Marc Althen of Penske Logistics
In our continuing series of discussions with top supply-chain company executives, Marc Althen discusses discusses Penske's role as a third-party logistics service provider and the market outlook for 2020.
Marc Althen is president of Penske Logistics. Althen began his career as a project engineer with Chevron. He came to Penske following Penske's 1988 merger with Gelco Truck Leasing, where Althen had served as a construction director. His first role with Penske was to manage the environmental services department. During the next 20-plus years, Althen took on positions of increasing responsibility, including vice president of environmental services and vice president of administration.
In 2004, he was named senior vice president of administration and procurement for Penske Truck Leasing. In that role, he was responsible for real estate, facilities, energy, telecommunications, vehicle supply, vehicle remarketing, and non-vehicle procurement.
Althen is a member of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and sits on the board of Fleetwash, a company that is majority-owned by Transportation Resource Partners. He is also a board member for several charitable and cultural organizations in the Reading, Pennsylvania, area. He holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Kentucky.
Q: For those not familiar with your company, can you describe the work of Penske Logistics?
A: We are a third-party logistics provider servicing the automotive, food and beverage, industrial, manufacturing, and consumer packaged goods industries. The majority of our business is operated throughout North America, and we provide six primary services: distribution center management, dedicated contract carriage, regional truckload services, transportation management, lead logistics provider, and freight brokerage.
Q: How do you view the current transportation market and the prospects for 2020?
A: We are cautiously optimistic. We know there is excess trucking capacity in the market, and therefore there are rate pressures. We are also still experiencing a truck-driver shortage, and at Penske Logistics, we are acting on strategies to ensure that we are hiring the best drivers available.
Today, we see more customers and prospects reaching out to us specifically around the main services we offer—transportation management, dedicated contract carriage, and distribution management. Customers are looking to optimize their networks in an effort to reduce their costs. We are always striving to exceed our customers' expectations, and that's what helps us build trust and win business.
Q: What are the advantages of coming to a company like Penske that offers both warehousing and transportation as well as brokerage and other supply chain services?
A: Shippers look to Penske Logistics for business outcomes—rather than products. They are seeking to better serve their customers, which includes their external customers as well as the internal customers or stakeholders that interact with their supply chain team and processes. They want to improve their cost of operations, as measured by KPIs and financial statements. Our ability to incorporate the people, skills, systems, and resources from across our various product lines into a unique solution to meet their very specific needs—ultimately, the ability to deliver a compelling solution—is what keeps them coming back to Penske.
Q: How are your technology investments at Penske helping you to better serve your customers?
A: The market for supply chain software is growing rapidly. Both established players and start-ups are enhancing their platforms and creating new offerings at a rapid pace. For shippers, off-the-shelf software is difficult to configure to meet the needs of their industry, and shippers are struggling to separate the hype from reality in the burgeoning tech space.
IT talent with experience in supply chain systems is very limited, and shippers' internal IT departments, while skilled, tend to be committed to implementing new digital strategies, not supply chain systems. Penske brings best-in-class platforms, speed of implementation, seasoned IT practitioners, and commitments to measureable results that supply chain executives find attractive.
Over the years, Penske Logistics has acquired and implemented the best commercially available software on the market. This is the same software any shipper or third-party logistics service provider can buy. However, Penske has taken additional steps to customize and develop a proprietary solution—the Penske ClearChain technology suite. We've drawn on our experience to invest in the right tools to drive visibility and insight into the supply chain. This includes portals, analytics, dashboards, scorecards and mobile tools. Penske developers have created dozens of supporting applications, informed by our experience working with customers. These apps are integrated with our core systems, offering users a seamless experience.
Q: You have a background working in environmental services. How have you been able to promote sustainability in your role as president of Penske Logistics?
A: We are constantly evaluating and implementing the newest and best technology to drive sustainability in our fleet and logistics operations. On a daily basis, we continue to optimize customer shipments in a variety of ways, and to operate and maintain cutting-edge trucks. That's why for the fourth time this decade, Penske Logistics was honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its sustainability efforts, collecting a 2019 SmartWay Excellence Award in the Truck Carrier category. Penske Logistics also attained SmartWay awards in 2018, 2017, and 2013. We are one of 55 truck and multimodal carriers to receive this distinction, representing the best environmental performers of SmartWay's 3,700 partners.
Q: What value to you feel Penske brings to its customers?
A: At the end of the day, we all know that relationships play an important role and it is critical to be a trusted adviser. That's why we are always striving to challenge the status quo and exceed our customers' expectations day in and day out. Some people consider it to be cliché to say that it's our people who make the difference in our solutions, but we don't. We continue to invest in our talent.
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