Posts by Mark Kovacic

September 2020 Newsletter

New Beginnings for Fall
…Except for the Trade Show Industry?

Fall is often time for new beginnings – kids go back to school, trade shows start firing again, and cooler weather brings a slew of new fashion trends. Except in 2020.

We have seen the collapse of the event and trade show industry, basically overnight as new CDC guidelines were put in place and state & local health officials shut down any gatherings larger than 50 people. So while we haven’t been able to gather at large scale events (or even small scale events), we’ve had some time to think about and learn how to put on a successful event in this new normal.

The Javits Center recently published their Guide to Reopening and outlined key protocols they have put in place. They note:

“The key to a safe return of the events industry [to New York] is strong communication and a shared collaborative approach among government, the travel and hospitality industry, trade associations representing various industries and the private sector.”

Here are some of the highlights:

  • COVID-19 response plan: a tailored plan for each individual event held
  • New layout and design of exhibits, including booths, social areas (food, drink, and coffee stations), education sessions, meeting rooms, and registration areas: to be approved by the convention center ahead of time
  • Attendance controls: requiring events to pre-register guests
  • Social distancing, mask requirements, and temperature checks for everyone
  • Sanitizing stations, both indoor and outdoor
  • Increased cleaning and sanitization of high-traffic touch points
  • Increased air quality, air filtration and HVAC maintenance

[SOURCE: Javits Center]

While none of this may come as breaking news it is important this information be published. Some of these items have always taken place during an event, but it has been behind closed doors or tucked away in the fine print of a contract. We are now in a place where these measures MUST be taken in front of guests.

A recent GES study of event attendees found that most are willing to attend a live event in the future. According to the study, 88 percent of respondents are open to attending a live event in person, and 65 percent require some form of risk mitigation (masks, social distancing, etc.). This study found there are five key segments of attendees:

  • Won’t attend: those that are highly concerned about the health risks and don’t believe the risk mitigation goes far enough
  • Might attend: those that are concerned about the health risk but would be open to attending if it presented a high enough value
  • Moderately concerned: those that are moderately concerned but expressed a willingness to follow personal restrictions, but are against limited meeting times
  • Mildly concerned: those that are only mildly concerned about the health risks, and support structural changes to promote safety
  • Not worried at all: very little concern about the health risks and ready to get back to the way things were

[SOURCE: GES] and [SOURCE: TSNN]

Some of this data certainly comes as a surprise, but for the most part is extremely helpful. As we see more shows cancelling or going virtual for the Fall and into Winter 2020, it’s great to know that a future with live events will come to fruition as convention centers and event halls enact new policies and procedures to ensure the safety of all guests and staff!

Superhero September!

2020 has been a rough year, to say the least, so we’ve dubbed this month Superhero September to prove it’s not all bad! Today, we’re featuring our “Batman”, Mark Kovacic! Mark is our Sales Operations Manager but his work goes much deeper than that. Mark runs our warehouse (managing customer assets, handling exhibit inspections and repairs as necessary), manages our TSA Compliance and Certificates of Insurance for all customers, maintains the company website, AND handles all of his client’s needs! Is there anything he can’t do?!  Cheers to our Batman!!

Check out our blog!

Our latest post, Common Carrier vs. Freight Forwarder, is live on our site! We explore the differences between a common carrier and a freight forwarder and when you should use each. Read all about it here:

https://www.usexpressfreight.com/common-carrier-vs-freight-forwarder/

 

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August 2020 Newsletter

Trucking & Hurricanes:
A Love/Hate Relationship

Natural disasters always have a negative impact on the supply chain, but how exactly does a hurricane impact the trucking industry?

The first effect we see is a shift in demand for trucks. Demand shifts in two phases: before the storm, and after.

Before the storm, we see an uptick in outbound trucking. Essential equipment, products and materials are sent out of the storm’s path. Trucks that are currently in transit in or near the storm’s path are re-routed out of harm’s way. And, everything else is locked down in place to ride it out.

After the storm, we experience a trucking shortage as we see a rise in inbound trucking and damages are assessed. Essential relief goods and personnel are brought in to aid in recovery. And, once it is deemed safe to do so, the equipment, products and materials that were sent out can be brought back in. Unfortunately, hurricanes can cause significant damage to property and infrastructure, and the trucking industry is not immune to that.

Secondly, we can expect service interruptions.

Once the hurricane is over and communities are left to deal with its aftermath, we can expect a severe disruption of service. As homes and businesses are ravaged by wind and rain, their focus is going to be the clean-up effort. Typically, these communities become difficult to access and work can be hard to come by as business comes to a halt.

Finally, we can expect an uptick in transportation costs.

Through a combination of trucking shortages and service disruptions, we’ll see an uptick in cost. Trucks are harder to come by and communities are inaccessible, but business operations are back up and running. This will lead to an increase in demand and push prices upward.

US Express virtually attended Together Again Expo!

The Together Again Expo was a hybrid event that took place on Friday, July 24th in Orlando, FL. The event featured a combination of in-person booths, panel discussions and presentations and a live video feed from the show floor. It was hosted by Alliance Nationwide Exposition in conjunction with the Orange County Convention Center.

The Together Again Expo was actually the second event held at the OCCC since the phased re-opening process began. The first was a volleyball tournament that hosted nearly 12,000 players, coaches and chaperones. According to the Mayor of Orlando, no cases of the coronavirus were reported as a result of the tournament.

The OCCC is one of the largest venues in the country to receive the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) Star accreditation on outbreak prevention, response and recovery. GBAC STAR™ is an industry accreditation that provides third-party validation to ensure the implementation of rigorous protocols in response to biorisk situations. Focused on ensuring a clean, safe and healthy environment, the program establishes requirements to assist venues by providing best practices, protocols and procedures to control risks associated with the COVID-19 virus (Source).

The event featured interviews, panel discussions and presentations from some of the leaders of the event industry including The Expo Group, Sunbelt Rentals and the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE). The show floor featured one-way aisles and booths that were spaced farther apart. Attendees and exhibitors were encouraged to wear masks and socially distance as much as possible.

As a virtual attendee, it was interesting to see an in-person event take place. Seeing the industry pivot and adapt to this “new normal” was intriguing and watching exhibitors and attendees latch onto new policies and procedures was a bright spot. As mentioned previously in our June e-newsletter, the return of in-person events is exciting and daunting but the Together Again Expo proved that in-person events can return and can be done safely!

Check out our blog!

Our latest post, Actual Weight vs. Dimensional Weight: Why Does it Matter?, is live on our website! It explains the different between actual weight and dimensional weight and why you should know about it.

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July 2020 Newsletter

Show updates for Fall 2020 & beyond

Fall is a busy time for tradeshows and events. But with the global pandemic bringing the event and tradeshow industry to a screeching halt, event planners are cautiously optimistic they’ll be able to hold their in-person events later this year.

As states’ economies are beginning to open back up, we’ve seen a number of events be rescheduled to later this year. However, with some states closing their economies back down and corporate ‘no travel’ policies put in place, we’ve seen several events get cancelled or go completely digital. Here are some of the more interesting updates we’ve found:

  • RSNA (Radiological Society of North America) Annual Meeting scheduled for November 29 – December 3 in Chicago, IL is now virtual
  • MJBizCon scheduled for December 2-4 in Las Vegas, NV is still on as planned
  • DoDIIS Worldwide scheduled for August 2020 has been rescheduled to March 2021
  • ACS (American Chemical Society) Fall Conference scheduled for August 16-20 in San Francisco, CA is now virtual
  • Healthcare Design Expo scheduled for November 7-10 in Nashville, TN is still on as planned
  • LabelExpo Americas, co-located with Brand Print Americas, scheduled for September 15-17 in Rosemont, IL has been cancelled

While it is still too early to know for sure if in-person events will go on as planned later this Fall and Winter, the prospect of attending live events is certainly exciting!

Downsizing?

As companies were forced to close their offices due to COVID, many are now realizing their staff can work remote and want to work remote more often.

What is your company offering? Answer here!

If you’re a company that is pursuing a full-time work from home plan, even after restrictions are lifted, the next decision is: what do you do with all that office stuff?

US Express has you covered 😉 Our climate-controlled warehouse has plenty of storage space and we provide 24-hour surveillance, limited access and our trucks are available whenever you need something moved!

Important updates from US Express

COVID. We’ve updated our COVID-19 response. Read our full statement and check out our new policy here: https://www.usexpressfreight.com/covid-19-response/

Follow US Express on social media! If you haven’t noticed, we’ve given our pages a fresh makeover and are actively sharing fresh content daily!! Be sure to follow us for more than just shipping updates!

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June 2020 Newsletter

The return of in-person events:
Prepare your booth and your staff

Attending an in-person event can be both daunting and exciting, despite the pandemic. You’ll get to see colleagues you haven’t seen since last year, and there’s the opportunity to create new connections with attendees and other exhibitors. But, how do you ensure your and your staff’s safety?

As we know, social distancing can have a profound impact on the spread of germs. As can the use of face masks or coverings, frequent hand washing, and avoiding touching your face. So, how do you implement all of this in a 10×10 booth space?

First, set your booth up in a manner that creates a one-way traffic flow. This will prevent attendees, your staff, and anyone else that visits your booth from bumping into each other.

Second, create a barrier between your staff and visitors that will allow them to converse, but respect each other’s social distance. Such as a table with product models or pamphlets, or simply tape on the floor indicating where to stand and wait.

Third, if possible, offer hand sanitizer to anyone that visits your booth. Ask that they use hand sanitizer before taking any pamphlets, brochures or swag that are laid out on the table in front of them.

It’s undeniable that this pandemic will have a profound impact on the way that in-person events are handled. We are all eager to get back to “normal” but it is still extremely important that we all do our part to help stop the spread of the virus.

Committed to doing our part

Like most businesses, US Express had to pivot and refocus its efforts after the coronavirus pandemic shut down the nation. After the event and tradeshow industry collapsed in early March, we were forced to find other opportunities to flex our white-glove muscles. That’s when we were asked to ship some much needed PPE, including face masks and hand sanitizer, across the country.

US Express has been open, and is still open, throughout this pandemic. If any business in the DMV needs to get materials to hospitals, testing sites, or any other facility in need, we have a fleet of local trucks at the ready.

 

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Q&A with Mark K

What is involved in working with an Indirect Air Carrier vs a company who is not TSA regulated? What are the advantages of working with an Indirect Air Carrier?

An Indirect Air Carrier is a designation granted by TSA to entities that have successfully passed rigorous training and testing and are able to work directly with airlines to tender freight.

The biggest advantage to being an Indirect Air Carrier is that we can utilize the extensive passenger aircraft network to move freight.

Being an Indirect Air Carrier is no easy task. A customer must be known in the TSA’s Known Shipper Management System before we can ship their items via passenger aircraft. And every pickup and delivery agent and their drivers must be accounted for and checked against a TSA database prior to the tendering of any freight to passenger aircraft. This is just part of the extensive security measures taken prior to moving freight this way.

 

What was one of the most interesting jobs, or projects, you’ve done for our local hospitals? Tell us about it!

We receive and store a lot of equipment for some of our local hospitals. One of the more rewarding requests we had was for our warehouse team to travel to one of the hospitals and install non-medical equipment in new OR rooms. Our team was able to help the construction and medical device teams get the OR rooms ready more quickly by stepping in and handling part of the installation.

The most satisfying job we do is moving stem cells all over the country for one hospital!

 

What was the most difficult jobs, or projects, you’ve done for a client in our warehouse? Tell us about it!

A few years back, a client was constructing a 12-story building in downtown Washington, DC. The construction was very much behind schedule and material was about to start arriving, but the client had no storage capabilities downtown. We were asked to store the windows that would eventually be installed and to expect one or two ocean containers a week of windows to arrive at our warehouse.

Before we knew it, we had two containers per day for three weeks straight of 12-foot long windows that were roughly palletized. At this point, there was no delivery date to the jobsite in sight. The warehouse was so stuffed with window pallets that you could hardly walk between them.

Fast forward six months later, they are finally ready for the windows. The difficult part was that they needed certain windows on certain days, and they could be buried anywhere in the slew of pallets. When it was time to ship the windows to downtown DC, we had to load the 12-foot pallet side by side on flatbed trucks. We only had inches to spare for the forklift on either side of the pallets.

 

About Mark! Mark is our Sales Operations Manager by title, but his work goes much deeper than that! Mark has been with US Express for 12 years and there’s nothing he isn’t involved in.

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Common Carrier vs. Freight Forwarder

A Common Carrier is a person or company that transports goods on regular routes at set rates. A Freight Forwarder is a person or company that organizes shipments for individuals or corporations to get goods from origin to destination; forwarders typically contract with a carrier to move the goods.

Common Carriers typically use a Hub-and-Spoke model to transport goods from origin to destination. A Hub is a city, and a Spoke is the route from city to city (or, Hub to Hub). At the Hub, goods are offloaded from one truck, and loaded onto another truck until the goods reach their final destination.

This model can be more cost effective because it is best suited for high volume, low weight freight (i.e. small packages). Because the Common Carrier uses established routes at established rates, they are able to move goods from city to city at a lower rate.

However, the Hub-and-Spoke model is known for increasing touchpoints (the amount of times goods are handled). Increasing touchpoints leads to an increased risk for damage to occur, and makes it more challenging to pinpoint service failures that lead to damage or lost freight. Additionally, the Hub-and-Spoke model limits customizable service options for clients.

Freight Forwarders typically use a Line Haul approach to transport goods from origin to destination. A Line Haul approach looks like this:

  1. Goods are picked up by a contracted carrier (selected by the Freight Forwarder) and delivered to the closest Line Haul Agent.
  2. The Line Haul Agent transports the goods from origin to the final destination city.
  3. The goods are picked up from the Line Haul Agent by a second contracted carrier (selected by the Freight Forwarder) and delivered to their final destination.

The Line Haul approach offers more direct service that is highly customizable. Freight Forwarders are able to offer customer service options to fit individual client needs, such as inside pickups and deliveries, liftgates, air-ride trucks, pallets, and more. They can also utilize multiple modes of transport to further customize their service, including rail, ocean, air and ground.

This approach has noticeably fewer touchpoints than the Hub-and Spoke model. This leads to increased transparency during transit, the ability to provide more accurate tracking information and better pinpoint service failures, delays and damage to freight.

To wrap this all together, it’s important to know WHAT you’re shipping so you can decide HOW to ship it. You don’t need a Freight Forwarder to ship an envelope, and you don’t need a Common Carrier to ship an industrial microscope. Making an informed decision will ensure your goods arrive safely and on time!

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Distribution vs. Trade Show Shipping: Are They the Same?

Shipping is shipping is shipping, right? Nope! When it comes to distribution shipping and trade show shipping, there are some key differences. 

 

Distribution is defined as “the act of sharing something out among a number of recipients.” Looking at this definition through the lens of a shipping company, we can infer that the same item will be sent to multiple destinations and that there will be no return shipment.  

 

We can also expect distribution shipping to be carried out over time, whether it be a short burst of information packets sent out or a continuous dissemination of information or goodies. Lastly, we can expect there to be an element of packing involved, usually according to a certain standard.  

 

As is typical with distribution shipping, marketing managers prefer recipients to receive a package that is packed methodically and is visually pleasing. By packing methodically, we can ensure the safety of the contents during transit and we can pack the box/case in a manner that makes logistical sense – such as needing the item on top first, and the item on bottom last.  

 

Trade show shipping involves sending multiple items to one destination, either an advance warehouse or show site venue, in one consolidated shipment. We can expect a return shipment after the event has ended. 

 

With trade show shipping, we can usually expect there to be a series of events that the same items will need to be shipped to. And, we can expect there to be little to no packing required of the shipping company.  

 

Trade show materials are typically packed in a manner that ensures their safety, minimizes internal damage and leaves room for small extras (cords, pens, business cards, etc.). This packing is first done by the booth manufacturer and is maintained by the exhibiting company or their labor team.  

There are so many different types of shipping and they all have their nuances, thankfully US Express is here to help you determine your needs and provide workable solutions! 

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What to Look for in a Logistics Partner

Choosing the right Logistics Partner to meet your needs can be overwhelming. Here are a few things to consider when searching for the best partner.

 

First, geography. Not every shipping company has the capability to ship to or from anywhere in the world so it’s important to make sure that the company you choose can at least meet your basic needs. Look at your most recent shipments, where did you pick up from and deliver to? Do you ship to the same location(s) or a new destination every time? Look at your expansion plans. Where do you plan to develop new business? Can your new Logistics Partner meet these requirements?

 

Second, services offered. The range of services offered by your Logistics Partner should allow you to completely customize your shipping experience. Not every shipment will be a standard ground, dock to dock shipment as much as we wish it could be so offering a wide variety of additional services is key to providing a great experience. Some offerings should include liftgate trucks, inside pickups and deliveries, multi-modal transport (including air, ground, ocean, rail, less-than truckload, full-truckload), palletizing and wrapping, and various other shipping accessories (including bars, straps, blankets, and pallet jacks). Being able to accommodate any type of request is what separates a partner from a vendor.

 

Third, flexibility. Continuing the conversation from our last point, your next Logistics Partner should be quite flexible. Being able to accommodate requests as they come up regardless of when they come up can make or break any shipment. Whether it’s the day before a pickup, while in transit, or day of delivery, being able to make your request a reality shouldn’t be an issue.

 

Fourth (and probably the most obvious), pricing. It’s true when they say “you get what you pay for” even when looking for your next Logistics Partner. A shipping company will send you a bill for the services rendered regardless of whether or not you needed or wanted them. A Logistics Partner will work with you to determine exactly what you need and how to go about it. And, when issues arise, they can help you avoid unexpected costs that could result in shipping delays.

 

Last, but not least, customer service and communication. While this needs no explanation, it’s still important to highlight. Look for a Logistics Partner that has the same philosophy on customer service and communication as you do. Your Logistics Partner should be an extension of your team, not a separate department.

 

Your business is your business, so your Logistics Partner is there to support your goals, not hinder them. Finding the right Logistics Partner can be challenging and time-consuming but will always be worth it in the long run.

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Actual Weight vs. Dimensional Weight: Why Does it Matter?

Actual weight is exactly what the shipment weighs, it includes the product and all packaging. Dimensional weight refers to the amount of space your shipment takes up on a truck. Dimensional weight, or DIM weight, is calculated by multiplying the length, width, and height of your shipment, and dividing the total by the dimensional factor.
The dimensional factor is typically different for domestic and international shipments. However, the basic rule of thumb is a dimensional factor of 139 for domestic, and 166 for international.
Space on a truck is limited so dimensional weight is an industry-wide pricing practice used to establish a minimum charge for cubic space occupied by a package. As such, a lightweight/low density shipment becomes unprofitable for shipping companies due to the amount of space the shipment takes up in proportion to its weight.
Because the price of your shipment will be determined by whichever is greater: the actual weight of your shipment, or the dimensional weight of your shipment. This becomes your Billable Weight.
So, why does dimensional weight matter? Dimensional weight rewards those who pack their shipments efficiently. For example, if you have a large box of feathers, you are more likely to be charged for the dimensional weight. The size of the shipment will be greater than the weight of the shipment.
It’s important to be aware that dimensional weight exists and that you can be charged for a shipment based on that rate. But don’t worry, your US Express Logistics Consultant can help you calculate your rate and determine the best way to ship your goods!
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Q&A with Christine

Q&A with Christine!

 

Logistics is a key component to many companies’ success and bottom line. US Express has 40 years of freight forwarding experience assisting our client’s transport-sensitive equipment, machinery, products, exhibit materials, and most recently, PPE.

 

What advice would you give logistics professionals?

Develop an understanding of your client’s needs and what is important to them. Competitive pricing tends to be the assumption of most logistics professionals however, this assumption would be a mistake. Many companies place a higher priority on reliability and customer service. They find value in peace of mind knowing they can trust their logistics partner that their shipments will be delivered on time and in good condition. I find communication is also an important component to logistics. Tracking information and accessibility for any questions speaks volumes to our clients. Our standard operating procedure is to keep our client’s needs as our top priority and continually provide the best solution to meet the needs of each individual client.

 

What are some common problems you hear businesses encounter with deliveries?

The Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) distribution environment exerts unique forces on freight, which results in various points along the supply chain that could cause damage to equipment. The Hub and Spoke approach often account for a pallet that can be touched 4, 5, 6 or perhaps additional times before reaching its final delivery destination. US Express utilizes a city-to-city Line Haul approach, we have a local team pick up the shipment, they then transfer it to the line haul carrier that is selected. The line haul carrier transports the shipment directly to the destination city. Once the shipment has arrived in the destination city our local team recovers the freight, and final delivery is made limiting the touchpoints to a total of three. Every new touchpoint creates a potential for damages to occur, our approach limits the potential for damage.

 

What insight can you provide about international shipments? 

Many businesses find international shipments challenging as requirements vary and language can certainly factor into the process and create additional hurdles. Gathering all the information about your shipment contents and value will help the shipper manage the process. Generating a commercial invoice is a good place to start. This itemization along with associated costs will be needed to clear customs and determine duties and taxes. What are the terms of the sale or is this a round trip shipment? The country of origin for the contents along with tariff codes will be needed. Documents and requirements vary by country so having a knowledgeable Logistics Consultant can make this seemingly complicated process much easier.

 

What do you want your clients to know about your process? 

I would share with them that US Express puts our clients’ needs first! We are strategic with how we schedule shipments to ensure we utilize the most cost-effective approach, keeping our service at the forefront of every shipment. Our team monitors shipments in transit to ensure the proper milestones are met throughout the process, ensuring transit remains on target for on-time delivery. A key component in our process is communication and accessibility. Our Logistics Consultants take pride in how accessible they are to their clients. Clients are able to communicate with their Consultant and our Operations team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Continuously striving to meet our clients’ needs while delivering superior customer service is how we have maintained our long-term client relationships.

 

 About the Author: Christine Hackelberg is a Logistics Consultant that has been with US Express for over three years! Her daily focus is to be a valued partner to her clients, not just a shipping vendor.

 

 

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