Food Freight Expert Randy Stanbury on the Future of Transportation Logistics

By A. Ralph Thomas

Randy_StanburyTrucking and delivering food may seem like a simple process from the outside. Goods go from point A to point B. But what happens when issues arise…like a truck getting stuck at the Canadian/US border, or when there are averse weather events, or a driver gets sick?

Randy Stanbury, president and owner of Service Freight Systems and Warehousing, knows that what separates the average freight service company from a quality business are two simple factors – customer service and the ability to adapt to the future. Stanbury ensures that his company stays on top of both through a variety of different ways.

Aaron Thomas: Today I have with me Randy Stanbury. Randy is the co-author of the bestselling book “The Expert Success Solution” which tackles 22 barriers to success in business and in life.

Randy is a thought leader in food transportation and logistics, and spends a considerable amount of his personal time keeping track of the latest trends in technology.

Randy is the president and owner of Service Freight Systems and Warehousing where he helps food company manufacturers to have a worry-free experience in the shipping of their goods. Welcome to the call, Randy.

Randy Stanbury: Hey, thanks, Aaron.

Aaron Thomas: First of all, let’s talk about your book. You are a co-author in the bestselling book “The Expert Success Solution.” Can you talk a little bit about your contribution to the book?

Randy Stanbury: Yes. There was 22 authors who came together. Each of us put a chapter in this book, and all coming from our different areas of expertise, wrote what we wanted to really bring to the table and share with the readers. The content that I shared was really a big, bold ambition. I discussed what it takes to go from an idea to actually making that real, making it happen, taking anything in life that you have a deep desire for and just going after it, having nothing stop you, nobody gets in your way. Whatever barriers do come up, you’re able to knock them down and keep moving forward. There’s a process to that. I believe there’s a 13-step process to that, and that’s what I outlined in my chapter.

Aaron Thomas: Yeah, that’s very good. A lot of times you have what I call dreamers, people who say, “Hey, Aaron, I have an idea,” or, “Hey, Randy, I have an idea,” but what seems to be the missing step is actually taking that idea and putting legs under it and actually getting action from that.

Randy Stanbury: Yeah. I think, quite honestly, the biggest roadblock is themselves. It’s their own heads. We get in our own way, whether it’s from how we grew up, what we were told along the way over the years that you can’t do it, you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, you don’t have enough money, you don’t have enough education, whatever that may be. We just stop ourselves from taking action and going forward, and every time we run into a roadblock, when the road gets tough, it’s really a matter of changing course, changing path, finding a new way, finding a new solution and keep moving forward.

If we don’t have some real, real legs behind us, then we’re not going to advance and we get stopped. Really, there’s billions of billions that get started and never get finished only because of all that.

Aaron Thomas: Yeah, that’s a shame, too, because if there were more finishers out there, the world actually would be a better place. There are a lot of great ideas or a lot of great things that get started, but they never really come to fruition. It’s really a shame. It’s good that you were able to add that contribution to be able to say, “Hey, this is how to be able to get some legs behind your whole dream, behind your whole vision.”

Randy Stanbury: Yeah, that’s it. When we find that things get difficult, most of us will stop taking action. The biggest piece is following the leaders and who has led that path before us, really blaze the trail and modeling after the masters. A big part of that is just understanding what they’ve done and how they’ve got there and taking the road, not recreating the wheel, but what worked for them and then be innovative in that process. Not just copy, but being innovative with following their tenacity to get to where they got to. It’s very cool. It has helped a lot of people that I’ve seen that would’ve got to where they wanted to get to.

When we were kids, we all had big dreams. Somewhere I would say probably age eight or ten, a lot of those dreams get squashed because our parents, schools, civilization, people, they start telling us what we can’t do or what’s impossible or “don’t be silly, that’s crazy.”

Peter Diamandis talks about before a breakthrough, the day before a breakthrough was a crazy idea. I love that all crazy ideas can be breakthroughs if can keep moving forward.

Aaron Thomas: You happened to mention Peter Diamandis. I know he does a lot of talking about the future. He’s definitely cutting-edge of what the future is going to be like. He’s the founder of the X Prize and of Singularity University. He’s really into the future. What are your thoughts about Peter and what are your thoughts about the future?

Randy Stanbury: Peter is definitely on the top of my list of inspirational influencers, game changers in so many industries. He’s just involved with so many things. Quite honestly, his words and his beliefs are big, bold ambitions. That kind of inspired me to go do what I’m doing today. He runs this event called Abundance 360. It’s an annual event where basically brings with the latest, greatest exponential technology and how they’re affecting the world and how they’re going to affect the world tomorrow, what the future is going to hold. He is just absolutely out of this world. Literally, because he’s put people into space.

A lot of what my beliefs today and my thoughts about what’s possible for tomorrow has come from that first Abundance 360 that I was at. Today I see that what’s possible is so much greater if we look at use of technology, if we look at the use of crowd sourcing, crowd funding, if we look at just all of the potential gathering of knowledge and information, whether it’s through incentives like the X Prize, or what Peter’s put together at Zero Gravity Corporation. It’s really made what was seemingly impossible so much more possible today for anyone to go and make happen, which I think is pretty exciting stuff.

I see some real serious, serious changes and disruptions coming in the trucking world and my intention is to be at the very forefront of that, which I am today in terms of the thoughts and process of ideas and what my organization is trying to put into place to disrupt our industry in a positive way for the drivers, for the clients, and for the overall client-user experience.

What we must realize is that the very first autonomous truck is on the road as of today, and that’s so recent. It’s only in the last couple of months that that’s happening, and that’s a pretty exciting time for the fact that we’ve had an extreme driver shortage over the last number years and it’s not getting any better.

If we can have autonomous trucks on the road, it’s going to change the whole dynamics of the trucking world. Then what’s possible from that, it’s just endless really if we think about what’s possible from there.

Today they’re looking at having a human in the truck with the autonomous truck only to manage some of the road blocks or things that they come in the way of whether it be large amounts of snow or some situations that might need a human interaction. Surely, in time a human won’t even need to be in the truck, but for the time being, that’s the way it’s going to be. Will that be more appealing for a human to want to be a driver and be in that position? I think so.

That’s going to change our driver shortage I think immensely. We have a driver shortage problem. We also have to realize that with the new technologies and what the future holds with 3-D printing, there’s just so much coming down the pike that is going to change the requirement for the volume of trucking that’s being done as well. We have to adjust to that but the volume of trucking is going to become really exponential in terms of mileage needed for a product to get to a destination.

Today they say the average product runs about 2,500 miles to destination from pickup. In the future, that’s going to be cut down to a minimal amount. Long-haul trucking is not going to be as needed.

Aaron Thomas: Yeah. I think it’s easy to be afraid of the future or to maybe even discount it to say, yeah, I understand that it might be a truck out there that’s on the road, but this industry is not going to change. This industry hasn’t changed in 100 years and we’re not going to be changing. I think it’s easy to bury your head in the sand and to think that way, but I think the real forward thinkers are saying, wait a minute, the technology is here and it’s only going to get better.

Can you talk a little bit about the exponential factor of technology and how even right now it’s maybe one truck on the road, but how the exponential factor can really change things and change things quickly?

Randy Stanbury: Yeah. It really comes down to what’s referred to Moore’s Law, how technology gets faster and cheaper and it seems to be doubling every 18 months. Even today, they’re realizing that that technology in some cases is actually doubling at the speed of not 18 months, but half of that in 9 months.

Peter will talk about and has brought up an example of Kodak. When Kodak created the digital camera, it was so cumbersome and big and out of date and slow that it just wasn’t a useful tool or product at that time of conception. What they weren’t looking at was Moore’s Law and realizing that with X amount of doubling that that would be a very viable product and completely wipe out the need for printed photos, and Kodak was really in the chemical business.

At the end of the day, Kodak shelves that potential product and not seeing the exponential possibility of that product. Before long, that product that they created initially almost put them out of business and they just didn’t see it. They didn’t see it coming because they weren’t looking at it as that being a possibility that quickly.

When you look at exponential, I don’t know the exact math, but 30 exponential steps takes you literally around the world where 30 linear steps takes you 30 steps away. Every step is doubling. One step takes to two, to four, to eight. By the time you keep doubling, the staggering growth of that is almost hard to imagine the possibility of where that will take you or where it can take you.

I can tell you four years ago when I first heard some of this technology and first heard some of the possibility, I shelved it myself. I thought that just doesn’t make any sense. How is that possible? How is that going to change things? Over the last four years in staying in touch and on top of this stuff, it’s blowing my mind more and more every day that this is happening. It’s happening rapidly. It’s actually increasing in speed, in time. The more that we discount it, you’re basically digging your own grave in terms of a business sense just that much faster.

We have to be creating incubators within our own organizations. That’s what we need to be doing today to stay cutting-edge, to stay competitive.

They say the Fortune 500s, most of them are not going to exist in a short period of time and they don’t look at disrupting themselves. If they’re not disrupting themselves, somebody else is going to. It’s just a matter of which one you want to take, the one you direct or the one that’s given to you. The one that’s given to you is real sort.

Aaron Thomas: From my perspective, I know that your company helps food manufacturers to have a worry-free experience in the shipping of their goods. In thinking about that, my thought of shipping is more limited. It’s more in smaller packages and things like that. It’s Amazon, ordering, getting things on FedEx, getting things on UPS.

I know that on Amazon, Amazon has the guarantee. I’m an Amazon Prime member, and they’ll say, “We guarantee two-day delivery.” Guaranteed delivery. As far as guarantees, do those same type of guarantees apply when it comes to the shipping of food products from manufacturers?

Randy Stanbury: As far as guarantees go in the trucking world, whether it’s food or any other product, at the end of the day, there’s no way that anybody can guarantee a delivery 100% that that delivery is going to be on time. When we’re traveling, if we look at averages of 2,500 miles that a product takes to get to the destination, and whether it’s a short haul, 500 miles or less, the bottom line is there’s too many things that can go wrong whether it be weather, equipment, human problems, human error. A driver has a death in the family, he’s going to stop. A driver gets sick himself. There’s way too many things that can potentially stop you from even being able to make that delivery on time.

What we always say is there’s no way we can guarantee your delivery. We’re no different than any other truck on the road. We have the same potential for those things to go wrong. Do they go wrong? Yes, they do. Anybody in the shipping world, anybody in logistics, transportation, whether you’re out in the shipping or receiving end, understands that there’s going to be delays and there can be delays.

Now, those delays don’t happen every day. It’s a small percentage of time that they’re not on time, but when they are, it’s now a matter of what you do with it. It’s not about what you do with it after the fact. It’s about what you do with it prior to the fact. How can we be proactive in the transportation process? That’s what we can guarantee. The only thing that I can guarantee is our communication level will be 100% on time and 100% accurate in terms of the information that we have and the honestly that we’re going to provide to you. We might as well tell you exactly what’s going on, so that we can deal with it along the way so that you can make arrangements whether it’s ship changes, whether it’s product line changes or just simply having somebody stay later to receive a product. It can be that simple.

If we are not on top of it and we don’t know it, then the worst thing that happens is when a client, and it certainly is the worst thing that happened with our client, but if a client ends up getting a call from one of their clients that the product has not arrived and where is it, then to me, that is a shame because there’s no way that that should happen. We should know about that in advance.

Never should you get blindsided by a call like that. Our goal is to 100 % wipe out that blindsided call, be proactive, make the arrangements that’s needed, make it simpler, make it worry-free, make peace of mind, and make sure that in that process that you’re a happy client because you understand that delays are going to happen, but what are we doing about those delays and how can we mitigate the issues, the problems, that can occur from not being proactive. If a line goes down because a product didn’t show up, that just absolutely should ever happen. We know well in advance, if we’re doing our job properly, as a provider of transportation. As the third-party, we don’t do the pickups and deliveries. We don’t have that concern. What we have is to make sure that we follow up and communicate better than anybody else on the planet in terms of the logistics and the supply chain and getting product from A to B.

Aaron Thomas: Can you give me an example of how that’s done, if there is an issue along the transportation cycle?

Randy Stanbury: How that’s done in our world is pretty simple. We make sure that we’re over staffed in terms of our tracking and tracing function. I want to make sure we have more than enough people taking care of that role. That way, we never run into a situation where they just didn’t have enough time to get to a particular order. What I mean by that is if an order is supposed to be delivered today by 4:00pm in Toronto, say, and it was coming out of Florida, then we need to know, first of all, that first thing this morning has it crossed the border? Did it cross the border last night?

That’s one of our first things that can happen is it doesn’t across the border for whatever reason. Once we know it’s across the border, then we know we’re only so many hours away at that point. We’re going to check it again I would suggest by noon and make sure that at that point nothing has stopped us along the way, that we’re still in good shape. At that point, if he’s around the corner, then we know we’re good to go and we know that we’ve mitigated any potential risk of it not getting to destination on time.

If they are running into a problem we know that at 8:00 in the morning because it hasn’t crossed the border, then we know we still got some time at the border. We’re going to dig into the problem. We’re going to find out are they stuck in customs? If it’s some paperwork issues, is that something we can deal with prior to our final deadline to be through customs and through the border in order to still make our delivery time?

At that point, if we know that we’ve got two or three hours left and the problem is going to be taken care of, we’ll follow it through until it’s done. Then once he’s on the road, we’ll know that, provided we don’t run into any further problems, we’re still going to make it on time. That’s a simple form.

We’re going to inform our client that they’ve run into some customs issue. We might need our clients to jump in and get involved with clearing up any issues. If not on top of that, it’s going to be 4:00pm. The client is going to be calling saying, “Where’s the product?” Nobody knows because they’re still stuck at the border and nobody’s done any follow-up on it. That happens time and time and time again.

Pretty much every conversation that I have with a potential client, potential new client, I ask them, “What’s the one thing that you would change? If you had a magic wand, what would be that one thing you would change in your current carrier base, the current providers that you use?” Hands down, 99.9 % of the time, they say it’s communication. It’s the dishonest, lack of proactive communication to let us know what’s going on in the process.

That makes me smile every time because I know that we are absolutely the best provider, the best communicators bar none in our industry. Any client will tell you that we have, “I’m not concerned one bit,” when I hear that that’s what they want to change because I know that I don’t have to talk to my team about, “We’ve got a potential client here. All that they want is this. If we can provide them this, we’re going to do well with this client.” I don’t have to tell them that. They live, eat, sleep, and breathe that in terms of our culture.

We’ve created an extreme culture of care that just reeks of communication to the extreme and a follow up, stay in touch, make sure things happen. Our team is an incentive to help the company grow. They know that they’re into a profit sharing situation and every time that we see an opportunity like that, it’s just one more chance to bring on a new client, grow with that client, and successfully help that client overcome the hassles that they’ve experienced over the years of just simply not having good communication.

Nobody has been able to master it. It seems like a simple process. It’s not rocket science. Not one competitor that I know of out there has mastered it like we have, and that’s not bragging. That’s just simply what the industry tells me over and over and over.

Aaron Thomas: It seems to me that you found your sweet spot there in the industry. I know that, or at least I can imagine, when you have large manufacturers or large companies who are trying to transport their goods that they probably use quite a few different companies. When you start off, it’s probably maybe a trial or something like that. How does that work?

Randy Stanbury: Typically, when we get an opportunity, my belief is always to say we’re not looking to come in and handle every order and wipe out any carriers that you use currently. We just want an opportunity to prove ourselves, to prove what we say is actually the truth. They hear it all day long. They hear what I say all day long and they see that the results not to be true, over and over and over.

I just say give us a chance to show you a different client experience, show you a different experience in our process. You can almost guarantee that after the first shipment, the second or the third shipment, they’re convinced that, “Okay, they’re doing something different. They’re actually providing things that we’ve been looking for and I want to use these guys hands down going forward, so I’m going to give them a few more shipments. I’m going to give them a few more lanes.” A lane is a point A to a point B, so Toronto to Florida, Florida to Toronto. That’s a lane. They’re going to give us the next lane and that next opportunity.

And we slowly build up, and by piece by piece, lane by lane, we take on the next one and the next one and the next one. That has been our success that’s solely been built on our team, our people, and our culture. How we hire is not from within the industry. I like to hire, and my experience has shown me again without fail that the best people to put in our team for our clients are not from within the industry. They come with a different background. They have a beautiful character about themselves that is extremely caring, and we bring that to the table. We bring that to the table. It’s a different experience. It’s not rooted in the trucking world or in the trucking background, I’d say.

It’s how things work for us. Again, it seems so simple, yet it works so well. It’s worked for us time and time again that we get the right people. As Jim Collins would say out of “Good to Great” you get great people on the bus and the wrong ones off. That’s a measure and a lead to greatness that’s working for us right now.

Aaron Thomas: I can tell based on the growth of your business and how you’re taking the time to go to conferences to stay on top of the future and what’s going on with technology. You mentioned being part of Abundance 360 and things of that nature. I can tell that the future definitely has something great in store for you.

I appreciate you taking the time to be part of this.

Randy Stanbury: Yeah, thank you. I wanted to add as you talk about Abundance 360 and various conferences that literally I spend thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars a year, probably close to $100,000 a year, just in deepening education and staying on top of what’s new and what’s current and where things are going and that’s thanks to just a multitude of amazing experts and people that I’ve gotten to know and know personally over the years. That’s helped me really become not just who I am but how I think today.

I would love to be able to share if anybody wants some of the updates and information that I’m gathering, that I have to share in what today’s marketplace is bringing. It’s crucial that we as CEOs, presidents, managers, high executives that we know what’s being disrupted out there and how close it is to disrupting us, and viewing those tips and insights as to how we can disrupt ourselves before we actually get disrupted.

I’d love to share some of that. I’ll give you my e-mail. You can send it to randy (at) servicefreightsystems dot com. I’m also looking always to create a high level mastermind group of shippers, clients, whether it be the food business or any other industry that we can help out in terms of their growth because their growth ultimately helps our growth. If they thrive, we thrive and I want to help them thrive and together we can make that happen.

If anybody wants to email me, please do, and I’m happy to respond. Let’s get connected one way or another.

Aaron Thomas: That sounds fantastic, and I’m sure that there will be those who will take advantage of that. Thanks a lot for taking out the time to join with me today, Randy.

Randy Stanbury: Okay, thanks, Aaron. I appreciate it. You have a great day, man.

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A. Ralph Thomas

A. Ralph Thomas is a Contributing Writer to Business Innovators Magazine and a Host on Business Innovators Radio covering Business Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Business Success.