Founded in 2005 as an asset-based carrier with its own fleet of trucks, One Horn Transportation changed course five years ago to become a transportation broker providing IT, billing and other back-office support to agents who arrange for the delivery of goods — from steel to produce — across the United States. That shift of gears has helped it grow fivefold since.
Rather than growing by racking up miles, One Horn's volume grows as new agents come on board and existing agents do more business, said CEO Cheryl Biron. Now, its 20 transportation agents hire trucking firms to make deliveries for shippers; One Horn handles the money, bills the shippers, and pays the trucking firms and the agents.
The brokerage business model is not without its risks. "The agents can come to us with a book of business, and they can leave with a book of business," Biron said. "So we decided it was really incumbent on us to make working with One Horn so attractive that they would not want to leave."
Biron said her husband has both a computer and business background, and developed proprietary transportation management software, Stratebo, "that enables the agents to handle many more loads than they normally could handle." Agents use Stratebo to locate a trucking company and manage shipments. From their computer screens, the agents identify the customer, enter the pertinent details, "and with a click, we send the contract out. So basically, we are completely paperless."
Biron said the agents use the software to communicate with the trucking companies and the shippers. "It is a management system that enables the agents to very easily book and follow their loads, and enables us to bill very efficiently."
When One Horn had its own fleet, Biron would cold-call shippers and try to persuade them to use her trucking company. Now, she can bring in agents who already have shipping customers.
"We want to hire agents that have large books of business, and then offer them things like our 'accelerator' program, where we give them a lot of close attention to really help them figure out how to grow their business," Biron said. She said the company used to get flooded with phone calls from trucking companies making sure One Horn had received its invoices. Rather than hire a staff to answer phones, the company programmed its system to proactively send out a notice every time the company receives an invoice.
"We are improving our operational efficiency on all levels: we just automate the heck out of everything," she said.
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