People Who Move the World: Air & Surface Logistics
By building strong personal relationships with their customers, Air & Surface have experienced thirty years of success in the logistics industry. Now they are poised to take their next big step.
In an industry that operates on a global scale, Air & Surface Logistics knows that it’s the details that matter. While technology is integral to the success of its business, a commitment to personalized human touch lies at the heart of what it does.
Founded as a messenger company in 1984, Air & Surface grew to become a freight forwarding operation with five offices and nearly 100 employees around the United States. But, recognizing the opportunities enabled by rapidly advancing technology, President Paige Cotcamp and his father, who founded the business, spun off their messenger arm and began to focus on doing more with less.
“We decided on a non-asset based model, which was really smart for us, worked really well,” he says. “It allowed us to scale back, really focus on our business and eliminate a lot of risk.”
Despite only having eight full-time employees, Air & Surface Logistics is no small fry. With a worldwide network spanning 150 countries and 800 agent partners, the secret to its success has been combining the personal touch of a local family-run company with the global reach and efficiency of a massive multinational organization.
“When people come to visit us, they are always surprised at the size of the operation. They are expecting us to be much larger because it has that feel,” Cotcamp says.
“You’re not routed through an elaborate voicemail maze [when you call]. In many cases, our customers are on a first-name basis with the customer service people. That’s something that people really appreciate and want in this day and age. That’s why they come back.”
Making a small company feel like a much larger one requires the right attitude and the right technology. Cotcamp spent months researching software platforms before deciding on CargoWise One.
“I’m an IT guy, but everybody here could see what an impediment to growth our old system had become. We were looking for a cloud-based solution that could scale up down the road. We’ve been on CargoWise One for a year and a half now and it’s worked out really well for us.”
In a small operation, you can always talk to each other to quickly solve problems. But to be efficient as you grow, you need your technology to be able to do the same.
“The system we were on before did not tie into the accounting systems,” says Accounting Manager Julie Gray. “Things could be missed or slip by. We would catch something that we didn’t bill properly for and we had to go back.”
“Nothing gets by us now because there are always checks and balances in place to make sure the costs are correct.”
Jay Rondeau from the sales team agrees. He says the complete integration of CargoWise One allows him to get stuff done and respond to problems quicker than other systems he has used in the past. “Larger organizations can be dysfunctional. Here it’s pretty much set, we can work quickly to turn on a dime if we have to.”
Rondeau has been working with the system for less than a month but says it’s been eye-opening. “To be honest, it blows me away. A Fortune 500 company can easily use the software for all aspects of their shipping, right down to us. It’s a toolbox, completely full of all the tools you’ll ever need.”
Taking the Next Step
As the President, Cotcamp has his eyes firmly on the growth of the business. “[CargoWise One] will allow us to take the business to the next level,” he says. “We can tap an agent in from Orlando as easily as we can tap an agent in from Los Angeles. It makes it really easy to ramp up.”
Like his staff, Cotcamp takes everything in the business personally. “I come from a big business background,” he says. “Having been on both sides of the fence, I wouldn’t trade the small business aspect of it for anything in the world. I enjoy being on the front line and being able to interface with clients. Here you get to see a real live impact in real time every day. It’s a blast.”
Although the business has changed a lot in the past thirty years, a consistent commitment to personalized customer service has remained the backbone to Air & Surface Logistics’ success. And that’s one thing that will never change.