overcome the barriers that inevitably arise in logistics.”
F2F is an acronym for ‘First to Fight’, another principle of the Marine Corps. And while F2F embraces this the courage and ‘can do’ spirit of the Marine Corps, it is particular about where it chooses to apply their time and resources, carefully screening and choosing customers that it feels it can best help, and in the very same way, with carriers to determine which are up to the task.
“We are very customer focused, and we like to build long-term sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships – not only with our shipper/customers, but with our carriers as well. And we try to align the two as much as possible so that they [the shipper and carrier] build a trusting relationship as well, one where they can rely on pick-up and delivery times, where people know each other and the way they will handle a particular type of shipment,” said Kiser.
When F2F looked at launching a business they understood that importance of teamwork – of marshalling both people and resources towards a goal. So they started looking for a TMS system that was flexible and accessible, offering them the features they needed, and something that didn’t break the bank because they were just starting out.
“Since we had worked with information systems in logistics before, we knew the importance of controlling and managing the information that was coming in, and going out,” said Donehoo. “We were wary of trying to do it with spreadsheets and the challenges of version control.”
“We had worked with a previous logistics software system before, but we found it wasn’t flexible to our needs. We selected Tailwind because it was web-based which helped us because we are a small business and we need access to information, and we needed to be able to communicate with customers, carriers and with one another.” said Kiser.
“We liked the way Tailwind flowed, how it allowed us to interact with our carriers, and the one entry system, where all of our data and information was centralized and connected to the things we needed to do in our Operations and in our Administration.”
“We have been happy with the pace and speed of improvements that have been made to the system in the past seven months that we have used it – especially the Customer Portal. Your team – EG and Mark – have been easy to work with and very responsive.”
F2F shared that they would have liked to have executed a bit smoother transition of data from the old to the new system, but other than that, they have encountered a smooth transition owing to their familiarity with TMS systems, and what they can, and should do, for a logistics business.
Not content to sit idle, interested in finding ways that technology could better help them grow their business, Kiser offered that he would like to see some additional capability in the phone application – “a document reader or scanner would help,” he said.
While F2F Logistics, the business itself, is far from ‘mission accomplished’, they are invigorated by their journey and growing in confidence as to what they can do, and how they can grow in the freight transportation industry in the months and years ahead.
As such they are in the field of battle, moving quickly, and adapting along the way.
They are motivated with a sense of purpose, by values – a genuine commitment to doing the right thing, and doing it the right way.
They are driven, no doubt, by a sense of mission – something built right into their company DNA.