Ask anyone in Chicago’s logistics and brokerage community for the best reason to set up shop there and the answer is always the same: the work force.
Chicago draws young, talented people from across the Midwest and boasts several top-notch universities with supply chain and logistics programs, including Northwestern University, Elmhurst College and the University of Illinois.
“These kids are smart, they’re hungry, they’re not entitled,” said Jeff Silver, CEO of Coyote Logistics. “They want to come to Chicago and work here.”
“It may sound trite but there is an attraction to being in a big city like Chicago,” said Jim Giblin, chairman of the Traffic Club of Chicago’s education committee. “If you’re in your early 20s, you want to work in the city,” said Robert Nathan, CEO of Load Delivered Logistics. “You don’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere.”
Coyote, Load Delivered and Total Quality Logistics all won workplace awards last year related to their Chicago location and hiring patterns. Coyote, with headquarters in the Green Exchange building in the Logan Square neighborhood, was named one of the city’s top 100 workplaces last year by the Chicago Tribune. The company also was honored last year by Inc. in its inaugural Hire Power Awards. Coyote created nearly 600 jobs from 2008 through 2011, with payroll hitting 1,200 in 2012.
Coyote planned to hire 400 in 2012, and continues to hire at a fast pace. “Our revenue objective is $1 billion (a year), and the number of people that comes with that is probably 3,500,” Marianne Silver, chief people officer, said in an interview last year. “As our network and density grows, the people side has to grow.”
Coyote also topped the Inner City 100 list created by Fortune and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. Load Delivered and TQL both made the Brill Street Top 50 Chicago Gen Y Employers list. Load Delivered’s work force, including its CEO, is 99 percent Gen Y — the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s. “We look for intelligent, introspective people who have been on teams and who know how to win and be competitive,” Nathan said.
Logistics operators aren’t waiting for employees to come to them. They’re getting involved in education to draw potential candidates to logistics. Coyote last year joined an initiative launched by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to transform Olive Harvey College, one of Chicago’s seven two-year city colleges, into a “center of excellence” for logistics, distribution and transportation education. “We have employees who are involved in designing curriculum, lecturing and hands-on workshops,” Silver said.