Steve Beverly is senior vice president of finance for Penske Logistics, where he is responsible for all financial aspects of the company as well as its safety, loss-prevention, and quality operations. He previously served Penske as senior vice president of operations and senior vice president of operations for the West and Midwest regions.
Beverly came to Penske as part of the 2015 acquisition of Transfreight North America and was responsible for integrating the two companies’ operations. The Penske executive, who holds a bachelor’s degree in transportation and logistics from the University of Tennessee, recently spoke with DC Velocity’s group editorial director, David Maloney.
Q: How would you sum up the current state of the industry?
A: I don’t think we have seen the new normal yet. Our costs continue to escalate, as we still see cost increases with warehouses and equipment, to name a couple of examples. Labor costs have stabilized somewhat.
The markets are softening on the freight side, and we continue to see smaller carriers going out of business. We have not seen a leveling off.
There is a lot of complexity in our industry. I see this current business climate extending into late 2023.
Q: What are the advantages of working with a company like Penske that offers full supply chain solutions, including transportation, distribution, brokerage, and freight-management capabilities?
A: There are a number of advantages of working with a company like Penske Logistics. We have the depth and expertise of products across a long and distinguished history of award-winning excellence. Our associates work collaboratively with our customers to find the best long-term solutions to advance the customer’s supply chain results.
Q: Fuel costs and inflation have affected the bottom lines of transportation companies this past year. What is Penske doing to help mitigate these financial pressures?
A: We are working hard daily to mitigate financial pressures via the Penske culture of collaboration and our use of the Kaizen approach. Among our global workforce of 19,000-plus associates, we have quality teams evaluating opportunities for continuous improvements.
A series of small ideas can add up to a lot; that’s why we encourage our associates across the entire business to come up with cost-improvement ideas. Some of the best ideas I’ve seen have come from our hard-working associates that admirably perform the job daily. We are currently reworking some of our back-office operations and uncovering opportunities to automate certain processes. This has allowed us to reallocate resources and centralize operations where possible.
Q: Are there particular verticals or product categories where Penske excels, and why?
A: We are a broad service provider. We provide a wide array of services, like dedicated contract carriage, distribution center management, freight management, domestic and international freight brokerage services, and professional services.
Penske Logistics is able to effectively serve leading companies in the food and beverage, industrial manufacturing, automotive, medical supply, and retail sectors. By combining 3PL services across product categories, we have succeeded in forming technology-enabled solutions. Our customers are always seeking more visibility and increased technology capabilities to effectively service customers in this fast-paced digital age.
Q: What is Penske doing to find the workers it needs?
A: Recruitment and retention are important components of our company’s success. I think we do a great job of valuing our current associates through a variety of methods, whether it is merit increases and bonuses, offering a strong benefits package, or recognition programs.
At the foundation of this approach is the focus on teamwork. Two of our company’s biggest hiring needs are for truck drivers and warehouse associates. Our company features dedicated recruiting teams specifically focused on filling these needs.
We achieve success by meeting the candidates where they are, whether online or in-person. We stress that joining Penske Logistics is a “career choice” and that there are other opportunities in our company, which can include serving as a subject-matter expert or going into management.
Q: One of your roles at Penske is overseeing safety. Are there specific initiatives you have launched to promote a safe working environment?
A: Safety is a big area of emphasis for our company. Our 11,000-plus professional truck drivers operate a fleet of vehicles with industry-leading safety features. We also spend time coaching our drivers to become safer drivers on the road. Our fleet is equipped with in-cab cameras that are event triggered. When those events are triggered, it is an opportunity to coach our drivers to be the best version of themselves. We also utilize data science to help us predict traffic accidents and to coach our drivers proactively.This year, we introduced a proactive safety program. Our associates have enjoyed a rewards system that has led to a marked decrease in workplace injuries. Penske associates in the field have benefited from training modules that teach them to ergonomically handle our customers’ products. We also place a heavy emphasis on coaching and observation.