A New Force in International Logistics
A young startup with phenomenal growth potential, Steam Logistics stands ready to surprise its worldwide spectators.
Startup companies in the logistics industry face a set of unique challenges that often prevent steady growth, if they’re lucky enough to even get off the ground in the first place. Steam Logistics, however, has passed these initial hurdles and is now gaining upward momentum.
Since its founding in November of 2012, the company has demonstrated that investing the time to set up operations the ‘right’ way is the key to startup success.
Started by an investor group with a history of successful logistics startups, Steam faced the same challenges as any other international freight forwarder. For Steam, taking the time to set up operational and business requirements was part of their strategy for success. “As a startup, we were faced with growing our business organically,” says Brad Kemp, Chief Operating Officer for Steam Logistics. “We needed the personnel, the technology platform, the customer base, and the vendor relationships. In this industry, licensing is also a complex requirement. We invested twelve months of preparation, taking care of licensing requirements for the Federal Maritime Commission, Customs House Brokerage, IATA, and other industry entities.”
Since officially launching in October of 2013, Steam Logistics has seen rapid expansion and solid growth. The company’s success as a compliance specialist is proof that they are well on track to becoming one of the big guys in the freight forwarding business, despite the challenges many similar companies face in the current market. “The industry is highly regulated, so having a keen understanding of regulations and complex compliance requirements is crucial for growing our business. We work hand in hand with Homeland Security, and all the major vendors that are providing opportunities for security,” Kemp says.
“We don’t look at growth in terms of year over year or cycle over cycle. Our business cycle tends to be month over month. Since October, we’ve gone from just a couple of employees to twenty, everyone fully committed to the business.”
This commitment and dedication carries over to Steam’s approach to its customers. Kemp explains that one of Steam’s defining aspects is its willingness to help its customers grow alongside them. “There are a large group of customers out there that want to do international business, or are doing international business but are still trying to understand where responsibilities begin and end. Who’s responsible for customs clearance, for terminal charges, for paying carriers? This business is very much about being a consultant to those small to medium sized customers.”
For Kemp and Steam Logistics, helping customers to grow requires giving them total visibility and transparency to every movement of a shipment at all times. “In today’s fast paced world, being able to check the status or location of your freight online, or being able to get reports that give you that kind of visibility, is very important to your customer base.” In the spirit of being prepared for growth, Steam searched for a technology solution that “would be more than ‘just okay’ for our needs now, with the flexibility to grow with the business,” says Kemp. “We didn’t find anything that fit our model, until CargoWise One.”
“Even as a small company, we have been able to compete against the big guys from day one by using the carrier interfaces that give those historic, time-stamped updates. We’re able to provide the transparency that customers need, just like the largest global competitors can.” Fortunately for Steam, at the rate it’s growing, it won’t stay a small company for much longer. “As we open up more branches here and overseas, we can use this same platform with the branch, organizational, and foreign exchange functions. Everything about CargoWise One supports a scalable operation.”
Steam Logistics aims to be something significant, more than a regional player, more than a national player. “We want to be a global player in this business.” Kemp believes that the past year has been a clear indicator the company is positioned to grow into a large global organization. “Maybe we’re overambitious thinking we can be a billion-dollar enterprise in ten years, but we have very purposefully created an organizational structure and culture that is scalable for multi-branch operations in the US and overseas.”
Kemp advises those watching Steam to “stay tuned. In five years, it’s going to be an interesting story to tell about where Steam was then and where it is now.”