When ITG Transportation Services changed leadership at the first of the year, it kept a strong link with the past.
John Kopp, owner and president of the 34-year-old Chicago-based brokerage since 1993, handed the reins to his son, Daniel Kopp, who had been vice president of sales and development the past five years.
John Kopp will keep a leadership role in the ITG accounting department, while industry veteran David Duke now serves as chief operations officer and John Kopp Jr. as chief financial officer.
“It’s exciting and humbling to be stepping into this new role,” said newly minted CEO Dan Kopp. “We have a tremendous culture and a foundation of success to build on. As our industry has evolved, we’ve worked hard to stay ahead of it with better technology and better operations. We’ve shown that we can do it, and we’re well-positioned to help our customers do the same.”
As countless digital and traditional freight brokerages enter the industry, it’s helpful to study the staying power of brokerages like ITG, especially in volatile markets.
ITG Transportation Services is best known as a specialist in nationwide drayage service but also offers truckload, flatbed and specialty services throughout the U.S. and Canada.
In 1993, when John Kopp purchased ITG, it had fewer than 20 people. From 1993 to 2015, ITG doubled in size, as Kopp worked to establish a stable company with a culture committed to best practices and customer service.
After Dan assumed the role of Vice President of Sales and Development in 2015, ITG more than doubled in size again. Two key factors made this growth possible: the expansion of the sales team and the purposeful use of customer-facing technology.
Unlike other brokerages that utilize talent and resources to create proprietary software, ITG aggregates best-in-class software so it can focus on serving customers. But ITG also leverages technology to foster leaner, more streamlined processes.
“Over the last 12 months, we’ve seen a lot of companies going out of business as a result of the downturn in freight,” said Derek Kopp, director of marketing. “We’ve looked internally and taken advantage of the visibility that we have with our data and have been able to greatly optimize our operations. Between 2018 and 2019, we’ve been able to keep our gross profits level through optimization, even where volumes have been down.”
For example, the Kopps have structured operations to minimize overhead. Of the now 120 staff members at the company, only 60 work in the office at any given time, as employees split their time between home and the office. That enables ITG to remain lithe and flexible while offering a bigger operation and providing better service to customers — whom ITG consider family, too.
“When we treat our customers as family, that engenders a certain amount of customer loyalty,” Derek Kopp said. “People come to us because they know we’ll have their back, and we have their back because we care about them.”
At the internal level, that same family ethos may give ITG a competitive edge. In collaboration with Dan Kopp, Derek Kopp is codifying the company’s values in order to reinforce what has grown into a successful work culture throughout ITG.
“People like working here,” Derek Kopp said. “We have an 85% retention rate over the last five years. Our employees bring their friends and family into the company. At our last company meeting, I asked who there was referred by a friend or family member, and half of the hands went up. When we say we’re a family business, it means we like the company enough to want to bring our own family into it.”