St. Louis-based SheerTrans Solutions, commonly known as Sheer Logistics, announced Friday it has teamed up with industry technology titans Eddie Leshin and Brian Winshall to propel the company’s middleware solutions for its shipper, carrier and broker clients.
Winshall and Leshin were part of the American Backhaulers team, pioneers in the space leveraging a traditional brokerage model backed by new information systems and processes that are now commonly found in 3PLs today. Both went on to work for C.H. Robinson, which acquired American Backhaulers in 1999.
Leshin continued his career at Coyote Logistics and in other industry roles while Winshall moved on to executive roles at AFN, GlobalTranz and other transportation advisory positions.
Now both serve as operating partners with Woodlawn Partners, and with another partner, Greg Bregstone, they led the debt and equity co-investment in Sheer Logistics with participation from asset management firm Monroe Capital LLC. Terms of the agreement were undisclosed.
Modern managed transportation
Winshall explained that what attracted the duo and investors to the company was its modernized approach to managed transportation solutions.
“Managed transportation is often a misrepresented term used to describe something as basic as a specific lane being managed by a broker,” he said. “Providers often have planners in a control tower using transportation management systems and integrated ecosystems of industry technologies that plan and execute loads on behalf of their customers.”
Winshall expounded on Sheer’s technology-centric approach to providing that same service, yet instead of the managed services often working to benefit the broker’s own network of shippers and carriers, Sheer merely makes a fee while offering a technology strategy that benefits the long-term success of the shipper and the carriers it works with.
“Sheer considers managed transportation as a technology-driven, fee-based solution,” he said. “The service first includes a strategic current state analysis of the customer’s existing network, identifying areas of opportunity and a collaborative process to align on a solution which provides an enhanced future state often resulting in efficiency gains, cost reductions, service improvement and profitable growth.”
These areas can include services like procurement operations, business intelligence, freight auditing and dock scheduling, to name a few.
According to the company, Sheer’s fees for its technology recommendations and execution are enough to stay profitable. As a matter of fact, Sheer started out as a pure-play technology provider and only moved into providing logistics services at the request of a few clients.
“The need for another broker in the sea of brokers was low when we opened our doors in 2009,” said Joe Egertson, founder and CEO of SheerTrans Solutions, who retained significant ownership in the deal and will continue to hold his executive role.
“However, the need for technology-driven solutions was growing. My past experience with a large transportation company that had added a managed transportation service offering to supplement their services resulted in my strong belief that a technology-driven, mode-agnostic, carrier-agnostic managed transportation service was a huge opportunity for Sheer and our customers.”
Throughout these past 13 years of its technology-first approach, the company has produced a robust proprietary middleware infrastructure, Sheer Exchange, that acts as a single integration hub, slashing execution time while also being able to capture large amounts of data that clients can use to make strategic logistics decisions that favor their needs at that time.
Winshall said that while many outmoded managed transportation providers promise an uptime of 60 to 90 days — and often longer than six months — Sheer’s technology advantage has it onboarding new clients with their specific requests in an average of about eight weeks.
What Winshall, as well as Leshin and Sheer’s new capital partners, was attracted to was this modern managed transportation approach that was genuinely about helping clients improve their logistics operations using the newest technology, whether it profited the company or not. He pointed out that sometimes Sheer’s proprietary solutions never even end up operating under the middleware it provides.
“There are many more technology solutions today that enhance the supply chains and drive efficiencies in the industry. The complexity of these technologies has made it even more important today that companies find service providers that can not only deliver great service and transportation solutions but can also provide data and information to empower these technology platforms. … The platform also provides flexible options that are priced to help companies achieve their financial and overall supply chain goals,” said Winshall.
As part of the deal, Winshall and Leshin will be taking on board member roles. Winshall will also join the Sheer team as chief revenue officer while the company uses its new capital and investor relations to add talent to its sales, technology development and product enhancement teams.
“Sheer’s decision to partner with [Monroe] is a beneficial by-product of choosing to align with Woodlawn Partners. Eddie and Brian bring their extensive experience as executive leaders in some of the more well-known logistics companies that were backed by private equity and where they were able to create substantial value and outcomes,” Egertson told FreightWaves.