June 16, 2020 (Courtesy the Jacksonville Business Journal) Magellan Transport Logistics has managed to grow revenue year over year despite the global pandemic causing volumes to plummet over the past three months.
That didn’t meant that the pandemic wasn’t stressful, however. CEO Tom Piatak said he went from focusing on the big picture to managing day-to-day activities, looking at loads per day and revenue per day.
“Usually, I’m never looking that tactical, I’m looking at the bigger picture: how’s the company doing, what direction we’re going, what new products and services, but it was probably about 45 days of just managing the business day to day and making sure that we could move the freight,” Piatak said.
For the year, Magellan is up 30% on shipments compared to last year and 25% on revenue.
Having a number of military veterans in the organization helped carry out the mission, Piatak said. He said they approached the situation like it was a military operation, to ensure customers would be take care of. They trained with their software and phone vendors on remote work early on and that preparation put them ahead of other companies.
“I think part of it is the veteran aspect that we have here, we do hire quite a few veterans and we have quite a few of them in leadership positions,” Piatak said.
In addition to the preparation, Piatak said they were also ready to make quick decisions. He didn’t want employees getting bogged down in the bureaucracy, so instead of having things “run all the way up the flag pole,” employees had the autonomy to make quick decisions.
The company received a Paycheck Protection Program loan, and while the process was stressful, Piatak commended the work the government put into the program.
“My bank heard quite a bit from me, I was probably the squeaky wheel. But, I don’t think it was their fault. This is a huge piece of legislation that they’re pushing through and they’re doing it in pretty much record time,” Piatak said.
They were in the middle of a remodel when the pandemic hit and over the last 18 months, they had completed a little more than half the renovations of the 47,000 square foot building. It would a tough decision for Piatak, to decide whether to continue renovations or save on the expense.
“We decided it was best to continue with it. I think that was the right decision because it kept people employed, it kept the workers that were doing the remodel engaged and now, we need the additional space for social distancing,” he said.
Piatak said things are steadily increasing now. Volumes are coming back and shipments are climbing day over day. He expects that to continue as they haven’t yet felt the full effect of automotive plant openings and other freight markets.
A month ago, Piatak would have predicted a softer rebound. He didn’t think it would be V-shaped, but now he thinks things will come back faster than he first anticipated.
“It’s coming back a lot quicker than I originally thought,” he said. “I would say probably 60 days from now is when it would be kind of return to normalcy with almost everything back open with normal shipment volumes and normal spending habits by consumers.”
Some takeaways from the pandemic, Piatak said, is the importance of planning. Instead of waiting for disaster to strike or a hurricane to hit, he wants the company prepared for what might occur and to continue working.
“I think it’s something that we can train on monthly, having an ongoing training to make sure we’re completely prepared from a communication standpoint, software standpoint, decision-making point,” Piatak added.