Waco Associates, a Norristown, Pa.-based distributor of gas, liquid and air filters, based in Norristown, Pennsylvania, receives over 100,000 filters in its warehouses every month. The filters are shipped by over 300 manufacturers to Waco's six facilities located in Florida, California, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania.
Getting these filters shipped to Waco's customers in virtually every state in the U.S. is no easy task. "It takes a logistics expert to understand trucking companies and freight rates," says Judy Undercuffler, Waco’s vice president of operations. "It's very complicated; that's not the business we're in."
Over two years ago Waco hired Translogistics Inc., a third-party logistics provider (3PL), to handle the complex task. Waco uses Translogistics for both inbound -- shipping filters from the manufacturers to Waco's warehouses, and outbound -- delivering the product from the warehouses to Waco's customers. Waco supplies filters primarily to chemical processing and refining plants, and HVAC filters to hospitals, schools, office buildings and Miami cruise lines. In addition to the U.S., the company has customers in the Caribbean Islands.
As a 3PL, Translogistics negotiates with trucking companies to handle the shipments. In emergency cases, for example if a chemical company develops problems and is about to go down, Translogistics will arrange for shipment by airfreight. "Translogistics is able to get better prices than we could on our own," Undercuffler says. "They also do a good job of consolidating our shipments with their other customers to get us an even better rate."
Translogistics has developed TransAccess, an auditing software program that is used by many of its clients. "TransAccess gives us the ability to find our freight charges quicker, instead of waiting for the bills to come in two or three weeks later," says Robert Cherry, CFO at Waco. "This gives us the ability to invoice our customers quicker. Also, a lot of our customers don't want to receive two separate bills; they want to receive one bill that includes both the product cost and the freight cost. So we can do our billing faster, respond to our customers quicker, and get our collections faster."