New truckload provider aims to serve e-commerce and the middle mile

With e-commerce redrawing the landscape for freight transportation, a new Atlanta-primarily based carrier lately introduced as a center-mile current market service provider throughout the South, Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions.

Ascend is a dry van, comprehensive truckload firm with a family society that innovates via practical experience and experimentation, CEO Michael McLary told FreightWaves.

McLary is a 30-year freight transportation business veteran at providers these as UPS and Amazon.

Michael McLary, CEO of Ascend

“At UPS, the culture is family members, you do what is ideal for the workers, so it is certainly bringing that sort of lifestyle,” McLary mentioned. “At Amazon, it is about experimenting, continually making an attempt to make on your own improved. Don’t be content with the standing quo. Really don’t say you just can’t come across a way to do it, make guaranteed that you can fix difficulties. Ascend, it is form of a hybrid of equally cultures that I consider fit nicely jointly.”

Ascend at present has about 775 vans, 2,270 trailers and far more than 1,200 total-time motorists. The enterprise works by using a blend of company drivers and operator-operators. Ascend will aim on shippers in the retail, client merchandise, packaging and industrial offer chains.

“We stick with noncyclical products, so we operate e-commerce, retail, purchaser items, paper packaging, corrugated containers, food items and beverage, and dry solutions,” McLary explained. “We have a tendency to remain absent from the cyclicals, this kind of as the automotive-kind industries.”

The notion for Ascend started out all over 2019, even though McLary was still at Amazon, when he observed a need to have for extra responsible middle-mile regional carriers. McLary, together with several other previous executives from UPS and FedEx, place together an financial investment thesis for Ascend.

“I ran Amazon’s middle-mile truckload brokerage business enterprise and also a backhaul gross sales workforce in the middle-mile technological know-how team,” McLary explained. “What I observed is that carriers weren’t equipped to hold up with the desires of shippers.”

E-commerce has increased the velocity of freight movement into distribution facilities the place shippers are getting to suit item actions into limited home windows, relying on regional carriers, according to McLary.

Individuals put in a history $855 billion online in 2021, an maximize of 9% when compared to 2020, according to software giant Adobe, which tracks online revenue. Shoppers also used far more than $3 billion on line in November and December.

“People were leveraging a whole lot of the regional carriers and just couldn’t get the assistance good quality that they essential,” McLary mentioned.

Ascend was fashioned by the merger of Jackson, Tennessee-based Milan Provide Chain Options and Potonoc, Mississippi-based mostly J&B Products and services, a regional transportation and logistics expert services service provider.

Milan acquired J&B in October 2018. Ascend is backed by personal fairness organization Wellspring Capital Management Group.

“We went out on the route to get businesses and we built our first acquisition again in Oct 2019, then growth, the COVID-19 pandemic transpired,” McLary mentioned. “Since then, we have been transferring at a very little bit much more of a a lot quicker pace, and you’ll continue on to see us make acquisitions in extremely strategic parts.”

Along with getting regional truckload carriers and bettering their service, Ascend also has a truckload brokerage products and services device, complementing the company’s asset functions by providing dry van capability and specialized choices these as temperature-controlled and flatbed automobiles.

Ascend’s business strategy also involves leveraging technology to create a driver relay procedure that lets truckers to get dwelling when they want.

Ascend motorists can receive up to 64 cents for every mile setting up pay back primarily based on practical experience, with normal salaries ranging from $71,000 to $82,000 per year. Ascend also trains new motorists, with a two-working day orientation where by they are paid up to $1,000, in accordance to the company’s internet site.

“In 2019, we also experienced a driver lack situation, and it is only been exacerbated given that then,” McLary mentioned. “We developed proprietary optimization tools into our TMS. We’re operating additional and much more relays, which motorists appreciate. You can mimic OTR without putting a driver on the street for five days.” 

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