Loads to Anywhere Call Here: Truckstop.com began with a sign

  (Photo: Shutterstock)

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Truckstop.com was started in 1995 by Scott Moscrip, a pioneer in online freight matching. Before Scott’s vision hit the industry, carriers would go to a truck stop and check out a television monitor, call in, and hope the load was still available. Needless to say, it was very inefficient.

In the mid ‘90s, Moscrip was a computer developer working for the department of defense in Washington, D.C., trying to get them to adopt this newfangled thing called the Internet. When health issues struck his dad, however, Scott, an oldest son, moved back to New Plymouth, Idaho to help take care of him. A small town of about 1,400, New Plymouth is about 45 minutes from Boise. Needless to say, there were no Internet jobs in New Plymouth.

He wasn’t there long before he had to get his father’s car that was left out in California. He flew to California, picked up the car, and began the long drive back home. He was driving through remote Nevada when he saw a billboard sign: Loads to Anywhere Call Here. This was how it worked even just a little over twenty years ago. In the off chance that someone might see such a sign from the road, and happen to have a pen and paper and be in need of finding freight, this was yet another extremely inefficient way of connecting drivers to freight.

That was the genesis—a stroke of inspiration. It put Moscrip's mind to work. There was nothing being done in transportation at the time. With his background as a computer developer, and his interest and knowledge of the unharnessed potential of the emerging World Wide Web, he wondered: How could they make this system more efficient?

All these years later, through all the virtually incomprehensible changes, Truckstop.com has remained true to that early vision.

“Today most people think of us as a load board,” CEO Paris Cole tells FreightWaves in an exclusive interview at TIA 2018, “but what people don’t realize is that we’re much more than that.”

Cole has been the CEO for the past two and a half years. He started as CFO about five years ago, and when Moscrip was ready to take his hands off the day-to-day operations and become board chairman, he handed the reigns to Cole.

“We’re enabling our customers to move freight at a much faster rate. When we look at a lot of these new entrants, and they talk about disruption and how they’re going to take out the brokers. We don’t consider ourselves disrupters. We see ourselves as enabling the movement of freight. We have the ability to continue to move the frictionless movement of freight,” Cole reiterates.

“We are the central hub. The difference between us and these new entrants is they’re really playing the broker. They call themselves something new, but they’re really no different than the incumbents. The new entrants claim to have a bent toward technology, but they’re really no different.”

“New entrants have to break in by obtaining their own freight,” says Cole. “So, they’re competing against the XPOs, Landstars, C.H. Robinsons of the world.” Cole explains that the already-established brokers have the vast majority of the freight connections, and the new players simply don’t have enough freight to keep the carriers engaged. At least, this is often how it plays out.

“What’s unique about us is that we’re a neutral party. We’re not a broker, we have no intention of being a broker. We have freight from all of the entire industry.”

In this sense, Truckstop.com functions as a freight aggregator. “Why do people go to Kayak rather than Delta?” Cole asks. “Rather than use multiple apps, they can download Truckstop.com and see freight from the entire industry. So, really that’s how we’re enabling the entire industry.”

We have the ability to continue to move the frictionless movement of freight.

“Another thing that sets up apart is that we spend a lot of time vetting our carrier-customers. So this helps the people who use us. Not everyone does that,” he says.

Brent Hutto, Truckstop.com’s chief relationship officer, spoke earlier in the week at TIA 2018 about the necessity of creating profitable alliances, and some of the new focus and emphasis the company is utilizing. More than ever 3PLs are investing in sophisticated software that helps maximize their logistics efficiency. However, one often overlooked bottom line for their success remains old-fashioned partnerships. In today’s freight market, securing great alliances is one of the keys to growing a successful brokerage.

That’s what Hutto is all about.

Transparency has been one of the industry buzzwords for at least the past year, but it’s not always clear just how it can be leveraged to a real advantage. Hutto says it’s about clarity in the first place.

“Tell your customer all the details—even the bad ones,” he says. “What are the wait times? What are the dock conditions?”

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Among other things, this builds trust. Ultimately, they’re going to find out the bad information themselves. Wouldn’t it be good to know from a single source? More importantly, post your rates.

“The bottom line is that loads posted with a rate move four times faster than those without a price posted,” says Hutto. Also, if you’re transparent about your rates--and your rates are good--you’ll climb the rankings. “And this is what carriers and drivers are looking for. It’s one of the first things they do when they go to a load board. They check for the rates, and they filter by ranking.”

“Good freight only lasts about 60 seconds,” Hutto says, and repeats.

Cole nods when asked about this. “That’s right,” he says. Then he illustrates his point by asking, “Why is the stock market so efficient? Because everyone knows the price, right? Everyone more or less has the same information,” he says.

“In transportation we’re years behind, so what we’re trying to do is encourage our customers to be more transparent. I get that they might not be able to make as much on an individual transaction, but if they do they’ll move more volume. Productivity and margin will increase as a result.”

Truckstop.com began with a sign, and the sign elicited a vision. In some ways, for all the changes, the vision has come full circle. It's still all about relationships, and trusting others with your freight, and the more visibility the better.

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