Logistics On A Smoother Road

August 29, 2003
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JENISON — After managing the company through a rough beginning, executives at a four-year-old Jenison third-party logistics firm are seeing better times ahead.

Buoying their optimism is a recent large contract win and other strong business prospects, coupled with relocation in June to a new corporate office from quarters that Concentrek Inc. had outgrown.

John Patterson, Concentrek’s co-founder, president and chief executive officer, believes it’s “entirely possible” for the company to even grow to $150 million in freight under management by the end of 2003, up from $85 million at mid-year, through new clients and additional business from existing customers.

“It’s been very, very challenging and now it’s becoming rewarding,” Patterson said. “Given the fiery furnace we’ve been through, we feel pretty good about where we’re at.”

Patterson helped to found the company in 1999 with Michael McClelland and Greg Morello. The three logistics industry veterans worked together at Schneider Logistics Inc. in Green Bay, Wis., a large third-party logistics provider.

Slowed by the dot-com bust, Concentrek fell “a little behind” but is now nearly back on its original business plan, Patterson said. The company, he said, underestimated how long it would take to achieve critical mass for the business, a target that has now been reached and is helping to generate improved performance and operations.

“The last four years, it’s never been boring,” said Patterson, who previously served as CEO at Zeeland-based Total Logistic Control. “I think we’ve got that mass now, so consequently I think sales are going to accelerate”

Concentrek Inc. follows a business plan conceived by McClelland and Morello for a non-asset-based third-party logistics provider and consultant that utilizes the Internet to serve small and mid-sized shippers of $5 million to $50 million. A $15 million account is the typical client for Concentrek, Patterson said.

Consolidation within the industry was leaving a market opportunity for a logistics provider catering to smaller shippers, McClelland said.

“Greg and I saw that happening and said, ‘You know what, there’s a large underserved market out there,’” said McClelland, Concentrek’s vice president of operations.

Morello is the company’s vice president of marketing and technology strategy.

Together the two dreamed up the idea for the business “on a whim” while at Schneider Logistics, drafted a business plan and decided to run it by their then-former colleague, Patterson, who had moved on to Total Logistic Control. He urged them to pursue the idea “on a much larger scale,” McLelland said, leading them to re-write the plan.

The three started the company in May 1999 as KNGT Logistics with members of the family that own Knight Transportation, a large truckload carrier in Arizona whose CEO, Kevin Knight, Patterson knew through business connections. The company’s name was changed to Concentrek in January 2001.

The Knights provided most of the capital to start Concentrek, Patterson said.      

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