ACHIEVING RAPID GROWTH IN A SUPER-COMPETITIVE SECTOR

Quality Distribution is a rare gem in the third-party logistics marketplace. 

Faced with common industry challenges— including rising customer expectations, fierce competition, and rising input costs—the company was thriving. 

They wanted to scale up and create more success for themselves and their clients. Before they could do that, they had to modernize and automate their operations.

The business partnered with 3PL Central to transform sluggish manual warehouse processes into industry-leading, automated operations. 

The benefits of the partnership speak for themselves:

  • Quality Distribution has dramatically increased efficiency and productivity across its workforce, warehouse, and workflows
  • They’ve dramatically accelerated growth and improved their bottom line 
  • They’re supporting customers better than ever before

We talked to Quality Distribution CEO, Steve Bohin, to hear more about the challenges the business faced before selecting 3PL Warehouse Managerengaging 3PL Central—and how much better things became after.

 

 

CHALLENGES

Q: The third-party logistics landscape is bristling with challenges. What was unique about your challenges at Quality Distribution?

STEVE: We had ambitious growth targets to serve more customers, but we’d hit a ceiling. What we do here is pretty straightforward—we bring product in, we store it, and then we ship it back out based on our customers’ needs. But technology is ever-evolving, and we weren’t keeping up with the curve. 

Our server-based warehouse management system (WMS) was 20 years old, which was causing issues. We were also managing many routine tasks in a manual, paper-based way. The more customers we won, the less sustainable all of that became.

Q: How did your outdated WMS prevent you from achieving your growth targets?

STEVE:  A WMS is an integral part of what distribution businesses do day-in and day-out. So it's part of your success or failure. I knew that a WMS should function like our central nervous system and simplify the complexity of managing a warehouse. But it was doing the opposite.

It was holding us back operationally and financially, and putting the brakes on our growth goals. For example, customers were constantly improving their own technology and would be looking for a particular integration, and our WMS wasn’t compatible.

Q: What impact did a reliance on manual processes have on your ability to scale?

STEVE:  Our warehouse staff were doing everything by hand: manually recording inbound shipments, adjusting inventory, and processing often complex customer orders with multiple SKUs key by key. It brought a level of risk too: some tasks were prone to human error, communication with customers wasn’t immediate, and any growth required us to scale up team numbers and absorb big overheads.

We realized that implementing automation within our current operations was a much better way to hit our numbers.

SOLUTION

Q: How did 3PL Central help you create the automated processes you needed?

STEVE:  We implemented two of 3PL Central’s products: 3PL Warehouse Manager and SmartScan. This enabled us to evolve and add more automation to our business. 

3PL Central’s technology makes is easy to track the time and number of inbound and outbound shipments, automate order management, get real-time visibility of inventory, and create repeatable and scalable workflows.

Over time, and with 3PL Central’s support, we were able to replace paper-driven processes with automation and efficiency throughout our logistics lifecycle.

Q: Were you intimidated by the scale of change at that time and how did you manage it?

STEVE: What makes 3PL Central different is they’re so much more than a WMS software provider. They’re an expert, a partner, and an advocate for us. 

They worked with us to make change less intimidating. So they coached us through the initial set-up and provided a dedicated support team.  We don't always know all the answers for our clients, so having an expert to rely on is a huge help. If anything comes up, we can quickly reach out to our Customer Success Manager and find a solution.

Q: How else did 3PL Central support your business beyond the initial implementation?

STEVE:  They worked with us to automate different tasks and integrate 3PL Warehouse Manager with our clients’ own systems. 

On the customer side, they built out countless EDI and API connections that turned slow and repetitive processes into low-touch, automated tasks. 

Even more valuable was their expertise in developing custom integrations for customers with more complex needs. Being able to customize is priceless for us. We want to be our customers’ most valued supply chain solution, and the way to do that is to be flexible and connect seamlessly with their systems—which 3PL Central helps us do.

RESULTS

Q: In terms of actual business impact, how has 3PL Central helped Quality Distribution?

STEVE: Since implementing 3PL Central’s cloud-based WMS, we’ve saved tremendous amounts of time and money, doubled our customer base, and become more competitive and profitable. 

Q: Can you quantify the benefits? 

STEVE: We save $100k a year just on a single integration that 3PL Central facilitated between our WMS and transport management system (TMS), which is pretty incredible. Thanks to automating our processes, we’ve reduced our labor requirements across the logistics lifecycle by 40%.

The efficiency gains we’ve made have enabled us to scale fast and serve new customers. Before 3PL Central, we were servicing 50 customers—now we’re at 100-plus. We also grew our revenue by 35% year over year.

Q: It sounds like the relationship you have with 3PL Central is special?

STEVE: Our relationship with the 3PL Central leadership and service teams is a big factor in our loyalty. They treat us with the attitude that if we’re successful, they're going to be successful—and that's how we treat our customers, too.

3PL Central has the tools, the team, and the resources so that as we grow and the demand for technology increases, they'll be there to point us in the right direction and make sure we keep improving our performance and delivering the values our customers care about.

Q: So, safe to say that you’d recommend 3PL Central to others?

STEVE: Without hesitation. 3PL Warehouse Manager has been a huge tool for helping us grow as much as we've been able to over the past few years. The efficiency gains we make through automation mean we can minimize our costs, protect our margins, and make our pricing more attractive. 

Technology is ever-evolving and 3PL Central is ahead of the curve. They’re an easy company to work with, they develop software that’s easy to understand, and they’re the reason for our growth.

WHAT’S NEXT?

With business operations running more efficiently and productively, Quality Distribution has strong foundations to maintain its position as a leading performer in the marketplace.

With 3PL Central’s continued support, Quality Distribution will keep searching for new ways to automate and make life easier for its customers. 

They’ll continue to save tremendous time and resources, achieve better growth and returns, and keep prices competitive—without sacrificing their bottom line. 

Are you ready to operate more efficiently and grow faster? Request a demo.

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