Changing automotive supply chains continue to request strategic help from logistics providers
Grace Sharkey, Reporter
Oct 26, 2021
Between customer demand for electric vehicles, chip shortages, and environmental, social and governance initiatives, the already complicated automotive supply chain has gone through a whirlwind of changes — changes likely to cost the industry north of $100 billion in revenue in 2021.
For third-party logistics provider BlueGrace Logistics, these generational changes to the automotive supply chain influenced the decision to open its 11th office last week in Detroit to serve as a “control tower” for its managed services operations.
Todd Trompeter, BlueGrace’s vice president of logistics operations, explained to FreightWaves that a number of the company’s preexisting managed logistics customers are in the Detroit area, helping service automakers and their manufacturing plants.
Our current customers have been extremely happy and just asking for more of our help as they’ve grown.
“We have seen incredible growth in managed services during the last 24 months,” said Trompeter. “Our current customers have been extremely happy and just asking for more of our help as they’ve grown. We have really great relationships with carriers in the Detroit area, and that has given us the ability to provide some very unique solutions for clients.”
While BlueGrace does offer an array of logistics services, Trompeter explained that in the auto manufacturing sector, managed logistics services requests have seen an uptick in demand as companies are looking to experienced organizations to outsource their entire logistics operations and make strategic changes to help with the long-term scaling of new automotive manufacturing needs.
“We train our managed services people to be innovative in this type of environment,” said Trompeter. “If you can’t get a certain product, what else can you do? Can you shift operations and look for different ways of fixing that problem with a little bit more creativity?”
Moving the managed services teams to Detroit, with on-location guidance from Kerwin Gordon, senior director of logistics operations, Trompeter expects these solutions to grow regional opportunities for BlueGrace.
BlueGrace has been so innovative because of our company culture. It’s a great place to work and this gives us the ability to be closer to our clients as well.
“BlueGrace has been so innovative because of our company culture. It’s a great place to work and this gives us the ability to be closer to our clients as well. Our top-tier talent loves to get on-site with our clients, walk the docks and try to truly understand how to optimize your supply chain using different tools we have available,” he said.
Strategic hiring within Michigan
As Trompeter described to FreightWaves the growth the managed services team was experiencing, he stressed the importance of being able to pull talent from two main groups of individuals in the region: university students and experienced automotive workers.
While, strategically, the former is the most sought after in the logistics community as a whole, Trompeter believes that the latter, those familiar with OEMs, have just as much expertise and hands-on experience in creating innovative solutions.
You have so much of that available talent in the Detroit area and it will add a lot of value to our new office.
“We have had as much success with people coming directly from the automotive sector with an understanding of how they think and what outcome they are looking for from BlueGrace,” he said. “You have so much of that available talent in the Detroit area and it will add a lot of value to our new office.”
Trompeter was equally thrilled to continue building relationships with local colleges with supply chain accolades, including Central Michigan and Wayne State universities and his alma mater, Michigan State University.
“As we grow, we really need to look at how we are going to scale BlueGrace’s operations,” said Trompeter. “How do we staff appropriately as we experience this hypergrowth? Detroit just made a ton of sense for that, especially when you look at the supply chain programs at Michigan State, Central Michigan and the graduate programs available at Wayne State and Oakland University. There really is just so much talent in that area.”