Oakland, California based GSC, one of the largest 3PLs in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, announced that it is expanding its services by opening an office at the Port of Savannah.

GSC said the Southeast was selected “for a variety of reasons, beyond the diversification of ocean container gateways to service our client. … Between the current economic pressures, ocean carrier pathway disruptions and more, GSC is doubling down on our commitment to growth by adding an office in the Southeast. The diversification of ocean gateways is a critical strategy to our clients and GSC is excited to replicate the success we’ve demonstrated in Northern California and the PNW in the Southeast.”

Scott Taylor, founder and CEO of GSC explained: “Our clients understand the need to diversify their import and export strategies to remain agile, and flexible to shifts in the supply chain. Opening an office in Savannah allows us to bring the Gold Standard Service our clients have come to expect in our core markets, to the third busiest container gateway in the United States. We’re honored to be a pillar in the community and are excited at the opportunity to contribute to Savannah’s continued economic growth.”

“We’re committed to growing the volume of business the Port of Savannah can handle. We’re always excited to welcome established companies to Savannah to help address the growing volume of business the Savannah gateway brings,” said Cliff Pyron, chief commercial officer, Georgia Ports Authority (GPA). “We're excited about the additional business opportunities and expertise companies like GSC will bring to our container gateway.”

Savannah’s Growth

In an interview with AJOT, Dave Arsenault, President of GSC Logistics elaborated on the expansion: “GSC established a larger footprint ... in the Pacific Northwest than we even have in Oakland where we are the largest tenant at the Port. But if you look at growth over the last five years, for example, in Oakland, it's been about a 6% reduction … in volume … it was about an 11% reduction in volume in the Pacific Northwest. And then that same five-year period there was 35% growth in Savannah.”

Arsenault said that the markets that GSC “had really established our foothold in were the markets that were growing the least, or … in some cases were actually shrinking. We were densifying our relationships with clients as a third-party logistics provider … by providing chassis and yards and pull offs and transloading. But you know, … If we can be successful in a market that's not growing … we only can imagine how successful we can be with the kind of client support that we've got … on the West Coast now also asking us to come to the East Coast in a market that's very vibrant and growing extremely fast with 35% growth over the last five years in total volume in Savannah.”

People & Software

GSC’s success … “starts with … our people and our relationships, but it really … is compounded by our technology footprint. We have really invested heavily in this area over the past couple of years since I've joined GSC based on the lessons learned during the Pandemic, with all the disruptions that we've … encountered … and experience(d) across the entire supply chain ecosystem, we were able to … learn from those lessons and implement changes in our processes and our platforms to really support this scalable type of growth.”

The result is better management of assets such as chassis: “The increased complexity that goes around managing pool chassis versus your own fleet managing … pull offs for longer distance runs where you kind of set up a hub and spoke type of a network … it's … the technology (that) has really enabled us, once we've revamped our business processes to fully automate them (and) allowed us to totally differentiate our software. Now we even have client facing dashboards … as a tool at the fingertips of our clients so that they have real time visibility to everything that's happening with GSC inside our network at any given time, 24/7 …” This competitive advantage is happening at a time when the harbor trucking industry “… is very fragmented and it's still largely comprised of a lot of smaller ‘mom and pop’ … motor carriers. And we've seen a lot of consolidation over the years where there's some larger asset-based companies that have come into some of these markets as well. But for the most part, it's still a very fragmented industry. And as a result, it's still largely run by emails, phone calls and spreadsheets.”

The result is that smaller companies “lack that next level of sophistication. And … what everybody is talking about now is one of the key lessons learned from the Pandemic is that even the companies that thought they were the most sophisticated with their technology realized that there were shortcomings, that they didn't have as much visibility as they maybe thought that they may have.”

Technology Companies Versus Logistics Companies

Technology based companies lack the experience and the personnel to properly develop software applications for the industry. On the issue of technology companies vs. logistics companies providing technology solutions… “when you look at technology companies, they only provide the data that can be plugged in, and often don’t have the visibility … on the water (terminal and ocean carrier updates), chassis pool utilization (we manage this for our clients), if the shipment is at a warehouse or transload facility all within one company. Usually, this data would be fragmented across the various vendors causing the BCO [Beneficial Cargo Owner] … to have multiple APIs [application programming interface] across multiple vendors if the vendors in each section of the supply chain even offer API integrations or have compatible systems.”

(An API is a way for two or more computer programs or components to communicate with each other. It is a type of software interface, offering a service to other pieces of software.)

Arsenault says there is a lot of investment “…being looked at now in … this end-to-end global supply chain visibility, but (with) particular focus on the last mile. And that's something that … we feel … with the larger, more sophisticated retailers, you've got to be able to fully integrate with their systems because they want to be able to manage everything from their own legacy systems …”

Motor Carrier Chassis Ownership Is Key

Another key element of GSC’s success is the company owns its own chassis which gives its customers better reliability for pickups and deliveries: “The U.S. was always a unique chassis model. It was the only country in the world of containerization …where the ocean carriers provided a chassis at one point. And every other market around the world, it's the motor carrier [who owns the chassis]. The motor carriers … like us, we've taken on those assets ourselves because we can, we're the ones who can best manage them. And [this] happened … because customers got burned during the Pandemic and other times when there's a slight disruption where all of a sudden, any extended dwell on the street leads to a chassis shortage … It only takes one or two bad actors for that to happen, where even the ones that are behaving become victims because they're all sharing the same [chassis] pool …” GSC feels they provide the better alternative because it owns its own chassis.