Readers’ Choice: Top 10 3PL Excellence Awards 2013


About the Survey Respondents
Built to Last: A Sampling of Reader Comments
3PLs to Watch

Supply chain challenges can weaken a business’ foundation, clogging product flow, wearing away at customer satisfaction, and draining profits.

Whether companies need a minor supply chain touch-up or a major overhaul, enlisting a knowledgeable third-party logistics (3PL) provider can help them make the most of their resources.

Smart logistics managers know the traits of a great 3PL:

They’re available and accommodating when you need them. “When no one else can cover a load, BNSF Logistics can,” says L.L., transportation agent.

They’re reliable in times of trouble. “Transplace delivers excellent customer service, dedication, and commitment,” reports inbound scheduler L.M. “They take ownership and can make a bad situation right.”

They have the experience and dedication to deliver results. “J.B. Hunt’s personnel have superior industry knowledge and drive to meet customer requirements,” says M.G., traffic manager.

They’re flexible and agile. “UPS adapts processes and systems to allow us to be a more competitive organization,” reports V.B., inventory control director.

And sometimes they simply make everything work better. “Penske’s staff is second to none; every detail is handled professionally and to the customer’s satisfaction,” states R.W., senior business analyst.

By managing transportation and logistics functions, 3PLs allow companies to focus on their core competencies, driving efficiency and supporting more profitable operations. That’s a plan any business can get behind, and a partnership worth building strong—and celebrating.

Our 2013 Readers’ Choice Top 10 3PL Excellence Awards give logistics managers a chance to praise the providers who make a difference for their businesses. Supply chain professionals from companies including consumer packaged goods manufacturers, food companies, automakers, and retailers—both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce—weighed in, casting 9,276 ballots in this year’s survey.

Representing global leaders such as PepsiCo, Target, Chrysler, AT&T, Boeing,, Del Monte Foods, MillerCoors, and Walgreen’s, they spend millions annually on logistics services. (See About the Survey Respondents.)

Whether they’re scheduling deliveries, buying transportation services, or setting corporate supply chain strategy, our readers have strong feelings about the logistics and transportation providers that help build their business. (See Built to Last for a selection of voter comments.)

For many readers, communication is a top priority. “With Unyson Logistics, it’s plain and simple: you can get someone on the phone, and get answers,” notes S.D., merchandise coordinator.

Other readers give high marks for reliability. “With C.H. Robinson, we know we’ll get on-time deliveries in perfect condition,” explains E.R., traffic coordinator.

“When Echo makes a promise, they go out of their way to keep it,” says B.M., customer sales.

Overwhelmingly, voters cite outstanding customer service as the provider quality that wins them over. In fact, although 63 percent of respondents list cutting transport costs among their greatest challenges, 64 percent rank service as more important than cost when it comes to their 3PL partners.

“Ryder is quick to react, cares about its customers, and works hard to implement strategies and solutions to more effectively manage its customers’ freight supply chain needs,” says J.D., supply chain manager.

“Menlo meets or exceeds our customer service expectations at almost every opportunity,” says M.T., materials movement and distribution manager. “They are fast to respond, and follow through to ensure we are satisfied with their services.”

When 3PL/shipper relationships are that strong, businesses can feel confident that someone has their back. “Kenco wants what is best for our company, and always tries to achieve it,” states J.R., logistics coordinator.

On the following pages, we feature shippers’ most esteemed partners—the 3PLs that help them get organized, streamline operations, and build the best supply chain possible.

1. C.H. Robinson

Why They Won:

One secret to C.H. Robinson‘s success is accessibility. The Eden Prairie, Minn.-based 3PL’s network of more than 275 offices across the world allows the company to have a local presence with a global reach. “Building local customer and contract carrier relationships has been an important part of our success, and our worldwide network of offices supports our core strategy of serving customers locally, nationally, and globally,” says John Wiehoff, CEO and Chairman of the Board at C.H. Robinson.

That customer service focus is not lost on IL readers. One sums up the C.H. Robinson experience this way: “They handle our business as if we were their only customer.”

Customer Matt McInerney, executive vice president at produce industry association Western Growers, agrees. “C.H. Robinson’s account managers have strong customer service and problem-solving skills that make them trusted and invaluable consultants for our members,” he says.

Case Study: Igloo Books

Founded in 2003, Igloo Books—which designs and distributes books to customers in 50 countries—achieved double-digit growth in three years, creating new supply chain challenges. Managing large numbers of carrier relationships became unsustainable.

As Igloo Books’ sole freight forwarder, C.H. Robinson consolidated all of the company’s purchase orders from Asia to the United Kingdom. That fundamental process change met the company’s growth needs while providing greater efficiency and a lower price per copy. Igloo Books also obtained market intelligence and analysis that helped it forecast more effectively and kept costs under control.

During this collaboration, Igloo Books has increased its business by 20 percent year-over-year. While C.H. Robinson coordinates the logistics, Igloo Books focuses on sales and company growth.


2. Ryder

Why They Won:

Combining great execution with specialized expertise and Lean guiding principles sets Ryder apart. The Miami-based 3PL “runs a tight ship, meets all requirements, and is a top-quality company,” says one reader.

Continually adapting and pursuing improvements is a hallmark of the business. “Our people specialize to achieve deep understanding of the industries we serve, and Ryder has successfully deployed new services and capabilities to support its clients in CPG, retail, high-tech, and automotive,” says John Williford, President, Global Supply Chain Solutions, Ryder System Inc.

Client Roster:

  • Cisco
  • Fresh & Easy
  • Milo’s Tea
  • PepsiCo
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • Bendix
  • Toyota
  • Bacardi
  • Pilot Pen Mexico
  • CVS Caremark

Case Study: Bendix

Vehicle products manufacturer Bendix had been faced with rapid growth, increasing supply chain complexity, and rising transportation and distribution costs. The company needed to increase efficiency and visibility, and wring excess costs from its supply chain.

Bendix partnered with Ryder to implement a suite of logistics services that streamlined transportation and distribution activities, consolidated inbound and outbound domestic and international shipments, added crossdocking capabilities, and optimized packaging.

As a result, Bendix reduced its overall supply chain costs by $12 million over three years. It also reduced labor costs by 15 percent and increased throughput by 180 percent in its Sparks, Nev., warehouse, where Ryder implemented a distribution management solution in 2010.

3. Transplace

Why They Won:

Looking out for customers’ interests and developing industry expertise play a major role in Transplace‘s service strategy—and it shows.

“Transplace brings deep experience and understanding of the packaging and manufacturing industry, along with comprehensive logistics technology, to help our organization increase service levels and on-time deliveries,” says customer Mark P. Roy, executive vice president, Paperboard Group, PaperWorks Industries Inc.

“They help us be the best we can be,” says another satisfied Transplace customer.

The Frisco, Texas-based 3PL works hard to earn that praise. “Our customers, like most businesses, need to save money while also improving service to their customers,” says Transplace CEO Thomas K. Sanderson. “We help them pursue both goals. Our supply chain network design services, combined with superior execution and technology, enable our customers to achieve excellence.”

Client Roster:

  • Ainsworth Pet Nutrition
  • Anna’s Linens
  • Baker Hughes
  • Colgate-Palmolive
  • Daltile
  • Del Monte
  • Diamond Foods
  • Huhtamaki
  • Sunny Delight
  • U.S. Gypsum

Case Study: Daltile

Transplace and tile company Daltile—along with appliance manufacturer Whirlpool, plastic product maker Convermex, and ladder manufacturer and distributor Werner Ladders—made the challenging concept of supply chain collaboration a reality by executing a plan that impacted capacity utilization, sustainability, and cost.

Through the collaborative process, Transplace and Daltile leveraged visibility and experience in moving goods across the U.S.-Mexico border, while applying innovative freight costing models to evaluate logistics costs. The project ultimately netted the shipping partners a 20- to 30-percent cost reduction and a lower carbon footprint.

4. Menlo Worldwide Logistics (TIE)

Why They Won:

IL readers value the San Francisco-based 3PL’s “industry leadership in advanced supply chain management” and “high operational efficiency.”

The 3PL applies Lean principles to drive efficiencies, continuous improvement, and ongoing cost reduction. “We focus on optimizing the flow of products through the supply chain,” says Robert Bianco, President, Menlo Worldwide Logistics. “We listen to customers, refine and adapt our services, then use our neutral platform to enable strategic collaboration and a solution that fits the customer’s needs.”

That strategy works for customer David Swanson, general manager of Geistlich Pharma North America. “Menlo is an outstanding 3PL partner and a best-in-class organization through its people, systems, and capabilities,” he says.

Client Roster:

  • Bobcat
  • BP
  • Caterpillar
  • Cisco Systems
  • General Motors
  • HP
  • New Era
  • Nike
  • PKC Group

Case Study: PKC Group

PKC Group specializes in electrical systems for the commercial vehicle industry. Its supply chain challenges included integrating and managing inbound supplier shipments and outbound shipments to customer-owned distribution centers throughout the NAFTA region. The company asked Menlo Worldwide Logistics to provide a seamless transition, with no customer service interruption, while reducing costs, eliminating waste, and improving customer service.

Using Lean tools and methodologies to streamline transportation management and promote continuous improvement, Menlo transitioned PKC Group’s entire supply base to a new border-crossing location within 45 days, improving average pickup and delivery times by 98.8 and 98.5 percent, respectively. It also established a continuous improvement roadmap to drive greater year-over-year efficiencies. The project generated nine-percent annualized transportation savings in its first six months.

4. UPS Supply Chain Solutions (TIE)

Why They Won:

UPS strives to deliver a comprehensive logistics solution to help companies compete anywhere in the world. “Businesses not only want UPS to help them expand into global growth markets, but simplify the supply chain at the same time,” says Brad Mitchell, President of UPS Global Logistics and Distribution. “Our unique global infrastructure and integrated approach allow us to deliver these solutions.”

For IL readers, the Atlanta-based 3PL’s “excellent communications,” “exceptional response times,” and “collaborative and innovative continuous improvement” make all the difference.

Client Roster:

  • Sprint
  • Toshiba
  • Philips Healthcare
  • Skullcandy
  • Triumph Motorcycles
  • Advanced BioHealing
  • Embraer

Case Study: Triumph Motorcycles

In 2010, U.K.-based Triumph Motorcycles began a reorganization of its North American operations to increase sales in what has historically been its largest market. In 2012, it was the fastest-growing motorcycle brand in North America.

UPS worked with Triumph Motorcycles to develop an optimized parts and clothing warehousing and distribution solution that could improve customer service and support Triumph Motorcycles’ long-term, strategic plan to increase its business and dealer footprint. UPS relocated Triumph Motorcycles’ distribution operations to a UPS-owned facility in Elizabethtown, Ky.

The partnership allowed Triumph Motorcycles to focus on sales, marketing, and customer service while utilizing UPS’s logistics expertise.

“From a pure logistics point of view, the Elizabethtown facility has helped us achieve a reliable service network for our dealers,” says Paul Checkley, general manager, global logistics and parts, at Triumph Motorcycles.

5. J.B. Hunt

Why They Won:

J.B. Hunt is proud of our ability to safely and professionally handle transportation requirements across a wide variety of industries,” says Shelley Simpson, President, Integrated Capacity Solutions, and Chief Marketing Officer, J.B. Hunt Transport Services. “Our asset-based, integrated, and flexible 3PL model gives our customers peace of mind; they know their freight is in good hands, from start to finish.”

Readers who voted for the Lowell, Ark.-based 3PL agree, calling the company “the best of the best,” and praising it as “committed to not only service, but also safety.”

The 3PL’s technology tools also give shippers a competitive advantage. “J.B. Hunt has been a great single-source solution for our transportation management,” says Jeremy Powledge, chief financial officer, Ricos. “Utilizing its TMS, we have gained great visibility into our overall freight network, and continuously find opportunities to optimize it.”

Client Roster:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Temper-Pedic
  • Sonoco
  • International Paper
  • Mission Foods
  • Frito-Lay
  • BJ’s Wholesale Club
  • The Home Depot
  • Sysco
  • Scotts
  • Ricos Products

Case Study: Ricos Products

Snack foods supplier Ricos Products selected J.B. Hunt Transport as its single-source solution to provide optimization, routing, carrier management, and shipment visibility at the SKU level.

The goal was to provide Ricos economic value through the service and cost relationship, and deliver valuable service-related information through metrics, measurement methodology, and reporting.

6. Penske Logistics

Why They Won:

Headquartered in Reading, Pa., Penske Logistics continues to make substantial investments in its technology, workforce, and truck fleet, as well as adding to its service and solutions offerings. “Many of our customers have adjusted to the ‘new normal’ slow- or no-growth business environment,” says Marc Althen, President, Penske Logistics. “They are seeking cost-saving logistics and warehousing approaches to help drive efficiencies.”

Elizabeth Hall, senior transportation manager, Whirlpool Corporation, is one customer reaping the rewards of Penske offerings such as its Beachwood, Ohio, Load Control Center (LCC), where the 3PL dynamically optimizes and builds shipments to minimize costs and maximize service.

“The LCC has helped take our transportation operations platform to a new level,” says Hall. “We now execute our transportation strategy on one platform, increasing service to our customers while driving down costs.”

Client Roster:

  • BMW
  • Cardinal Health
  • Ford
  • Whirlpool
  • Wawa

Case Study: A Top-Tier Auto Parts Manufacturer

A North American automotive parts manufacturer was forecasting significant production volume increases for two facilities in Mexico. Inbound shipments to the locations included domestic Mexico and U.S. supplier pickups, border crossings, and line-hauls to the company’s Mexico facilities. The manufacturer needed to minimize costs without impacting service levels.

Penske Logistics developed a comprehensive transportation management technology solution, and a gain-sharing agreement to maximize collaboration by both organizations.

The manufacturer saw immediate benefits from Penske Logistics’ management and monitoring of carrier rates and loads. The 3PL also instituted a cost-per-mile model that delivered 10.4-percent transportation spend savings, while still accommodating the spike in production volume with no service-level impacts.

7. Kenco Logistic Services

Why They Won:

Long-time customers come to rely on the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based 3PL’s supply chain expertise. “Kenco has been a true partner to Cummins for more than 16 years, and continues to find new ways to drive uncommon value for our company,” says Gordon Fykes, director, diversity procurement at engine manufacturer Cummins Inc.

Creating lasting partnerships takes effort. “For more than 60 years, Kenco has been building customer relationships that span decades,” says Jane Kennedy Greene, the 3PL’s Chairwoman and CEO. “With more than 100 dedicated and public/multi-client facilities totaling 30 million square feet, we are well-positioned to provide a unique value proposition for our customers. Our long-standing Lean Six Sigma strength gives our customers an advantage in today’s highly competitive environment.”

The 3PL’s customers agree. “Kenco has handled our product for several years and we have not had one single issue with their service,” reports one IL reader.

Client Roster:

  • Whirlpool
  • Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
  • Honeywell
  • Stryker Medical
  • Kohler
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Ralston Foods
  • Carrier
  • DuPont
  • Cummins

Case Study: A Leading Beverage Company

A fast-growing coffee, tea, and beverage company partnered with Kenco Logistic Services in 2007 for its direct-to-consumer U.S. distribution. The 3PL began with a flexible solution in one of its southeastern multi-client facilities. By 2009, Kenco leveraged its West Coast multi-client facility to open a second DC that reduced transit times and increased service levels. Then, to facilitate distribution to multiple trade channels, it opened a greenfield operation in the Northeast in 2011.

Over a five-year period, Kenco’s solution grew from a 30,000-square-foot facility to 1.7 million square feet across five facilities. The 3PL’s flexibility supported volumes fueled by a 70-percent average annual growth rate.

8. Echo Global Logistics

Why They Won:

Echo Global Logistics delivers insights and uses data to develop successful solutions. “They look forward to the challenge, and they respond to it well,” says Bob Hickey, president of strapping and packaging company Samuel Strapping.

IL readers celebrate the Chicago-based 3PL’s “excellence in execution,” “focus on collaboration,” and “creative problem-solving.”

As transportation costs continue to rise, Echo stands ready to help. “Companies that want to control escalating transportation costs must continually improve their supply chain,” says the 3PL’s CEO, Doug Waggoner. “Echo enterprise clients get visibility to their transportation cost drivers, and our account management teams develop a clear understanding of their challenges and limitations. This allows us to efficiently and effectively identify potential improvements to a client’s transportation spend.”

Client Roster:

  • Guthy Renker
  • Elkay
  • Daktronics
  • Archway
  • Culligan
  • Samuel Strapping

Case Study: Samuel Strapping

Strapping and packaging manufacturer Samuel Strapping’s main goal was to implement best practices based on transportation data. Thanks to the company’s integration with the Echo Evolved Transportation Management System, Samuel Strapping now has a wealth of transportation data at its fingertips.

The 3PL matches order information with the company’s key performance indicators—including on-time shipping and delivery percentage, and average transit time—to help Samuel Strapping make informed business decisions.

Echo also analyzes Samuel Strapping’s logistics data and makes optimization suggestions. Optimizing orders has helped Samuel Strapping’s customers run their businesses more efficiently, because they have fewer purchase orders, fewer shipments to receive, and fewer checks to cut.

9. Unyson Logistics

Why They Won:

Unyson customers appreciate the Downers Grove, Ill.-based 3PL’s “best-in-class customer service,” “excellence in communication,” “outstanding on-time delivery performance,” and “fast issue resolution.”

Attention to customer priorities helps Unyson stand out. “Our customers are under constant pressure to reduce costs, but still require full supply chain visibility,” says Donald Maltby, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Unyson Logistics. “We develop and execute customized solutions that drive savings. Even more importantly, we provide decision support through business intelligence and analytical capabilities to support continuous performance improvement for our customers.”

Chuck Weigand, vice president of transportation, Lumber Liquidators, is one Unyson customer benefitting from these capabilities. “Unyson has provided Lumber Liquidators with improved costs, reliable delivery to our 300 stores, and access to tools that allow us the visibility to analyze our supply chain,” he says.

Client Roster:

  • Big Lots
  • Nexeo Solutions
  • Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
  • Toys R Us
  • The Home Depot
  • WD-40 Company
  • General Mills
  • Pfizer
  • Lumber Liquidators
  • Nestlé

Case Study: Toys R Us

Unyson Logistics and Toys R Us began a transportation management partnership in 2008, working together to design and implement a process in which shipments that were not consolidated within Toys R Us were transmitted to Unyson. The 3PL would then perform an incremental optimization that leveraged its collaborative network and crossdocking network solution.

Unyson’s technology allows Toys R Us to collaborate with other retailers and the retailer’s own vendors to maximize network efficiencies. Additionally, the consolidated shipments reduced the company’s carbon footprint, and increased efficiencies at its distribution centers.

10. BNSF Logistics (TIE)

Why They Won:

For customer Dan Prochazka, transportation manager at paint manufacturer Valspar, BNSF Logistics stands out in a crowd. “Over the past year, BNSF’s efforts to get competitive rates, attention to details, and follow through to shipment completion have been among the best out of our more than 100 national service providers,” he says.

IL readers echo his praise, citing the Springdale, Ark.-based 3PL’s “no-hassle service,” “consistent and reliable results,” and “deep industry knowledge.”

The 3PL pledges to stand by customers in uncertain times, and guide them in expansion efforts. “The domestic market continues to recover and grow, but the international scene is still experiencing turbulence tied to consumer demand and European/Asian economic issues,” notes BNSF Logistics President Ray Greer. “It’s wise to proceed with caution in the global markets. We are expanding in key economic trading regions to better serve our North American clients here and around the world.”

Client Roster:

  • Valspar
  • La-Z-Boy
  • Clearwater Paper
  • Owens Corning
  • Joerns Healthcare
  • Tejas Tubular
  • Niagara Bottling

Case Study: A Healthcare Supply Company

A large health services industry supplier was sending multiple daily less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments from a central location, with sporadic volumes throughout the United States and concentrated activity to Northeast and West Coast destinations. Visibility and service consistency issues plagued the company, along with excessive damage to fragile components.

Routing LTL shipments through BNSF Logistics addressed the visibility and service consistency issues. Consolidating regional LTL into full truckloads at origin reduced handling through the typical LTL network, and damage claims dropped significantly.

10. Landstar (TIE)

Why They Won:

Capacity shortages worry many shippers—but the Jacksonville, Fla.-based 3PL aims to protect its customers from service concerns.

Landstar continues to stay ahead of the curve regarding the new Hours-of-Service regulations and changes to critical enforcement programs such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program,” says Henry Gerkens, Landstar’s Chairman, President and CEO. “We provide educational tools and dedicate significant compliance resources to support our Landstar-exclusive business capacity owners (BCOs), and have invested in technology applications to help apply carrier selection standards when managing third-party capacity needs for customers. Our investment in technology—such as electronic logging devices for BCOs, or systems that provide timely carrier eligibility management based on safety and service standards—allow for a unique capacity offering designed to provide best-in-class solutions.”

IL readers who voted for the 3PL are generous with their compliments.

“They excel at meeting our demands,” says one.

“Their service is above all others,” reports another.

“Landstar is the greatest company we’ve ever used,” states a third.

Case Study: A Major Energy Equipment OEM

An energy original equipment manufacturer (OEM) was seeking a logistics provider in North America that could improve logistics management for its domestic nuclear power plant division’s projects.

Landstar worked with the OEM’s leadership to develop standardized processes to minimize risk, and improve reliability for all shipments. Its on-site staff functions as an extension of the manufacturer’s supply chain organization, while its technology improves visibility to the company’s logistics network for internal and external resources.

Landstar’s solution provides a scalable operations model that’s flexible as shipment volumes fluctuate, and assures the shipper its capacity needs are met on time and at a competitive rate.

About the Survey Respondents


Corporate Management (36%)

Supply Chain/Purchasing/Supply Management (18%)

Transportation/Traffic Management (13%)

Logistics/Distribution (22%)

Operations (11%)


Manufacturer (42%)

Retail/Wholesale (41%)

Services or Government (17%)

Transport/Logistics Spend

More than $50 Million (25%)

$10-$49 Million (41%)

$1-$10 Million (22%)

Less than $1 Million (12%)

Services Readers Buy

Air Freight Services (50%)

Motor Freight Services (TL/LTL) (74%)

Ocean, Ocean Intermodal (37%)

Rail, Rail Intermodal (44%)

Small Package Delivery, Expedited, Express (64%)

3PL, Contract Logistics (66%)

Supply Chain Technology, Software/Systems (49%)

Transportation Equipment (19%)

Warehousing & DC Services (61%)

Materials Handling Systems, Equipment, Forklifts (37%)

Packaging/Labeling Systems (13%)

International Shipping, Freight Forwarding (45%)

Fleet Operations, Dedicated Contract Carriers (29%)

Site, Port, or Facility Selection (31%)

Built to Last: A Sampling of Reader Comments

“Kenco has never let our company down as a 3PL service provider. I trust their knowledge and dedication, and know that every load they book for us will be handled with professionalism and on-time delivery.”—C.P., materials manager

“Menlo Worldwide Logistics works well with us to bring seamless logistics operations to our company.”—S.R., director, logistics operations

“Penske Logistics meets and/or exceeds all of my expectations.”—A.R., product distribution

“Landstar’s mixed use of assets and third-party solutions is second to none.”—J.B., agent

“J.B. Hunt offers more than 20 years of experience, technology, and a partnership mentality.”—J.S., business development executive

“Echo Global is willing to jump through hoops to get things done for my company. The best part is, they usually don’t have to bend over backward, but they will. A low rate quote is nice, but it pales in comparison to good service.”—E.T., supply chain manager

“C.H. Robinson just gets it right all the time.”—M.H., general manager

3PLs to Watch

Although they did not receive enough votes to place on this year’s Top 10 list, these 3PLs made a strong showing in our reader poll:

  • Access Logistics
  • APL Logistics
  • Coyote Logistics
  • Exel/DHL
  • Geodis Wilson
  • Expeditors International
  • Saddle Creek Logistics Services
  • SEKO
  • TQL
  • Unishippers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *