Top 10 3PLs Readers' Choice Excellence Awards

Tags: 3PL, Partnership, Third-Party Logistics

These third-party logistics providers have earned your trust—and your votes—with their consistency and customer service.

AND THE WINNERS ARE:
1. Echo Global Logistics
2. Hub Group
3. Kenco
4. Sunset Transportation/
GlobalTranz (TIE)
5. SEKO Logistics
6. FEDEX Supply Chain
7. UPS Supply Chain Solutions
8. Werner
9. DHL Supply Chain
10. R2 Logistics/
XPO Logistics (TIE)

Shippers seek constancy and support from their third-party logistics (3PL) providers as upheaval and disruption have punctuated supply chains for the past year. The 3PLs garnering a Top 10 3PL Excellence Award were the most steadfast of all.

With more than 14,500 votes cast, our audience has revealed the 3PLs they trust the most. The providers on this short list have been reliable and responsive in uncertain and unpredictable conditions, through material shortages and demand volatility.

"They make our job easier" is a constant refrain among voters, when asked why their favorite 3PL merits recognition. For instance, a Lexington, Kentucky-based maker of power tools says of our top spot holder Echo Global Logistics: "One email or phone call and it's done."

The ability to execute shipments consistently is no less than a lifeline as freight capacity constraints persist. By managing a portion or all of a shipper's transportation and logistics operations, 3PLs keep supply chains moving, even in the face of port congestion and labor shortages.

They do this by leveraging their expertise, resources, and increasingly, their technology to optimize shipper operations and provide efficiency-boosting insights. For instance, a respondent from U.S. Paint, a manufacturer of custom paints and coatings, says of Sunset Transportation's information technology (IT) solution, "Their platform provides reporting to track out spend and opportunities for improvement."

Even with a wealth of choices among pure-play technology vendors, the majority of our audience rely on 3PLs for IT systems, with 73% of shippers in our 3PL Perspectives report (see page 74) indicating they leverage transportation management systems, warehouse management systems, and other IT solutions from their 3PLs.

The importance of IT applies to supply chain touch points across all verticals, which are represented in our Top 10 survey. From consumer packaged goods to pharmaceutical to automotive sectors, survey respondents hail from wide-ranging markets (see About the Survey respondents, page 106).

Voters include supply chain decision-makers from trillion-dollar companies Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft; retailers such as Best Buy, Target, and Walmart; as well as manufacturers Boeing, Caterpillar, General Motors, and Tesla (See Thank You to All Who Voted on page 116).

Year after year, our audience lauds the 3PLs most proactive in communication and customer service. The most trusted and turned-to providers get the job done, every time. They're resourceful and responsive, offering technology solutions that yield supply chain efficiencies.

About the Survey Respondents

ONES TO WATCH

These 3PLs received a good number of votes, but not quite enough to crack the Top 10 list.

  • BlueGrace
  • C.H. Robinson
  • Dimerco
  • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
  • GEODIS
  • Landstar System
  • Maersk NeoNav
  • Penske Logistics
  • Saddle Creek Logistics Services
  • Schneider National
  • Uber Freight
  • Unishippers

In Their Own Words

I consider Echo Global Logistics more than just a 3PL—to me, they're a co-worker.

—Camping World

Sunset Transportation has shown excellence beyond words in customer service, responsiveness, cost reduction initiatives, services, functionality, tracking, coordination, integration, etc. They have by far exceeded the standard.

—Wexford Labs

Kenco manages a large, complex business on our behalf, while driving out cost and improving service/quality.

—Stryker

R2 Logistics is the one and only vendor that is willing to help us at the drop of a hat.

—D3H Home

Sunset Transportation is a right-size 3PL with a family-owned mindset and flexibility to adapt to larger problems.

—BizLibrary

GlobalTranz is available whenever I call and provides ongoing updates on critical shipments. They are friendly, helpful, and provide logistics information as to what is happening around the world. I feel well informed.

—Signicast

Kenco is a company that stands behind its word, with people who are honest and pledge to serve the customer.

—Blue Buffalo

Our company has a ton of last-minute changes and SEKO Logistics helps to accommodate us every step of the way. SEKO is great at handling our logistics to 1,000+ partners and is efficient with handling returns as well. SEKO hits urgent delivery deadlines.

—Company name withheld by request

1. Echo Global Logistics

Why they won:

Echo has developed strong partnerships with 50,000+ carriers, creating a robust network that allows the 3PL to move 16,000+ shipments every day for more than 35,000 clients.

The trust and credibility built in a highly competitive industry are testaments to Echo's expert logistics professionals, industry-leading technology, and exceptional service, which allow them to provide shippers and carriers with the best solutions to meet their unique needs.

"We've worked with Echo for many years and have developed a strong partnership based on communication and trust," says David Wozniak, marketing director at Taraca Pacific. "We know we can rely on Echo to go above and beyond for us, whether that's finding the best route for a single shipment or guiding us in developing and improving our entire distribution network."

"They have done an excellent job of sourcing capacity from top-notch carriers at some of the best rates in the market without sacrificing safety on the road or the care of our goods," he adds.

This past year, Echo launched EchoShip Rewards, a loyalty program for clients, and added new benefits to EchoDrive Preferred, a rewards program built for carrier partners.

Many of Echo's clients were impacted by the pandemic, and each client has their own specific set of issues. Echo is committed to ensuring their supply chains remain uninterrupted. Recognizing that one solution does not fit all, Echo works closely with each client to evaluate their current network and constraints and make recommendations that improve shipping operations and eliminate supply chain bottlenecks.

Echo's clients have access to EchoShip, a self-service web portal that enables them to quote, book, ship, manage invoices, and track shipments in real time, all while supported by Echo's team of experts.

With EchoDrive, Echo's proprietary web portal and mobile app, carriers are able to search, bid, book, manage, track, and get paid on freight hauled for Echo.

Client Roster:

  • Archway
  • Culligan International
  • Duracell
  • Greenheck
  • Johnstone Supply
  • Newell
  • Omron
  • Purely Elizabeth
  • Taraca Pacific

2. Hub Group

Why they won:

Hub Group is celebrating 50 years of service, integrity, and innovation. The company creates innovative, end-to-end supply chain solutions tailored to each client's unique business needs.

From activating comprehensive technology for added visibility and efficiency, to leveraging strong third-party relationships and the industry's second-largest private intermodal fleet, Hub Group provides access to the right support and the right end-to-end supply chain solutions, at the right time.

Customers recognize the value Hub Group brings to their operations. "Hub Group has been a strategic provider for TrinityRail for more than six years," says a TrinityRail spokesperson. "Hub Group delivers value to our supply chain through increased visibility, service, and savings.

"Having solid relationships with stakeholders is key to staying ahead of supply chain disruptions. Regardless of the challenge or situation, Hub Group can be counted on to provide innovative solutions and a path forward that supports our long-term company goals," adds the spokesperson.

Hub Group personalizes its offerings to meet each client's needs. With a single point of contact, a robust lineup of tech-enabled assets, and strong third-party relationships, customers are on the receiving end of innovative, new ideas that drive long-term potential.

3. Kenco

Why they won:

During an unprecedented year, clients acknowledged Kenco's ability to quickly adapt to change, whether that was sudden shifts in consumer demand, the need for new safety measures, or creative approaches to a difficult labor market. Kenco has always touted its agility and customer service, but 2020 was the year Kenco proved that it walks the walk.

Because the single greatest challenge right now is the labor market, where it is increasingly difficult to attract and retain quality employees, Kenco is doubling down on investing in innovative labor solutions.

For instance, in 2020 Kenco co-invested with one of its Fortune 500 clients to implement an automated storage and retrieval system that significantly reduces their dependence on labor as well as their footprint. Kenco is also the first North American 3PL partnering with Phantom Auto to use its remotely operated forklift solution, expanding the labor pool by removing geographic restrictions to hiring.

The pandemic accelerated trends that were already in motion, including the shift to omnichannel, tightening capacity, and the need for more supply chain agility and resilience. It also highlighted the fragility of supply chains, from overdependence on Chinese manufacturing and top cybersecurity threats to backlogged U.S. ports.

As a domestic 3PL, Kenco is often the final link in the supply chain. That's why Kenco is increasing its investment in innovative automation and technology solutions to relieve labor, space, and freight capacity constraints and increase speed of delivery.

4. Sunset Transportation (TIE)

Why they won:

Sunset's culture is a definite differentiation from other 3PLs. The company doesn't try to be everything to every customer, but rather forms a partnership of trust that builds over time.

The internal Sunsetter team embraces the company's family-style approach of accountability and creating relationships, and that mindset translates into how much Sunset cares about doing the right thing for customers.

Despite the significant growth Sunset has experienced over the past few years, they have worked hard to maintain the Sunset Way culture in every aspect of the business.

During the past 18 months of an extremely challenging pandemic, Sunset's customers have valued stability and communication from their 3PL over anything else. Sunset remained committed to their changing needs while making sure safety and flexible solutions are effectively communicated.

While it hasn't been "business as usual" this year for so many people, Sunset has stayed loyal to these core values and that has made all the difference in their growth and success.

Customers appreciate that commitment.

"Sunset is an important and strategic partner in the Navistar logistics network," says Taip Memishi, senior procurement manager of global logistics at Navistar. "Sunset remains committed to supporting business requirements and ensuring superior performance.

"With an unwavering team, Sunset has earned a position of trust and reliability; leading with a solid 'customer-centric' approach," Memishi adds. "Sunset is well-deserving of their Top 3PL ranking."

4. GlobalTranz (TIE)

Why they won:

Today's shippers are navigating increased customer expectations, changing buying behaviors, evolving inventory management, and ongoing market volatility. GlobalTranz partners closely with customers to drive supply chain resiliency, competitive and operative advantage through data-driven supply chain optimization, multimodal solutions tailored to their business needs, award-winning technology, and exceptional carrier relationships.

Customers recognize GlobalTranz' exceptional service. "We work very closely with our GlobalTranz account team," according to one client in the food and beverage industry. "They are always quick to answer our phone calls and emails and they provide efficient solutions to our logistical needs.

"We think of them as an extension of our business due to their constant contact and hard work on our account," the client adds. "We look forward to a lasting partnership with the team at GlobalTranz and we appreciate all their efforts to help us grow our business."

"They are prompt with email responses, quick to act, and accommodating for many challenging scenarios," says another customer. "We use the GlobalTranz Transportation Management System (TMS) to book LTL shipping to deliver furniture pieces to customer residences and businesses.

"We find the GlobalTranz TMS convenient and easy to use, including filing claims. As a furniture company, we value customer satisfaction and rely heavily on quality shipping."

Client Roster:

  • Beckman Coulter
  • Canyon Bikes
  • Castore
  • Cath Kidston
  • Dell EMC
  • Escalade Sports
  • Peli BioThermal
  • Thuma
  • Weber

5. SEKO Logistics

Why they won:

SEKO provides complete supply chain solutions, specializing in transportation, logistics, forwarding, and warehousing. Its innovative and configurable IT solutions provide a seamless flow of information and give its growing client base true supply chain visibility.

SEKO's unique business model provides customers with hands-on service and support; personal relationships; creative, configured solutions; responsiveness and reliability; and flexibility and consistency.

SEKO's lean and nimble management structure enables them to deliver solutions that can meet each customer's exact requirements, increase decision-making speed, and implement configured solutions.

SEKO is committed to developing efficiencies and optimizing every customer's supply chain. It takes the time to understand each client's requirements and builds its processes and services around that business.

SEKO's logistics solutions are lean and efficient, with the core aim of improving customer satisfaction and keeping businesses running at peak performance. As a customer-focused organization, SEKO is "fast on its feet" in delivering solutions that meet clients' exact requirements.

Just ask Ember. "We knew we needed a great third-party logistics partner to handle projects like launching in Apple stores in 26 different countries and, in a single day, opening global e-commerce channels and supplying to Tmall China," says Phil Poel, chief operating officer at Ember. "That in and of itself tells the story of why we needed a reliable logistics partner on our side."

6. FedEx Supply Chain

Why they won:

FedEx Supply Chain has the experience and skill to help companies succeed when faced with even the most complex logistics challenges. The 3PL provides objective insight into logistics processes, helping customers identify which changes to make—and which to avoid.

Whether it's an established business or a rapidly growing company, FedEx Supply Chain provides solutions designed to scale with the business over time. For small businesses, FedEx Supply Chain offers a comprehensive warehousing, fulfillment, and returns solution that enables a seamless experience for both the SMB and its customers.

"FedEx Supply Chain worked with us to find the best solution for our needs and enabled us to scale, which we wouldn't have been able to do alone," says Luke Geddie, CEO of Skinny & Co.

FedEx's experts identify opportunities in the supply chain and work to develop best-in-class solutions to achieve profitable growth.

"Our company prides itself on creating a meaningful connection with our customers," says Deepa Gandhi, founder and chief operating officer, Dagne Dover. "We are excited to work with a 3PL that understands this and helps us create those connections."

FedEx Supply Chain's services range from e-commerce fulfillment to supply chain and transportation solutions. It offers its supply chain expertise across key industries including retail, healthcare, industrial, technology and electronics, and consumer goods.

7. UPS Supply Chain Solutions

Why they won:

UPS Supply Chain Solutions (SCS) helps companies of all sizes see the big picture. It is focused on providing customers with the visibility, expertise, and control to make more informed business decisions by putting the customer first, being people led, and driving innovation, which helps deliver more value across the entire supply chain.

The 3PL's supply chain expertise, end-to-end services, and value-added solutions are designed to scale with growing businesses and help them grow even faster.

"I didn't realize UPS had an e-commerce fulfillment solution for small business," says Tim Gibb, co-founder, Tidal New York, a UPS SCS customer. "Their all-in-one platform coupled with a bicoastal fulfillment network differentiated UPS. It has let us focus on the important parts of running our business while UPS takes care of the warehousing and order fulfillment. It was an easy choice."

UPS SCS helps companies manage their flow of goods from receiving to storage to order processing to shipment. The company offers warehousing and distribution services, e-fulfillment, and service parts logistics.

"UPS SCS has been focused on connecting our digital technologies across the end-to-end supply chain, including warehouse systems, robotics, artificial intelligence, visibility and shipping platforms, sensor technology, and many other innovative solutions," says president Philippe Gilbert. "This is transforming how we do business and the experience for our customers."

Client Roster:

  • Aria Vent, Inc.
  • Cool Carats
  • Core Health & Fitness
  • eSecuritel
  • Garage Flooring Inc.
  • Japan Airlines
  • K12
  • Kingsdown
  • Lupin Pharmaceuticals
  • Overstock.com
  • Sealed Air
  • The Neff Company
  • Tidal New York

8. Werner

Why they won:

Werner Logistics focuses on providing a premier experience to all of its customers, carriers, and talent. As an asset-based 3PL, its team of experts has all the tools and resources to solve customers' supply chain challenges.

In addition to its talented team, Werner is on its way to becoming the first North American carrier to move its entire tech stack and operations to the cloud. This includes the implementation of MasterMind, a new cloud-based transportation management system that aims to make supply chains smarter and more efficient.

This year, Werner also introduced Carrier's EDGE, a self-serve, digital carrier platform designed to increase available freight visibility and streamline communications.

Even though the transportation and logistics industry continues to see strong growth, post-pandemic supply and demand have created extreme challenges for 3PL customers. Werner utilizes multiple capacity solutions to meet the demands of consumers, including more than 33,000 alliance carriers, 7,700-plus trucks, 24,000 trailers, access to 95,000 rail containers, and 170-plus final mile terminals.

Ocean capacity is extremely tight, and carriers are adjusting their networks to maximize the availability and utilization of containers. The result is fewer inland services being offered in most countries, especially the United States.

This trend is creating increased demand on domestic trucking, transloading, and rail providers. Companies that can effectively manage multiple modes will have the best chance of preserving supply and maintaining transit times.

Werner is working with customers to integrate its domestic capabilities into the traditional international supply chain to keep freight moving. This advantage of having assets and a strong network of transportation partners allows its customers to engage multiple transportation modes through one relationship. This is an essential piece as many companies are not equipped to manage more complex multi-mode shipments.

Client Roster:

  • Dollar General
  • The Home Depot
  • Walmart

9. DHL Supply Chain

Why they won:

DHL Supply Chain, a global and North American contract logistics provider, attracts and retains dedicated associates with a team-based culture focused on continuous improvement and operational excellence.

DHL offers a broad suite of integrated solutions, bringing greater flexibility, predictability, and speed to customers' supply chains. Anticipating and adapting to the changing market, DHL committed this year to purchase 2,000 robots from Locus Robotics to deploy in e-commerce or consumer warehouses, increasing efficiency and accelerating delivery processes for customers.

Against a background of rising costs and volatile markets, companies are under pressure to do more with less and get the goods to market even faster—while improving service levels for customers. DHL Supply Chain enables customers to grow their business by providing more certainty in operating performance, as well as implementing lean logistics processes that deliver greater efficiency, flexibility, agility, and resilience. By optimizing supply chains to enhance performance, the customer can spend more time focused on core business and strategy.

Customer behavior has been thrown off kilter by the pandemic, which has made it extremely difficult to predict flows and trends. Having the right logistics infrastructure and operations will be crucial to provide a seamless customer experience, ensure total logistics cost savings, and, more importantly, rapid response and resilience.

The operational agility that DHL Supply Chain provides its customer network has significant strategic advantages in establishing competitiveness and enabling them to adapt quickly to changing social and economic climates.

"Working with DHL Supply Chain, we have an exciting opportunity to further strengthen our services and support our goal of generating above-market growth through the execution of our material conversion and water management solutions strategies," says Scott Barbour, president and CEO, Advanced Drainage Systems.

Client Roster:

  • Advanced Drainage Systems
  • Brooks Running Shoes
  • Carrier
  • Ferrero
  • Glanbia
  • IKEA
  • Siemens Healthineers
  • Xerox

10. R2 Logistics (TIE)

Why they won:

R2 Logistics offers industry-leading supply chain management services to shippers of all sizes. R2's strong reputation as an industry leader was built on its culture of reliable service and relentless passion.

R2 Logistics utilizes technology to ensure the highest level of accuracy and service. With an integrated customer portal, the company's tools deliver real-time connectivity across the supply chain. R2's transportation management system allows customers to rate shipments and receive real-time visibility into their logistics network.

The company provides the right solution to meet any customer needs, whether it's LTL, truckload, managed transportation, expedited and air, intermodal, ocean, flatbed/specialized, or reverse logistics. R2 Logistics works with a vast array of industry types. With this variety comes an assortment of needs for each customer. A talented and expert team of transportation professionals understands these individual requirements. Whatever a customer's need may be, R2 has a solution.

That dedication to customer service is embedded in the culture of R2 Logistics. Its service principles hang on the walls of each R2 office and serve as a reminder to always offer an unrivaled customer experience.

"As we faced the challenges of last year head on, I'm incredibly proud of the work our team has accomplished to keep our service-based model running at such a high level," says John Pavlick, president of R2 Logistics. "Having our carriers and customers validate this by voting us into the Inbound Logistics Top 10 3PL Excellence Awards again this year is very special, and we thank them for their continued partnership.

"We are honored to be recognized as a Top 10 3PL for the third consecutive year," he adds.

10. XPO Logistics

Why they won:

XPO Logistics brings technology, scale, and expertise, as well as something unique—customized logistics solutions that transform challenges into competitive strengths—to every customer relationship. Its scale helps deploy innovations across multiple geographies in a relatively short period of time.

"We constantly pilot new innovations that deliver smarter supply chains to better serve our customers," says Mario Harik, CIO.

Customers want to de-risk their supply chains with more automation and better visibility into the movement of their goods. XPO Connect, a digital freight platform, gives customers the flexibility to source reliable truckload capacity at the optimal price, gain market insights, and tender loads at their convenience.

With compressed fulfillment times, a cost-effective way to meet customer expectations is through advanced automation and intelligent machines in XPO's distribution centers.

XPO customers appreciate that innovation. "We want to solve the challenges around visibility when shipping less-than-truckload," says Brad Strang, senior logistics manager, Floyd Home. "E-commerce demands real-time visibility into our supply chain, and we wanted a solution that lets us see how our goods move from the beginning through to delivery.

"With the XPO Direct model, we've been able to achieve that," he adds.

The acceleration of e-commerce is driving significant growth across the supply chain, fueling the shift to outsourced logistics. E-commerce requires human and technological resources to address rapid growth, seasonal peaks, and shifts in consumer behavior.

"Automation gives our operations the ability to flex with demand and deploy our resources where they have the most benefit," Harik says. "We also use predictive analytics to reduce goods-in-transit time by repositioning inventory close to target populations as demand patterns change. This shortens time from order to delivery and cuts response time for inventory stocking and replenishment."






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