“Where was I? – looking ahead. What has me writing this? – looking behind.” Also a little looking forward still!
As we reflect on IDS’s 2012, a few (or more) main themes are apparent:
1. It was a roller coaster of a year: We had some very strong months and months where sales were well below expectations. That pattern was a reflection of national retail sales in general. One month the news is doom and gloom and lack of business activity. The next month we make up for it and then some. While we have always prided ourselves in our ability to handle the peaks and valleys of our business and that of our many clients, this year certainly pushed that capability. We will continue to strengthen our ability to flex to the known, and unforeseen, needs of our clients. (Capable, FLEXIBLE, Process Driven)
2.. We passed the test: This annual exam determines if we have sufficiently prepared and anticipated the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend and the following 10 days or so. This was generally a very successful period for us this year, again, with a couple of programs edging (barely) outside our quality standards during the peak of stress while we also achieved some new and dramatic record shipping records for several accounts while hitting all performance standards. (CAPABLE, Flexible, Process Driven)
3. Success rewarded: We saw continued renewals from existing clients and increased pace of new clients choosing our programs. This was partially offset by some clients either going out of business or withdrawing from markets we served for them. That’s part of the “roller coaster” theme above.
4. Parcel Freight Success: IDS and UPS worked together to provide our participating clients with a continued strong parcel freight discount program. We anticipate even more clients joining the program in 2013. The parcel cost issue will continue to grow in importance for us and our clients as additional options start to hit the market. We will have a new LightWeight Parcel Program rolling out in January that will provide a new and unique opportunity for clients to delivery their lighter packages at lower costs and faster service times then the current traditional offerings. (more below)
5. Go Green! IDS, and by extension our clients, made significant progress in our Green Initiatives in 2011; new lighting has reduced our energy needs, continued focus on using recycled materials and recycling the waste product stream from our operations, changes in cleaning products and even our “de-icing” products (being used as we write, unfortunately).
6. Go Green 2: Our intermodal transportation efforts continue to step up and others within the industry have taken notice. Our team was responsible for 7.1 million miles of intermodal moves, the majority with clients that we help convert to intermodal, that replaced conventional truck traffic saving an estimated 850,000 gallons of fuel and eliminating 6,100 tons of carbon emissions.
7. Intermodal Growth: This year we strengthened our relationship with the Union Pacific and were rewarded by the UP with unique co-branding opportunities.
8. In the News! In conjunction with the Journal of Commerce, we’ve established a method to index the intermodal spot rate market and report stats, analysis and commentary on a weekly basis. We have our own published index!
9. Full Service Transportation Management: IDS is implementing a new, full service Transportation Management program with a new client. This program is another unique solution for transportation management developed by IDS Transportation. We’ll be using this first step as a springboard to help others find out how this service, coupled with our technology, will benefit them in cost saving and capacity alternatives in the ever changing transportation market.
10. We passed another test: Of course, this one we have to pass, but we continue to score very high marks from AIB for our FDA GMP program. In addition, we had client quality audits that we also passed with very high scores, including audits that peered deeper into HR, Disaster Recovery, and Recycling programs. This is reflected in our new company tag line: Capable, Flexible, PROCESS DRIVEN.
11. Exports: We are seeing more parcel exports and more destinations. We will be offering an additional option for Canadian parcel shipments early next year. It’s very PC.
12. Teamwork: Even as IDS Transportation continues to grow their unique client base and our domestic intermodal business (along with LTL and Truckload), we see continued growth in our order fulfillment client base utilizing our transportation services. We continue to improve the offerings, the costs, and the internal teamwork to make this a highly valued service by more and more of our customers.
13. Health care cost issues and uncertainty: More than in the past we are seeing significant health care/insurance cost pressure and we expect this to worsen as more of the ACA provisions start. We are tracking this very closely but at some point the ACA will bring sweeping changes to our industry. It’s scheduled to do so January 1, 2014, but that train may not be running on time. Expect to see updates from us in 2013 on this issue.
14. Another great year for a team we grow to appreciate more and more each year: Great safety results in 2012 from a group that continues to go above and beyond for clients and apply the experience that helps differentiate us.
Looking forward to 2013?
1. Parcel options: We will be expanding our Parcel Discount program to include new and unique options for lightweight parcels (below 1lb. and 1lb to 5lbs.) as well as offering new and better Canadian options. We are determined to be at the forefront of parcel delivery options and we are really excited about the announcements we will have in January for our clients on this topic.
2. Growth: We believe our existing clients will continue to grow next year, we have several new clients that will be with us for a full year (some of whom have the opportunity for dramatic growth), we have several new accounts starting up in the first quarter, and we have many other opportunities we are continuing to work on. We believe that 2013 will be a good year for growth and we will grow in a fashion that strengthens our abilities for all clients.
3. Participation: Our staff is already scheduled for more speaking engagements and panel discussions than last year and with likely more to come, more trade show activity, IDS Transportation’s Intermodal Index is now being carried by the Journal of Commerce, continued leadership roles in key industry and lobbying groups.
4. METRICS, METRICS, METRICS: We have finished the beta-testing and will roll out internally our new metrics program. Monitors are being installed and we will soon be pushing weekly and daily metrics to our work floor, office common areas, and break rooms. We expect to start pushing customer specific metrics to clients automatically later in 2013.
5. IDS Transportation will be formally split into a separate company reflecting this unit’s growth, opportunities and regulatory changes. This move will have no impact with current relationships (inside IDS or with clients) and will significantly aid this team in their overall growth.
6. AND… We have other efforts and opportunities that will likely come to fruition in 2013 that will continue our efforts to build the premier order fulfillment solution for clients in our target customer profile.
To our customers, their customers, our vendors, and network of supporters: Thanks for helping make 2012 a success for us as we hope our efforts helped make a material and positive difference in your year.