Andrew Talandzevicius is managing partner at Brite Logistics, a midsize trucking and logistics firm specializing in food, packaging, paper products and electronics. Talandzevicius emigrated from Lithuania 20 years ago and learned the business working in dispatch and operations positions at logistics companies. He then teamed with his partner Larry Misiukevicius, also Lithuanian, to open the South Side enterprise in 2009. Th e-company has grown to 160 drivers, 30 support staff and 165 trucks. In a recent interview, Talandzevicius discussed some of the challenges in freight trucking.
CRAIN'S: What is your niche in the freight logistics world?
TALANDZEVICIUS: We're an asset-based carrier rather than a broker. We have the actual trucks, trailers and drivers. Most of the work is under contracts, but we fill the gaps through brokers, the spot market. We are interstate, but the majority of our shippers and receivers are here because we're headquartered here.
How have you been affected by the pandemic?
When it started in March/April, business almost completely stopped. Then things started to reopen after the first wave. It turned to the better, then got unexpectedly good. Business was supposed to slow down at the end of Illinois' second wave in July. That's a time when trucking typically slows. But there was so much on back order, the supply chain was trying to catch up. So trucking was better than expected for that time of the year.
What is the outlook?
Now it's still pretty decent, but no one has an idea what will happen three or four weeks from now because of the new surge (in COVID-19 cases) and unexpected closings. It depends on consumer appetites. If consumers stop buying, trucking feels it right away.
How do you look at the problem of traffic congestion?
It's hard for drivers to manage their hours because you don't know what to expect. You can breeze through the city or be stuck for four hours. Maybe the hours for shipping and receiving could be adjusted a little bit. It depends on the industry. Food companies handle shipping and receiving into the late evening or overnight. Packaging and paper products lean more heavily to day hours.
Wouldn't drivers prefer to work at night and avoid the congestion?
Some drivers love night hours and avoiding the traffic. But others don't like it because visibility is worse, especially in bad weather.
E-commerce has taken off during the pandemic, and there are more small trucks on residential streets. Does this affect you?
With consumers utilizing online platforms so much more, everything is shipped to AG亚洲国际游戏homes rather than stores. This last-mile delivery with small trucks is increasing significantly, and it will be worse in the next three to four weeks. We don't compete in the last mile—you can't put an 18-wheeler in the middle of Lincoln Park. There's more variety of trucks on the road. Plus, people's expectations are changing. We used to wait three, four or five days for delivery. Now we're impatient to wait for two hours. That means additional trucks on the road.
It affects you indirectly?
It does in that e-commerce uses a lot more packaging, so we're carrying more of those products. In e-commerce, products end up taking more space for final delivery. If you open an Amazon box, it could be that 80 percent of the box is empty. You order a toothbrush, it comes in a 3-gallon box. The boxes are bigger than the products inside, so that takes up more on the delivery trucks.
Couldn't companies package e-commerce shipments more efficiently to save space?
They're probably working on it, but it's easier said than done.
One of the biggest problems, but one that the general public doesn't see, is parking.
This is the No. 1 issue for truckers around Chicago these days. There are very few places for drivers to rest or take their overnight break. You can almost count on your fingers the number of truck stops in the metro area. The truck plazas are full and trucks are parked on the shoulders.
What are possible solutions? There's talk of an app like SpotHero that matches drivers with available spaces.
Technology can be used way more than it is right now. It's up and coming. The TA and Petro brands have an app where you can reserve spaces in advance, but it's with their own network. There's nothing that I know that would include all locations, like SpotHero. That's a huge project. Technology alone won't solve the problem. You need more parking spaces no matter what.
What do drivers do in the meantime?
Around Chicago we work with customers, ask if we can park on their property. Is there a corner where the truck can wait for the load or unloading time? Maybe even take their 10-hour break? Once you get out of metro Chicago, everything is more open. But other metro areas have the same problem.