Rob Ten Brinke On What Makes A Successful Third Party Logistics Provider

Rob Ten Brinke:  Oh, well, the owner Randy and I were buddies in college and I had started out life as a social worker and then I was in marketing and advertising and I was kind of working all over the place, doing 3, 4 jobs. I had a young baby at home and I just wanted to do something, one job, one thing in the daytime and Randy was 2 years into this, working in his basement and he needed someone to help. He was like, “Rob, come on. I need somebody here,” and I just sort of fell into it. I went to work with him and here I am 18 years later.

Aaron Ralph Thomas:  Wow. What has been 1 or 2 key reasons why you’re still there?

Rob Ten Brinke:  For myself personally, I liken us to a mini Google or a mini Zappos. Of course we’re not that company, but it’s not corporate. It’s privately owned and we can do what feels right and make decisions quickly. It’s a fun job. It’s not about following the corporate trend. It’s about relationships and it’s about doing what feels right and I think that holds me.

Aaron Ralph Thomas:  I can definitely appreciate that. When you’re in a business and you enjoy what you do, it’s like there’s no reason for you to leave.

Rob Ten Brinke:  Yeah. Absolutely. Good people, great people. I think of all the things we do. I enjoy the people that work here. We made some decisions a few years ago that we want happy people and if you’re not happy, don’t be here. I know our employees. I know their kids. I know what’s going on with them. I talk to them about their struggles and their ‘this and that’ and we’re involved. We’re active with our employees. We do things with them. About a month and a half ago, on a Saturday, we all went on a canoe trip together. I think about, what was it, 3 months ago now, we took the company down to Mexico to the Mayan Riviera for our 20th anniversary. Everybody came.

At the 10 year it was Vegas. We don’t have a Christmas party. We have what we call a Christmas Extravaganza, because it is an extravaganza. It’s something really nice and it’s really special. Besides the time off we give employees, we also give them extra time at Christmas. Everybody works hard. We give them 2, 3 extra days at Christmas, so we try to give everybody a week off and that doesn’t even count on your time off. It’s just constant feeding with each other, but what you get back though, is if I need an employee to work 2 hours extra, I never ever, ever, ever, ever ask. They just do it. It’s just a very reciprocal thing. When you want people to care, you got to care about them. I think that’s the magic right there.

Aaron Ralph Thomas:  What’s in store for Service Freight? I know that you guys have been on a tear. Last several years you guys have grown like crazy, so what’s in store in the near future for Service Freight?

Rob Ten Brinke:  Well, of course growth. We’ve really moved our focus towards the food industry, refrigerated trucking and logistics. I think it’s just going to be a continuation of that really. It’s really moving in that direction. People are beginning to see us as experts. Not only as experts but as a company that can work with all the ins and outs of this industry. But I think more-so than that, it’s just kind of taken on a life of its own where people just say, “Hey, you should talk to these guys. They’re fun.”

Who doesn’t like fun? It’s all right to call here. It’s all right to work here. We don’t give you a hard time with claims. We don’t give you a hard time. People like calling. People like dealing with us, so I think at the end of the day, if you think about yourself, if you can go to one grocery store and pick up your groceries but there’s another grocery store that you can go to and geez the employees are having fun and they’re casual and they got some music going and they kick a joke, which one are you going to go to?

Aaron Ralph Thomas:  Yeah, you definitely want to go with the fun one.

Rob Ten Brinke:   Right.

Aaron Ralph Thomas:   When you reach out to prospective clients, what is it that you see that’s their biggest need? What is their biggest pain point that they’re having with logistics?

Rob Ten Brinke:   Ironically, communication. That’s all I can say is communication. That’s it. It’s that simple. It really, really is, and it’s being heard. Claims, not that we have a lot of claims or anything like that, but clients are afraid of claims because the industry really is … There’s this process that is so daunting to put in a claim that I would say over half of them don’t even bother because it’s so difficult, it’s so daunting and I think that’s the strategy of that. Ours isn’t. You got a claim and it’s legit? Here you go. We’ll work it out for you. I think that makes a lot of jaws drop.

Aaron Ralph Thomas:   Rob, that you for taking the time to join us. For those who would like to know more about Service Freight Systems or to reach out to you, what’s the best way for them to know more about Service Freight or to reach you?

Rob Ten Brinke:  They can always have a quick peek at our website, or can give me a buzz toll-free in North America. 800-693-9119, extension 221.

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.