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Viewpoint: How TriMas centralized freight and boosted profits

For 15 years, LM has partnered with NASSTRAC, one of the leading logistics and transportation advocacy organizations in the market, to fix the spotlight on a savvy logistics operation that has demonstrated excellence in the execution of a strategy designed to streamline its company’s operations and contribute to the bottom line.

By ·
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By ·

The editorial staff of Logistics Management (LM) is thrilled to again have the winner of the NASSTRAC Shipper of the Year Award grace our October cover. For 15 years, LM has partnered with NASSTRAC, one of the leading logistics and transportation advocacy organizations in the market, to fix the spotlight on a savvy logistics operation that has demonstrated excellence in the execution of a strategy designed to streamline its company’s operations and contribute to the bottom line.

And this year’s winner, Candace Holowicki, the director of global transportation and logistics at TriMas Corp., and her team have executed both parts of this lofty goal—and then some.

Indeed, the story behind Holowicki’s implementation of her companywide logistics strategy neatly touches on the elements that LM loves to highlight when we dig into a case study of this magnitude. First, her work has not only helped to reduce freight spend as a percentage of sales by 2.4 percent annually, but it also highlights the power that a smart, centralized logistics management approach can bring to a highly-diversified organization—in this case leveling the process across nine business units.

“A roll out of a centralized effort of this size amounts to nothing short of a major culture change,” says Contributing Editor John Schulz, author of the cover story. “That doesn’t happen unless you have support from the C-suite and every business unit leader—and that’s just what she got.”

In fact, her continued work is part of the company’s Global Services Organization (GSO) that was started back in 2010 as an effort to level the company’s functional silos (procurement, logistics, operations), gain better efficiencies, and roll out a culture of continuous improvement across the board. A few months into the project, Tom Aepelbacher, vice president of the GSO, identified freight and logistics as a significant opportunity and hired Holowicki to lead the charge.

The changes needed became readily apparent. Prior to 2011, the company’s nine strategic business units operated autonomously, and each chose its own transportation partners almost no coordination. Locations were allowed to choose their own carriers with little regard to price, while claims were handled differently at each business. 

“It was completely fragmented,” says Holowicki. “Nobody was adhering to any formal set of programs, and everybody was doing what they thought was best for their own location.” And due to this disconnect, freight costs were 7.2 percent of sales—a more efficient standard for a manufacturer is about 5 percent.

Starting on page 26, Schulz shares how Holowicki set out to create a centralized logistics strategy based on best practices that have been rolled out across the business units. Under her leadership, TriMas Logistics has improved shipping performance through shared tools such as outsourced freight bill audit and payment, a transportation management system, and a number of TriMas-wide requests for logistics services quotations.

“She went mode by mode, business unit by business unit, digging into the data, eliminating empty miles, and optimizing every move possible to get terrific results,” says Schulz. “But perhaps the most impressive part: Now TriMas has the process and systems in place to just keep getting better.”


About the Author

Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director
Michael Levans is Group Editorial Director of Peerless Media’s Supply Chain Group of publications and websites including Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management Review, Modern Materials Handling, and Material Handling Product News. He’s a 23-year publishing veteran who started out at the Pittsburgh Press as a business reporter and has spent the last 17 years in the business-to-business press. He’s been covering the logistics and supply chain markets for the past seven years. You can reach him at [email protected]

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