Supply Chain Council of European Union |

Constant evolution vital for freight forwarders to stay relevant

Third-party logistics providers must be ready to optimize data, streamline communications and never stop evolving to be successful in today’s marketplace, said Mike Powell, chief technology officer of Chicago-based SEKO Logistics.

“Third-party logistics providers need to figure out who you want to be. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you make one, figure out what you are doing wrong and move on,” Powell said. 

Powell’s discussion, titled “Building a Forwarder in the Middle of the Country,” was part of FreightWaves LIVE in Chicago, which kicked off Nov. 12. The discussion was moderated by FreightWaves maritime market expert Henry Byers.

“At SEKO, we are selling information and data. If you are not doing that right, you are not going to be successful — data is essential for us,” Powell said.

Powell has been leading SEKO in the development of its MySEKO platform, in coordination with SEKO board sponsor and Global Chief Commercial Officer Mark White.

For retailers, the MySEKO platform provides real-time visibility from vendor sourcing to final delivery and offers a customizable, web-based transportation dashboard, giving clients a digital view of the global supply chain process.

“The main thing for SEKO has always been how do we make it easier for our clients. We do that by adapting, always paying attention to consumer demands, which are always changing,” Powell said.  

Powell joined SEKO Logistics as chief technology officer in August 2018. He previously spent four years with SEKO as vice president of information technology. In 2010, Powell was co-founder of a cloud-based logistics software company used by global and domestic third-party logistics companies, trucking companies and brokers.

SEKO was founded in Chicago as a domestic freight forwarder in 1976. Today, the company provides a full range of logistics services and has about 120 offices in 40 countries.

Byers asked Powell how companies in the Midwest can compete with third-party logistics providers on the U.S. East or West coasts.

“Third-party logistics providers are operating in multiple time zones, through multiple cultures, in multiple modes of freight transportation. How do you compete?” Byers asked.

“I don’t think you need to be part of the Port of Los Angeles to scale and be successful,” Powell said. “At SEKO, we are proud of our Midwestern roots, but we have people with global experience, people who know how to work anyplace.”

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