David I. Beatson, who resigned as chief executive of Circle International Group in mid-May, has resurfaced as chairman and chief executive of a new Internet-based business-to-business exchange called SupplyLinks Inc.
The company will act as a supply-chain network offering procurement and transportation services to manufacturers, retailers and distributors, according to Beatson, who is also a former president of Emery Worldwide. SupplyLinks is initially focusing on companies in the high-tech, aerospace, heavy equipment, pharmaceutical and health care sectors. The company is launching its website, www.supplylinks.com, today.New Meadows Venture Partners, a Silicon Valley high-tech venture capital fund, is providing the start-up funding, while Global Logistics Technologies Inc., better known as G-Log, is supplying the technology. In return, G-Log has received an equity stake in SupplyLinks, based in South San Francisco, Calif.
''Our strategy is to streamline the supply chain, improve efficiency and reduce costs for our clients,'' Beatson said in an interview. ''Our Internet-based solutions will enable our clients to optimize transportation routing by automating and simplifying the processes of buying, transporting and managing goods worldwide. Our system will enable shippers and business-to-business (B2B) exchanges to compare quotes, quality and customer satisfaction ratings, calculate landed costs from multiple vendors and evaluate transportation options.''
What appears to distinguish SupplyLinks from other entries in the world of B2B e-commerce is that it plans to offer procurement and transportation services. Moreover, it will offer shippers options in all transportation modes. For example, a retailer in Chicago will be able to use SupplyLinks to calculate the landed cost if it buys from manufacturers in Taiwan or Texas. The SupplyLinks model will factor in the purchase price and transportation costs.
''Our approach is to link shippers with multiple modes and carriers through one platform. The object is to make the best routing decision,'' Beatson said.
That decision will include the choice of mode, whether it's ocean, air, truck, rail or some combination of those; the carriers within that mode, and the particular route. If, for example, a retailer decides to buy his goods in Taiwan, SupplyLinks will determine whether it's more cost-effective to use ocean or air carriers. If the former, it will choose the ship line offering the most efficient and cost-effective service, along with the route and ports of call. If it chooses air, SupplyLinks will select the airline and airports. In both cases, it would also factor trucking costs into the decision.
Beatson emphasized that SupplyLinks will not be an auction site, nor it will act as a forwarder or non-vessel-operating common carrier.
''We intend to give shippers links to multiple modes and carriers and then let them decide the best route for their particular needs,'' he said.
The big hitch in the SupplyLinks model is that forwarders and carriers will have to register with the company in order for them to be considered as options for shippers. Beatson declined to identify any of the forwarders, carriers, manufacturers, retailers or distributors that the company has been meeting with thus far.
He said SupplyLinks plans to begin beta-testing with some shippers during the fourth quarter of this year and to go live by February or March of 2001.
SupplyLinks will use G-Log's Global Command and Control Center (GC3) as its technological backbone. Eric Chasin, SupplyLinks' chief technology officer, described it as ''the best product on the market for helping our clients optimize the transportation piece of their supply chains.''
Mitch Weseley, G-Log's president and chief executive, described Beatson as ''a top-tier CEO who has the ability to lead the development of SupplyLinks from initial concept to a fast-growing, profitable concern. He really understands what it takes to move freight all over the world.''
SupplyLinks' board is composed of Beatson, Weseley and Tim Sensenig, managing director of New Meadows Venture Capital Partners, based in Saratoga, Calif. Beatson said the company is about to announce a fourth director, a person he described as having extensive experience in transportation.