Paul Johnson brings over 20 years of logistics and customer service experience to his role as the Vice President of Business Services. Since age 18, he has overseen the movement of big equipment and liquid petroleum products. One highlight was his four years serving in the U.S. Navy as the Navigation Supervisor on board the USS Essex LHD-2. Below, Paul shares a glimpse of behind-the-scenes at Blacklidge, a prediction regarding the future of the industry and reflections on his team’s accomplishments.
What do you like most about logistics?
So much of our business relies on logistics – from hauling in raw materials to delivering loads to customers. Everything we touch is critical to the business and serving our customers. Because of this, we handle every job with the utmost care. Every day is like a challenging puzzle. There are so many variables to consider with time, distance, product, weight, drivers, etc. We’ve continued to grow as a business by adding new geographical coverage and more products, which adds to the complexities of logistics. We all love the challenge and take pride in doing a great job. I like solving the unknowns.
What makes your team so successful?
We’ve been together a long time and have helped grow the business. Everybody knows what their part is and it’s hard to frustrate any of us. Every single customer load is significant, and one is not more important than another. Performance and Reliability is our tagline, and meeting customer expectations is something we live by every day. We get to celebrate 5, 10, 15, 40 victories a day.
How does Blacklidge track shipments?
If a customer calls to say, “Where is our load?” we know exactly where it is. We use technology that is continuously tracking our drivers in real time, automatically updating four times every second. And each trailer has a solar-powered tracker that updates every 30 minutes—we know where our loads are at all times.
How do you continue to improve?
We are always urgently learning and looking for ways to improve. One way is to look at some of the industry leaders. Take the big one: Amazon. Amazon delivers packages the next day. We can do that. Our sales team can say, “Give us 24-hours-notice and we’ll be there.” And we keep our promise.
Another best-in-breed logistics model is a pizza chain, like Domino’s, Pizza Hut or Papa John’s. Whether an order comes through a call or online, these companies immediately confirm, process and get customer orders moving. For Blacklidge, it does not matter whether you call, send an email or a text. We acknowledge you as quickly as possible, 24/7/365.
What’s the future of logistics and customer service in our industry?
Proactive customer support. For example, the majority of our customers use our trailer as their onsite storage tank. If they had a tank affixed with telemetry, it could give us a reading of the product. We would then get an email the moment the tank goes below a critical level. We send the customer a message to say, “Hey, we just got a report that your tank is low. Would you like to place an order?” Of those customers with these tanks, we have yet to have anyone say “No.” What if we could monitor usage and do that before the product hits a critical level?
Realizing our customers’ need for more product is a big deal because we can keep them out of a bind. This kind of support is the future.
What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
I’m most proud of the technology we’ve invested in. We partner with some of the country’s best companies to provide tracking software on the trucks and trailers. We also use texting software which allows us to provide another level of customer service. Our customers can text us right from the job site. Making it easy for our customers to order from anywhere is important to our customers and to us.
Because of our technology, when COVID hit, we didn’t miss a beat. We were still taking care of each and every customer. The only difference is, we were able to do it sitting at a kitchen table.