Here’s a problem faced by many small-to-medium-sized polymer enterprises (SMEs) – How to ship a less-than-a-truckload (LTL) lot for a reasonable cost. Many such SMEs approach shippers and ask for a discount. Usually, they get a reduction from the standard quote, and it might even be as high as 70 percent. While this sounds good, for smaller producers and manufacturers, even that shipping rate could be a rather pricey item.
Thanks to a new program available to PolymerOhio member companies, an even higher discount is now available for LTL loads. N. Eugene (Gene) Graves, Executive Director of the United Shippers Alliance (USA)
, a nonprofit shippers organization, based in central Ohio, said, “Our program for LTL shippers is arranged with UPS Freight for nationwide coverage and should be most competitive for SMEs with smaller annual LTL activity.”
By negotiating directly with carriers, Graves said, “Our agreement boosts that percentage up to 83 percent, and we are now offering this program to polymer companies that are PolymerOhio members.”
The USA initiative is tailored to help the SMEs in Ohio area or other locations in the United States and Canada. “We do the volume negotiations and get things the SME can’t get,” said Graves. He said that USA has worked closely with PolymerOhio in recent weeks to streamline the process for joining USA and thus help polymer SMEs to qualify for the deeper-discount shipping. Smaller companies often do only a few shipments per week, and these shipments are LTLs. If their LTL total is $60,000/yr. or more, then USA has a different program for them.
“Normally, USA requires companies that join our Association to complete a membership application,” said Graves. “For PolymerOhio companies, we have worked out a simplified application process. These companies only need to fill out a letter of authorization and company survey to help us know who to contact and figure out if they have other needs,” said Graves. Companies that join USA through the PolymerOhio program will not be required to guarantee any minimum shipping amounts over a defined time period.
Additionally, USA collaborates with Summit Consortia, an agent to many nonprofit organizations. Through this arrangement, SMEs can also be set up to take advantage of other discount programs, such as for office supplies, temporary employment agencies, and so on.
Shipper associations are non-profit membership cooperatives that negotiate domestic or international
pricing for the movement of members’ cargo. They are a means by which the small- and medium-sized shipper, and even the large shipper, can obtain economies of scale without the markups charged by other transportation intermediaries who perform consolidation services in order to obtain volume discounts. Shippers’ associations allow multiple shippers to pool their volumes in order to leverage greater LTL discounts and competitive ocean pricing. With the larger shipment volume, the shippers’ association can negotiate LTL volume discounts or ocean service contracts on behalf of its members.
United Shippers’ Alliance (USA), originally the Greater Columbus Shipping Association, was formed in 1996 to serve the Columbus, OH area shipping community, but has expanded across the State of Ohio and around the U.S. Its single focus is to negotiate competitive pricing in master transportation contracts on behalf of its shipper-members. USA is active in the American Institute for Shipper Associations (AISA), Columbus Chamber of Commerce, and the Columbus Region Logistics Council. USA offers both an export/import ocean full container load (FCL) and domestic/Canadian less-than-truckload (LTL) program. USA shipper-members did about $80,000,000 volume last year under USA contracts. USA is governed by nine companies, whose representatives form the organization’s directors. Shipper members currently include approximately 130 companies. See www.unitedshippers.org.
PolymerOhio, Inc. is a polymer industry-specific Ohio Edison Technology Center, which is funded by the Ohio Economic Development Agency. PolymerOhio focuses on enhancing the global competitiveness of the polymer industry, including companies from the plastics, rubber, bioproducts, and advanced materials segments. PolymerOhio provides a broad range of value-added programs and services to its members and Ohio’s polymer industry. PolymerOhio resources reflect a deep understanding of the polymer materials and processes and the products derived from these materials. For more information, go to http://www.polymerohio.org.