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Flexport taps Amazon pipeline again for operations leader

Tim Collins to reunite with new CEO Dave Clark, focus on shipment efficiency

Incoming CEO Dave Clark is bringing in another former colleague from Amazon to help take high-flying supply chain startup Flexport to the next level.

The San Francisco-based freight forwarder has named Tim Collins, a former vice president of Amazon’s global logistics unit who spent the past 18 months as a top executive at instant delivery platform Gopuff, for the new role of senior vice president of operations, effective Sept. 12, a spokesperson told FreightWaves.

Collins will take over many of the day-to-day operational functions overseen by COO Sanne Manders, who will now transition to be chief strategy officer. In his new role he will focus on setting Flexport’s five-to-10 year strategy alongside senior executives.

Collins worked closely with Clark at Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) for more than 20 years, helping build Amazon’s logistics network and its international growth. 

His appointment follows the naming of Darcie Henry, a long-serving human resources chief at Amazon, to lead Flexport’s human resources department. Both individuals have extensive experience rapidly scaling teams. 

Clark, who resigned as head of Amazon’s Worldwide Consumer unit on July 1, will join Flexport Thursday and share CEO duties with founder Ryan Petersen for six months. He is credited with creating Amazon’s massive logistics network, including an in-house airline with nearly 100 cargo aircraft, a new air hub at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, ocean container management and hundreds of fulfillment centers.

Collins will report directly to Clark, who was brought in to manage the transition from a startup to a mature business that knows how to reach its target market, is self-sufficient and has a long-term strategic plan to compete with global third-party logistics providers. His mandate is to sustainably grow the company’s geographic reach, IT and automation capabilities, talent pool and customers, while making the company consistently profitable.

Flexport doubled revenue to $3.3 billion and posted its first profit in 2021, moving more than $19 billion worth of goods for thousands of customers such as McDonald’s. The 9-year-old company has raised more than $2.3 billion and has more than 3,500 employees. It expects about $5 billion in gross revenue this year.

In February, it raised $935 million in a Series E funding round that values it at $8 billion, according to Pitchbook data.

The company has been a leader in marrying the physical and digital worlds of logistics. Its freight forwarding services are managed through a cloud-based platform that simplifies cross-border trade for customers.

Operations team

At Flexport, Collins will focus on operational execution, driving down the cost of service, coordinating with transportation and other partners, and making sure the logistics provider has the right mix of assets to serve target customers, the spokesperson said.

“Building the most efficient operations worldwide is critical to Flexport’s growth. Tim has an impressive track record of driving operational excellence at fast-growing organizations, and his leadership will be integral to scaling our global operations and furthering our mission to make global trade easy for everyone,” Petersen said in a statement.

Collins started as general manager of Amazon’s first fulfillment center. He subsequently held various leadership roles, including director of North America fulfillment; director of emerging regions, where he led Amazon’s entry into new markets including India, China and Brazil; and vice president of European operations. After 20 months at Uber, Collins returned in August 2016 to head Amazon’s global logistics operation, where he was responsible for building all of Amazon’s last-mile operations worldwide.

At Gopuff, Collins was in charge of supply chain, transportation, fulfillment, delivery, real estate, operations product and technology, and customer service.  

His top deputy will be Ilse de Bruin, Flexport’s current vice president of operations.

Collins, who will be based in Bellevue, Washington, started his career at the Port of Seattle, where he managed bonded warehouses and then led development of the port’s largest marine terminal at the time as general manager of construction. 

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.

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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at ekulisch@freightwaves.com