In today’s globalized world, a product might traverse across continents, doing so through multiple modes of transportation, before it reaches the consumer. And where and how it travels matters economically to not just the producer, but the customer: in one study, the logistics costs of delivering a $3.60 box of cereal to the consumer’s table was about $.37, with a net retail profit of only about $.05. Increasingly-complex supply chains require better technology to track, forecast, and optimize the process.
Founded in 2007, American Global Logistics (AGL) is a rapidly-growing Atlanta-based company that does just that. AGL’s cloud-based software for the logistics industry has attracted some of the country’s largest importers and exporters as clients, as well as the attention of private equity firm NexPhase Capital, which purchased the self-funded, profitable company last year.
Tackling the complicated industry requires a leader who really understand the end-to-end process involved. So AGL has brought on a CEO who knows logistics — from the top-down.
With 30 years in the logistics industry, Jon Slangerup started his career at FedEx in the global giant’s early days. Since then he’s served as President of FedEx Canada and the CEO of one of the largest shipping seaports in the world, the Port of Long Beach . His experience with both ocean and air freight give him deep insight into two major focuses for AGL’s solutions.
What led him to switch to the tech side of things? A desire to be on the forefront of innovation and a belief in the company’s values.
“AGL’s track record of consistently delivering exceptional customer experience sets us apart from our competitors,” says Slangerup. “In an industry focused on price competition, AGL focuses on value based on customer service and delivering the right solution for each customer, which has proven to be a successful and sustainable model.”
Slangerup is ready to make big moves; AGL recently received a private equity capital investment to further fuel growth. He shares more about his rise to the top of the industry, why he decided to switch to tech, and what’s up next for this supply-chain superstar.
How did you first get started in the logistics industry?
After six years working for the U.S. Navy as an avionics specialist and completion of my undergraduate degree in aeronautical operations and maintenance from Embry-Riddle, I was fortunate to join FedEx when it was still a small, rapidly growing company. In the 20-plus years that followed, I was part of an extraordinary team on the leading edge of logistics and global supply chain solutions, culminating in my seven-year assignment as president of FedEx Canada, during which time we experienced 20X growth.
What challenges you about this industry?
What interests me about the space is that despite the incredible growth and advancements I’ve seen over the past 30 years, there’s still so much opportunity, particularly using information technology. We’re taking tremendous strides in this area, using IT to improve efficiencies in key functions like planning, sourcing, process improvement and overall supply chain optimization. In today’s world, information about a shipment is just as important as the shipment itself, perhaps more so, and IT is the key to providing customers that insight. Being a part of that is truly exciting.
How do you think their solution stands out from others like it on the market?
Our technology plays a big role in why our customers choose AGL over our competition. Specifically, our solutions are customized to meet the unique needs of our customers; not the other way around. That’s truly unique in the logistics world where, despite the fact that every company has unique needs, it’s difficult to find a partner who understands that one size doesn’t fit all.
What has it been like to switch from leading actual logistics operators to a company that focuses on logistics software?
FedEx operates a closed-loop system that provides custodial control of shipments from end-to-end, enabled by information technology, but is a rigid model. The Port of Long Beach provides the physical infrastructure and related operational support needed for multi-modal physical movement of cargo, but doesn’t provide information tools. At AGL, not only do we facilitate the end-to-end movement of our customers’ shipments on a highly reliable basis, we also provide the customized information tools needed to plan, source, monitor, and optimize goods movement from origin to destination. It feels like a very natural progression for me to be now working with a team that has such broad expertise in logistics and marries it with advanced logistics technology to help customers who rely on complex supply chains for their business.
How do you see innovative solutions like AGL’s technology changing the industry?
In a primarily price-focused market like logistics, the ability to control costs and drive efficiencies throughout the value chain is the best way to ensure that growth is sustainable, both for customers and providers. In the case of AGL, we are leading the charge to provide our customers with the full range of solutions that enable optimization of their logistics systems while effectively managing our own internal costs for providing exceptional service.
What are your goals for the company? How would you like to see it grow over the next year?
We need to stay focused on the things that got us here – high performance teamwork, a singular focus on customer satisfaction, and managing growth. In the past few months, we’ve added significant resources in Sales and Marketing and are in the testing phases of our next generation Supply Chain Cloud Solution Suite. Going forward, we will move into new verticals with an expanded range of technology solutions which we believe will drive significant organic growth next year and beyond.