MIAMI — Faced with shrinking motor carrier capacity for its 450 international importer and exporter customers, one of Miami’s largest third-party logistics companies has launched its own app-based digital drayage brokerage, but with an innovative twist: the shipper, not a computerized algorithm, can ultimately name the price to haul the load.
QuickLoad, which electronically matches full and partial truckload dray shipments with independent truckers, opened its doors to all South Florida shippers in 2015. A year ago it was booking 100 loads a week; today, it’s moving 750 loads a week and looking beyond its borders.
QuickLoad charges truckers 10 to 15 percent of the load whereas brokers can take up to 40 percent of the haul, said founder Ozan Baran. He said drivers are willing to take the QuickLoad shipment without haggling because the haircut is not so severe, and if they do feel it's too low, they will negotiate.
QuickLoad — the anti-Uber Freight, anti-Convoy
The company is the polar opposite of its larger, better-financed competitors, such as Uber Freight and Convoy, which describe themselves as trucking industry disrupters. QuickLoad has declined venture capital offers, has no billionaire investors, and no Silicon Valley or Seattle-minted tech-industry wunderkinds are at the helm.
Instead, trucking is in its DNA, unlike Uber Freight, which bought its way into the business when it acquired that Chicago freight brokerage, and Convoy, whose co-founder drove a truck but its top executives come from the tech industry.
QuickLoad is the entrepreneurial offspring of BOS Group, which itself owns 79 tractor trailers, employs 100 in-house drivers and works with 45 independent owner-operators who operate under the company’s master insurance policy.
BOS Group: Sea container hauling specialist
BOS has built a strong core business hauling sea containers in and out of Port Miami and Port Everglades, serves global shippers at Miami International Airport, and has a five-minute proximity to an East Coast Railway siding.
With parent BOS’ established infrastructure, financial backing, and customer base feeding it jobs, QuickLoad has kept its overhead low. It currently has just 13 employees overseeing a network of 1,000 owner-operators and 2,500 tractor trailers. A major geographical expansion is planned in the first quarter of 2019. The brokerage maintains a separate identity and office away from BOS’ 56,000-square-foot headquarters and warehouse.
Shippers say they like the more personalized platform. “I’m using QuickLoad as a pricing tool,” said Ece Saglam, operations specialist at forwarder LAM World Logistics’ Miami office. “I write down a target rate for my shipment. They offer it direct to their large network of drivers and I get a match right away. I don’t have to interact with a freight brokerage by phone or email and deal with all that back and forth.”
Saglam said QuickLoad’s business model also lets her “negotiate” with drivers if she chooses to. “If I go through BOS, the 3PL [third-party logisitics provider], I am quoted a fixed rate, take it or leave it. Depending on the load and other factors, this approach gives me more flexibility and the drivers and I usually arrive at an agreement quickly.”
The forwarder has tried other digital freight brokers but said their rates are established by a computer where the shipper has no input or recourse.
Direct shipper case study
A direct shipper, Royal Stone, Inc., a Miami-based importer of stone and construction materials from Turkey, Europe, and Asia, uses QuickLoad for local and statewide shipments “because it is so user friendly,” said Nasir Acikgoz, founder-president.
“You are the negotiator, you have the control and you can track the shipment online. I will post the load — say, two pallets from Miami to Jacksonville — give weight, dimensions, time, and distance, and I can get an answer and confirmation within 15 to 20 minutes,” he said.
Acikgoz said QuickLoad’s flexibility has relieved the pressure and pushback he gets from Royal Stone’s increasingly cost-conscious customers. “Carriers keep raising their rates with fuel cost surcharges but when a company lets you negotiate, I can pass the savings along to my customer. That’s critical when you are shipping stone. It’s competitive and I’ve had to adjust my unit price to keep customers happy.”
Royal Stone will start using QuickLoad for shipments outside of South Florida. The importer also has a relationship with AAA Cooper Transportation, a long-established, multi-regional carrier with its own large fleet. “When we post a load on their site, they give us a rate but it’s take it or leave it,” Acikgoz said.
Star Glass Alliance of Miami switched to QuickLoad a year ago for its “transparency and proactive communication,” said Brad Engüdar, president. “We have delicate, special loads and with regular freight brokers, it’s hard to get information. They have to call their guys [drivers], find out what’s happening and maybe they call back. QuickLoad notifies us direct.”
Another logistics provider said it chooses QuickLoad for its dependability. Greta Mena, owner of Sea Blue, transports offloaded containers from the Miami Free Trade Zone to consignees throughout the Southeast.
“They give me fair flat prices but it’s their reliability that I’m buying,” she said. “A container was recently offloaded at 1 p.m. and my customer needed it delivered by 4 p.m. in Miami, no excuses, and they made it happen. Usually those [drayage] deliveries take a minimum of one day.”
She also said Sea Blue gets an electronic proof of delivery (POD) the moment the shipment reaches its destination so she can invoice the shipper and expedite her payment. “Too often, with other trucking companies, the POD comes a day or two after delivery and it causes us delays.”
How QuickLoad incentivizes drivers
QuickLoad’s model incentivizes drivers as well. Owner-operators receive payment in full for the haul within 48 hours without a 2 to 3 percent penalty discount that some digital and traditional freight brokerages extract for a swift payoff.
William Diaz, who owns two flatbed trucks in Miami, said with the QuickLoad app, “I’m getting a lot of full and partial loads, transporting printed materials, and getting my money in two days — always. With load boards, I get paid every Friday or sometimes every other week.” Diaz adds that if he feels QuickLoad’s quoted price is too low, he can negotiate. “I will ask for a little more money — say $20 or $30 — and they usually say yes.”
QuickLoad is generating capacity by targeting owner-operators who are tired of long hauls and “being considered just another name and number in a broker’s database,” said Nelson Bautista, also a South Florida flatbed owner-operator. “I was driving [from] Florida to California, away from my family for weeks and then had to wait to get paid. It was lonely. Now I have a lot of jobs closer to home, they keep in touch and I’m paid.”
Thirteen years ago, BOS was a startup launched by Turkish-born immigrant Baran, who drove a used flatbed truck in Miami.
But with South Florida’s proximity to two seaports, a major airport, and a rail line, Baran, in 2005, saw his future was in logistics and the backbone of his new business would be transporting containers for importers and exporters. Technology, at that time, was limited to the personal computer and fax, and not seen as a driver of BOS’s growth.
“There was a high demand in South Florida at the time for reliable trucking service, highly personalized attention, and excellent customer service,” Baran told JOC.com, “and there still is. Over the years, the demand broadened into third-party logistics, so we added warehousing, packing, fulfillment, air cargo, even an office rental facility for our customers who are small international shippers.”
Even as BOS’s in-house truck and driver fleet was expanding, his customer base of South American and European importers and exporters was growing faster, said Baran. How could he keep pace without adding assets? “Several years ago, I saw that trucking was quickly moving toward technology, independent owner-operators wanting to fill out loads, and everyone wanting something simple and user friendly.”
He also recognized that shippers and drivers wanted to negotiate. However, BOS, like other third-party logistics companies, quoted fix rates for their services. With QuickLoad, he could experiment and “go against conventional wisdom.”
He hired Marianna Schiavino, a gaming software mobile app specialist as marketing director, who, in turn, recruited tech savvy staffers from Uber, HBO, and Yahoo. “The challenge was to educate the shipper and freight forwarder that QuickLoad could be more efficient,” she said. It was a delicate dance because they did not want to cannibalize BOS Group’s customer base.
Baran describes it as an option and a way to capture new shippers and loads as trade continues to grow through South Florida’s multimodal gateways.
Baran said his contrarian approach to trucking is the same reason he did not seek venture capital and, in fact, declined offers of outside financing in exchange for a share of the business six months after launching.
“My thought was let’s prove the concept first before we waste anyone’s money. We’ve proved it and now we’re expanding it. But one day we will do fundraising,” Baran said.
Contact Chris Barnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.