Exclusive interview with the Convoy CEO
On Day 2 of the Future of Supply Chain, Justin Martin, Back the Truck Up’s (or BTU) Digital Content Creator and I had the opportunity to interview Dan Lewis, Convoy’s Founder and CEO, for about 15 minutes. “The Digital Freight Network,” as Convoy’s website states, is gearing itself up for the coming flood of freight as soon as the supply cycle restarts. Lewis gave us an explanation of what Convoy offers its driver-partners, the company’s plans for capacity expansion, and his opinions on the situation at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
“If you treat your drivers with respect and pay them right, they’ll die on a hill for you.”Justin Martin – BTU Digital Content Creator
Drivers want 100% visibility, both on the road and on the paperwork
I asked Lewis about what Convoy offers the drivers that haul for the company. His response was simply, “You’re paid what you’re shown, and if you do not think that’s right, you have the option to bid on the load”. Convoy is committed to transparency and thank you sir, there’s never enough of that. Dan added “Convoy will also pay for your detention, even if the company is not reimbursed by the shipper/receiver”. If you follow the guidelines and use the app, Convoy has a quick-pay service that settles with you in 24 to 48 hours, without a convenience fee.
As we continued talking about the situation at the ports (something that seems to find a way to get worse every day), we asked him about how Convoy was preparing itself for the worst case scenario. If you look on a ship tracking service such as MarineTraffic, you’ll notice the pile of dots around China. Those are ships waiting to deliver, reload and head back out with fresh cargo. That means a non-stop deluge of freight for the ports.
Convoy has the throughput to keep drivers moving
According to Dan, “Convoy is very heavy in short-haul and tweener freight.” The company has built a universal trailer pool and is building relationships with freight forwarders and port trucking companies to establish itself as a preferred partner.” For those drivers who do not want to be paid piecemeal for each delivery, Convoy offers daily and weekly pay contracts. It makes for some very interesting math that any owner-operator must consider.
Convoy also offers a “Reloads” program to help drivers build a round-trip program. Convoy found that of those who used the product (approximately 75% of the company’s “virtual” fleet), only ran empty 19% of their miles after delivery. Those that did not use the program ran about 36% of their miles empty. That’s a big difference in revenue per mile. That’s also a lot of engine idle time, non-reimbursable fuel expenditure, and carbon footprint that gets reduced.
Lewis also discussed how Convoy started with many of its first loads running from manufacturers inbound to distribution centers. Now, many more are heading outbound toward the stores. Now the company even has dedicated routes that run straight to stores from the factory, or “hot off the press.” As relationships with freight forwarders grow, route further inland will be possible. I would not be surprised if a cross-country Convoy offering appears in the next few years.
We all agreed that the ports are a national security issue
We moved back to talking about the port situation. Like many other people, Lewis feels that U.S. ports are a very important national security issue. America has to have a constant influx of food, drugs, parts, and materials to continue to function. He told us about a tour he took of the Port of LA/Long Beach aboard the “Goodyear Blimp”. He saw “mountains of containers stacked” as far as he could see.
Finally, as our time closed, we talked about the service Convoy provides. The company’s virtual fleet is comprised almost exclusively of solo owner-operators and small fleets. Convoy provides service equal to or superior to larger enterprise fleets. Its employees also work with brokers outside the company to stitch together more headhaul and backhaul routes. Loyalty is a big thing for truckers. Convoy is doing its best to keep them busy, paid well for their time, and Lewis even reads the comments sections to make sure nothing is missed.
Justin and I enjoyed our time with Dan Lewis, and can’t wait to see him at Festival of Freight in Chattanooga this November, if not sooner!