Cristina Commendatore | FleetOwner Magazine • March 22, 2021
In the earlier days of the industry — more specifically in 1980 when the Motor Carrier Act deregulated interstate trucking — freight brokers were essentially contract salespeople for commercial fleets. Today, however, the role of modern brokers has evolved.
Brokers now are not only intermediaries and the theoretical sales and marketing arm for carriers, but they also handle the more broad-based carrier management for shippers. And while all brokers are third-party logistics providers (3PLs), not all 3PLs do brokerage.
Many of the larger, integrated 3PLs might follow freight shipments and handle procurement all the way from ocean containers to final-mile delivery. They also handle carrier and shipper billing, warehousing, and carrier monitoring and management. Over the last few years, a great deal of emphasis for 3PLs and brokers has been put on building relationships with fleets and shippers. Ken Adamo, chief of analytics for DAT Solutions, which operates the largest truckload freight marketplace in North America, explained that 2018 was a year that brought these relationships into focus, as many relationships were put to the test
“A lot of the talk you hear now about broker transparency was the other way around [in the earlier days],” Adamo said. “It was essentially to make sure the brokers were getting paid the right amount because they didn’t necessarily see the whole transaction.
Mark Ford, chief operating officer of transportation for BlueGrace Logistics, one of the largest 3PLs in the U.S., has seen a lot evolve in the last 25 years he’s been in the industry.