A little-known technology company in California automates carrier compliance and sources certificates of insurance for many of the largest freight brokerages in North America. RMIS, or Registry Monitoring Insurance Services, has the largest database of carrier certificates of insurance and leverages its data to help brokerages accelerate the carrier onboarding process.
FreightWaves spoke to RMIS president Hayden Landon and executive vice president Peter Lunenfeld about the history of the company, how they’ve seen the brokerage industry change, and the service they provide their customers.
RMIS launched in 1996 as a third-party vendor for freight brokers that could help them track carrier insurance certificates. At that time, the benefit of outsourcing certain labor-intensive processes was less well understood by the freight brokerage industry, and many were reluctant to share their carrier data – brokers viewed the capacity in their networks as their most important resource and competitive differentiator.
“It was a tough sell for a long time,” Landon said. So, while RMIS continued its business as a service provider to freight brokers, it pivoted to other industries and found traction with property management. Property managers needed to onboard new vendors to work on their properties quickly, and there was a lot of paperwork to manage – W-9s, pre-qualification, verification questions, etc. In 2005, RMIS built an automated platform to track those documents and transmit them automatically.
“In 2009, we took that technology and said ‘let’s go back into our core business of freight brokers and design it around their needs,’” Landon continued. “We already have them in our system – if we can automate the process of on-boarding carriers and we already have the certificate, we take the process from hours and days to minutes.”
Ninety-seven percent of the time when a freight broker asks for help on-boarding a carrier, RMIS already has that carrier’s insurance certificate on file and can fulfill the request within one minute, Landon said. That service has been key for brokerages that need to cover loads quickly with high quality capacity.
Now, RMIS has 130 employees in a 27,000-square foot facility in Westlake Village, California, and counts some of the largest and most dynamic freight brokerages as its customers. Coyote Logistics, GlobalTranz Enterprises, Echo Global Logistics, Mode Transportation, BNSF Logistics, Werner Global Logistics, PLS Logistics, NFI, Sunset Transportation, Fastmore, Axle Logistics, and Penske all use RMIS for carrier onboarding.
“What’s really cool is being able to solve a fundamental challenge the brokers have,” Lunenfeld said. “They can only make their money and be profitable if they have as many carriers as possible, but at the same time they have to manage their risk by not using carriers that are not ideal, whether that means government data about them or insurance that doesn’t meet expectations. This product became a ‘have your cake and eat it too.’ We can create a giant pipeline for our broker customers to take on carriers as fast as possible and still maintain the compliance piece without the broker having to do any extra work.”
Today, RMIS registers a new carrier for its customers every 12 seconds.
Lunenfeld discussed one large brokerage that was onboarding 600 to 700 carriers per month and assumed that its teams were keeping up with demand; they wanted to use RMIS to take some of the workload off of their back office employees. The brokerage quickly realized that it was an internal bottleneck that was slowing down their onboarding process, not demand, and within a few weeks they were onboarding 1,400 carriers per month.
“Now they’re operating at a velocity they didn’t even know was possible,” Lunenfeld said.
RMIS has integrated with a number of transportation management systems, including MercuryGate, Aljex, McLeod, TMW, Revenova, Turvo, and 3Gtms, but prides itself on building API connectivity for large brokerages with its own technology.
“The bigger guys still tend to be proprietary – they roll their own,” Lunenfeld said. “The way we’ve systematized our integration, it works whether you’re a McLeod or you have a proprietary system. Our ability to commoditize that data flow really helps us.”
The sheer variety of off-the-shelf software and third-party vendors has helped small brokerages scale more quickly today than in previous cycles. RMIS serves the smaller end of the market as well as the big players, and thinks of its offering as a tool to help freight brokerages run leaner and faster.
“The bigger, sophisticated players have always been tech-focused and have always understood that everything that can be automated needs to be cheaper and faster and more powerful,” Lunenfeld said. “What we’ve seen recently is that the new smaller players, the startups are as or even more focused on automation as the big guys. That’s where we’ve seen some acceleration in the business. New companies ask for our APIs and get them into the brokerage on day one. We’ve seen the small guys get bigger faster in the past 10 years.”