Jeff Silver spoke Wednesday, April 20 in the Jacobs Center
APR 21, 2016 // ALEX GERAGE AND AMANDA MORRIS
When Jeff Silver entered the world of third-party logistics (3PL) in the 1980s, the industry suffered from a bad reputation.
“At the time, most people thought third-party logistics was less valuable than trucking companies,” he said. “I spent my career trying to prove them wrong.”
Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Silver worked to transform the 3PL industry with his company American Backhaulers, the second largest North American freight brokerage at the time. But he finally hit his career-long goal when he co-founded Coyote Logistics, one of the fastest growing 3PL service providers of all time. Silver shared how Coyote won customers by meeting their expectations at the 35th annual William A. Patterson Transportation Lecture.
Hosted by the Northwestern University Transportation Center, the lecture followed an industry workshop focused on biologics transportation. Silver’s talk, “No Excuses: Technology and Culture Meet a New Era of Expectation,” took place Wednesday, April 20 in the Donald P. Jacobs Center in Evanston.
In 2006 Silver left a PhD program in Northwestern Engineering’s Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences to start Coyote. He had left the 3PL industry six years earlier and found reentry intimidating. But he was pulled to build a company with a strong commitment to service. At the time, 3PL companies often committed to move loads for a shipper but only followed through 80 percent of the time.
We knew we had to do something different,” Silver said. “We had to get customers to stop seeing us as a broker and start seeing us as a real carrier. We decided to move every load that we were committed to.”
Coyote has since grown into a $2 billion company, which moves 6,000 loads per day. It has also received “Carrier of the Year” awards from multiple clients, including Coca-Cola. “Our customers are committed to us because we are committed to them,” Silver said.
Silver said Coyote’s commitment extends to its employees and discussed the importance of building a positive work environment. After being acquired by UPS last year, Coyote still maintains its office culture, where everyone’s ideas are heard and valued.
“Our growth was fueled by good ideas,” Silver said, “and the people we hired.”