Former UPS, Amazon executive joins upstart middle-mile fleet

Jackson, Tennessee, Milan Supply Chain Solutions (CCJ Top 250, # 145) and its subsidiary J&B Services, based in Pontotoc, Mississippi, have been acquired and will merge to form a new dry van transporter, Ascend. Milan acquired J&B Services in 2018.

The new, now consolidated Atlanta-based carrier will focus on the regional mid-mile market in the retail, consumer goods, packaging and industrial supply sectors in the South, Midwest and of the Mid-Atlantic.

“Shippers are placing large warehouses close to urban areas, increasing the need for regional service to connect supply chain nodes, which is our goal,” said Michael McLary, a 30-year veteran of UPS and Amazon industry who will serve as Ascend CEO. “Our goal is to transform the regional truckload industry by leveraging technology, building density, and providing driver-friendly routes and policies. “

After a stint in the Coyote Logistics division of UPS, McLary built and led Amazon’s Mid-Mile Truck Brokerage division and put together a back-end transport sales team, while also leading the Amazon’s mid-mile tech group.

“While I was at Amazon, what I saw was this need for two or three things, one, with consumers wanting faster deliveries – it’s no longer three days, two days, one day it’s I want it in two hours – you have networks across the United States of manufacturers pushing product into distribution centers, and then that product has to move from distribution centers to sorting centers, ”he said. he said, “and these are all full truck movements requiring greater just-in-time capacity. Because if you miss a sorting window, or you miss a delivery, it’s not one or two packages. You have 25,000 packages on a truck – or 25,000 products that are now going to be late for consumers.

“Having seen the capabilities of regional carriers, I had this thought process of ‘Professionalizing the midsize truckload segment’, and it focused on the needs of shippers,” he said. “And then at the same time, let’s be very specific about our use of technology to create routes that get drivers home.”

Consolidating Milan and J&B under one name, McLary said, helps streamline the flow of business between the carrier and its shipping partners, which is especially important as it aims for future growth.

McLary said his company was drawn to the Milan acquisition in part because of its location, “a sort of equal distance between Nashville and Memphis,” he said. “Lots of freight coming and going.” West Tennessee is also set to benefit from a $ 5.6 billion investment from Ford to create an industrial campus about 50 miles northeast of Memphis, where the automaker will produce electric trucks and vehicle batteries. electric.

Geography aside, McLary praised Milan for its technology deployment and diverse customer base, noting that these three considerations, combined with Ascend’s in-depth expertise (Ascend’s board of directors is made up of senior executives from industry with over 150 years of combined experience (such as Amazon, FedEx and UPS), create “a super powerful formula”.

“We have a very strong focus on non-cyclical industries: food and beverage, retail and e-commerce, all types of manufacturing. So you take the base and combine that with some of the experience of [Ascend’s] board partners … that will really help us build our density and, and leveraging that hub within Tennessee, that’s not where we’re going to stop. “

McLary predicts that the company – as it moves towards its targets of 4,000 tractors and trailers three times that – will continue to expand into other geographies “where we can place terminals and set up relay networks. If you end up with enough density you can relay the OTR and that’s great for the drivers, ”he said.“ There’s nothing there. better than the driver who can go back and forth and go 600 miles in a day rather than going out, staying out for a week, then coming home. “

CCJ‘s Top 250 has been a hot place to ride and bargain in this young new year, with Bison last week taking over Maine-based Hartt Transport and Wilson Logistics selling parts of its Western US division. United.

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