How Westech Logistics and E.J. Freight acted as TMS design partners for their own operational growth
Corrie WhiteMonday, December 13, 2021
Shippers want versatile performers and top-notch carriers in their supply chains — a fact underscored by the last 20 months of capacity shortages. But nearly 80% of freight in the U.S. is hauled by carriers with fewer than 100 trucks — carriers that often couldn’t afford the technology that would help them look and act like larger carriers in the digital marketplace.
Westech Logistics, a small trucking company in Oklahoma, launched four years ago as an oil field operation, but when that industry took a hit at the outset of COVID-19, it made the transition to traditional freight with its 30 trucks. With that transition came the growing pains of finding loads and establishing relationships with new customers.
“We went from needing about two people to bill, dispatch and everything else to needing four people to handle the same amount of work,” said Sergio Stoesz, VP of operations at Westech Logistics. “We were not using a TMS before. We were keeping track with Excel spreadsheets and folders. With the additional growth hauling different freight, we saw that we were spending more time on billing, finding loads, which was using more manpower. A few months ago we started looking for a TMS. That’s how we found EKA.”
Small companies are often left behind with fewer software options, Stoesz said. Some of the larger TMS providers cost four times what EKA charges and without as many features.
According to EKA’s founder, J.J. Singh: “The costs carriers have to pay are too high. It is our intent to reduce all these technology costs. You pay for only what you use. We have the incentive to help them grow their business, and we grow as they grow. We make it affordable and easy for the driver and dispatcher to work together. We’re trying to take out as many redundancies in these services as we can to reduce the cost of the technology stack.”
In relationship with EKA, Westech Logistics was able to influence feature designs. Since its operation is owner-operator based, each settlement requires a manual deduction of insurance and other fees. EKA created an upload portal for Westech to easily create the loads.
“It reduced working time from maybe two to three hours to about a 10-minute process,” said Stoesz. “When we brought a few of our concerns when we started about how things would work, they immediately addressed them, adding new features to EKA, which really helped us feel comfortable with switching. Before I settled in EKA, I tried out about 15 different softwares.”
EKA easily integrated with Westech’s previously established providers like KeepTruckin’ and Quickbooks, which created a more unified platform for operational visibility, the ease of remote work transitions, as well as a reduction of errors — like sending the wrong documents to customers or entering data into the wrong cell.
“When you are trying to juggle so many different programs, you miss stuff,” said Stoesz. “That’s one of the biggest things we have noticed is our decrease in errors has been insane. We went from making a few a week to maybe one or two a month, so that’s just been fantastic and it’s also helped give our dispatchers more time to solidify relationships with customers and to work on finding better paying freight.”
Every carrier operation is different, and for those that also act as a shipper and broker — EKA allows users to alternate between brokerage and fleet management in order to perform multiple functions and roles as needed.
Originally established to support the transportation needs of its poultry distributor, E.J. Freight has grown from six to 25 reefer trucks since February 2020, as well as added a power-only program on its logistics side. That growth, which EKA played a significant role in bolstering, came from targeting new customers in existing lanes.
“The folks who started EKA have a very deep understanding of the freight environment and multiple different aspects of transportation,” said Puneet Bawa, VP of operations and finance at E.J. Freight. “Their knowledge is far more than just trucking operations. A lot of our relationships stem through EKA, like our use of Transflo and a fuel card. We were able to save over a couple of hundred thousand dollars in fuel costs this year compared to last year, just in discounts.”
In terms of onboarding and training, EKA provided E.J. Freight with a sandbox version of the platform in which to practice and plan. Like Westech, E.J. Freight’s feedback drove improvements and tweaks in the final software product.
“Our makeup in the office is very diverse,” Bawa said. “We have folks that are interns all the way to folks that are in the twilight of their careers, and everyone’s been able to use EKA. It’s very user friendly, interactive. We could just look at the system and know where every driver and where every truck is.”