This year, BlueGrace Logistics held their National Conference at the beautiful SandPearl resort in Clearwater Beach, FL. To no surprise, the conference was jam packed with fantastic speakers including Don Hutson, Alex Sheen and Brian Holloway. Everyone enjoyed learning experiences, lunches and a reception back at headquarters. This was BlueGrace’s 7th installment and biggest conference yet with over 250 people in attendance. Everyone joined together Sunday night on the Gulf Lawn at the SandPearl resort for a welcome mixer down by the beach. Cocktails and appetizers were served while the festivities began and BlueGrace kicked off the 2017 National Conference.
Monday | Day 1
Monday morning started with an official message from President and CEO of BlueGrace, Bobby Harris. After talking about the amazing venue and beautiful Clearwater, FL beaches, he discussed the current status of BlueGrace, it’s business and employees. It has been an exciting year at BlueGrace with the opening of our 11 Branch and Regional locations. 2017 brought the complete redesign of our Riverview, FL headquarters and many of the Branch locations across the US did the same. Data was shared with the team about what we accomplished in our Freight, Truckload and Enterprise departments and what effect future trends will have on us in 2018 and beyond. Bobby left the team with a new found excitement for the year to come and with new tools and data to help accomplish upcoming goals.
Featured Speaker| Day 1
Following Harris’ kickoff, motivational speaker Alex Sheen captured everyone’s attention with his presentation. Tears were shed and sighs were heard as Alex told the story of his because I said I would foundation. His foundation is an international social movement and nonprofit dedicated to the betterment of humanity through promises made and kept. Sparked by the loss of his father, Alex began sending promise cards to anyone who requested them at no cost. Since his father’s passing on September 4th, 2012, because I said I would has sent over 8.42M promise cards to over 150 countries. Alex’s commitment to the betterment of humanity has inspired millions around the world. The story of his promises have been shared virally throughout social media and international news.
The BlueGrace team left this presentation with a renewed vision to stick to your promises, whether it’s for a family member or a customer. The importance of your word can be the strongest tool you have to build lasting relationships and to help your fellow man. We want to thank Alex for his moving and poignant presentation and we will do what we can to put his vision into practice!
Featured Speaker| Day 1
After a short intermission, Don Hutson “The One Minute Negotiator” taught everyone about his successful career in speaking, management and sales. Don is a #1 salesperson in a national training organization, and has earned the “Master of Influence” Award, as well as “Philanthropist of the Year”.
Don spent 2 sessions, one for our general group and one specifically for the sales team. He discussed the importance of selling value to our customers. In an industry so focused on low pricing, both the customer and BlueGrace can lose sight of the more valuable items in a business relationship. Items such as service, response times and communication can increase the relationship to one built on loyalty, not just price. The BlueGrace staff went away with a solid set of tools to increase their interactions and understanding of their current and future customers.
Breakout Sessions| Day 1
As the first day continued, it was time for breakout sessions from select BlueGrace Leadership. Mark Ford, COO Transportation started with his analysis of the truckload and carrier marketplace. He discussed the massive growth of the Truckload division at BlueGrace during 2017 and what the future holds for the division. The data provided to the team gave a us a clear trajectory for the upcoming year and a clear understanding of where BlueGrace is positioned in the 3PL industry as a whole.
The next presentation was by Andy Burke, V.P. Strategic Ventures and Shawn Leonard, Expedite Team Lead about the importance of Expedited Freight in the coming year.The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate is going to put a serious squeeze on many supply chains with stricter hours of service regulations going into effect. While these are meant to increase the safety and wellbeing of the driver, many are concerned about the interruptions this mandate will cause to scheduled delivery times. Andy and Shawn discussed how BlueGrace has been serving customers with our access to a national fleet of non-dock high sprinter van, small/ large straight trucks with lift gates and pallet jacks for inside pick-ups and deliveries.
The final break out was with Jason Lockard, Sr. Vice President, Enterprise. The presentation discussed the continued success of our large client interactions and the services we provide to them. From our SAP and NetSuite integrations of our BlueShip platform to our Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), advanced business intelligence & continuous performance improvements, our enterprise team continues to help simplify the freight for our larger clients.
Featured Presenter| Day 1
Returning for his second year, featured presenter and CEO of YRC Worldwide, James Welch concluded the evening with a fantastic presentation about YRC Worldwide both past and future. As one of our valued carriers, James was able to give a very unique look into how YRC and BlueGrace as similar in many ways, especially when it comes to growth and employee retention.
Monday Night Festivities| 3PLTLC RECEPTION
After a full day of knowledge, it was time to unwind a little!
After a full day of knowledge, it was time to unwind a little! Transportation was provided and all were bussed back to headquarters for a BlueGrace style reception. Over 15 carriers set up tables, handing out swag to everyone and food was provided by DATZ catering. The menu consisted of a taco bar, the most amazing shrimp and grits, fried Mac N Cheese bites and an array of munchies.
“DATZ is always fantastic and a huge hit here at BlueGrace, we were excited to have them cater again!” said Selyna Goldklang, marketing assistant at BlueGrace.
More familiar faces joined the event this time around after a huge success at BG OPEN HOUSE. DJ Papi was back again to get the crowd pumped up and keep the party going.
“I have never had a cookie that tastes this good!”
Sarah Sweeney, Manager of Credit and Billing at BG and former pastry chef at Jackson’s and other local bakeries, wowed everyone again with her delicious sweet treats.
“I have never had a cookie that tastes this good!”, one guest raved as he bit into one of Sweeney’s famous blue crinkle cookie.
The entire reception was a huge hit and was a great end to the first day of the 2017 conference.
Tuesday | Day 2
After the Monday night reception, everyone was bussed back to the SandPearl resort to get a good night’s sleep and get ready for another day full of speakers and presenters.
Featured Presenters| Day 2 | Dave Ross
After the morning presentations, it was time for a returning presenter, Dave Ross, Managing Director of Global Transportation and Logistics at Stifel Nicolaus. As one of the top financial analysts in the logistics industry, David was picked #1 by the Wall Street Journal’s Best on the Street Analysts Survey in the industrial transportation industry. Ross was able to provide an industry updates on the status of the trucking and freight industry. As always , David Ross provided incredibly useful data for both our employees and their customers alike.
Featured Presenters| Day 2 |The Ritz Carlton Leadership Center
When you look to increase customer loyalty and develop new ways to support customers, the best way to do it is to follow the best. Anyone who has stayed at a Ritz-Carlton knows that customer service is not only how they fill hotel rooms, but it is taken so seriously that they are constantly rated number #1 amongst all hotel chains. The BlueGrace team was very fortunate to be able to listen and participate in an amazing presentation by the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center. In today’s increasingly competitive global market, consistently exceptional service and customer experience are what create and sustain brand loyalty. For nearly two decades, The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center has leveraged the systems and processes of the Ritz-Carlton brand to deliver award-winning services that have allowed thousands of clients to improve customer and employee engagement, innovate their culture and differentiate themselves. The team was able to take away new and exciting ways to increase customer happiness as well as employee enjoyment using the tactics provided by the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center.
Breakout Sessions| Day 2
For the second round of breakout session we focused on Customer Support and Human Resources. Michael Medlin, Vice President of Customer Support was first with his discussion of the BlueGrace customer and what they want from our support and sales staff. Using data collected during 2017 we were able to help breakdown what our customers want most from us and how to provide it to them. The presentation helped the whole team better understand why BlueGrace is different from other 3PLs and how to keep moving forward with listening posts for all types of customers.
The next Human Resources presentation was from Mercedes Essmann, Director of Corporate Recruiting and was targeted to interviewing and hiring skills. Mercedes discussed how hiring the right people and keeping them engaged is the most important job for all of leadership at BlueGrace. It was amazing how the BlueGrace hiring and employment standards mirrored the Ritz-Carlton methodologies. We found between the 2 presentations, we were certainly on a successful path for growth and employee happiness in 2018.
The final presentation was from Adam Blankenship, Chief Commercial Officer & Executive V.P. and was focused on how as a company and individuals we could simplify our work. As Core Value #2, Simplify, BlueGrace is familiar with looking for ways to simplify not only our work but how our customers approach their business as well. This valuable time brought us together in small collaborative groups to discuss and document items we will work towards in 2018.
Keynote Speaker| Day 2
Day 2’s keynote speaker was America’s #1 most requested motivational speaker, Brian Holloway. He is an international motivational speaker and renowned corporate trainer, mobilizing companies and organizations in search of peak productivity, helping them achieve new levels of excellence. He understands how to transform thinking within organizations and challenge the competitive spirit of diverse work teams. In 1995, as a forward-thinking expert in new digital technology, Holloway crafted the first online digital platform with ABC Sports, generating 3,000,000 views in the first 48 hours; an innovation that changed the sports marketing world forever. Brian used his platform to help motivate and excite the BlueGrace team. Through stories and past accomplishments in the NFL and business world, Brian delivered concepts that are easy to take back and utilize after the conference.
Tuesday Night Festivities| Gala Dinner
With conference being concluded, it was time for everyone to enjoy a nice dinner at the Island Way Grill, located down the road from the Sandpearl Resort. BlueGrace’s employees and guests all enjoyed local seafood and an island vibe while celebrating another successful year!
We would like to thank all of our carrier and vendor sponsors for their incredible participation in this years event. Below is a listing of the sponsors for the event and we look forward to working with all of you next year.