Posted On December 12, 2022
“Businesses are built on relationships.”
It’s a generic concept proclaimed at the beginning of every networking luncheon and in the intro to every business book. And while it’s a bit cliché, we’ve also found it to be incredibly true.
Flat World Global Solutions is celebrating one of our longest-running client relationships, one that’s allowed both our company and theirs to grow significantly over the years. When we started working with Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants over a decade ago, they just needed help with LTL shipping out of their St. Louis facility. Today, we store and ship Schaeffer products from Flat World-owned warehouses across the country, including our newest facility in Houston.
Our teams met recently to look back at our shared histories and discuss how far we’ve come.
Big opportunities, data-backed solutions and rapid growth.
Flat World had been working with Schaeffer for a couple of years, streamlining their carrier pickups and shipments in St. Louis, when in 2013 they approached us with a new ask.
We weren’t Schaeffer’s only third-party logistics provider. In fact, Schaeffer was using warehouses owned by multiple 3PLs in various parts of the U.S. But orders going to the southeast United States had long transit times, and customers were turning to other suppliers. Schaeffer wanted Flat World’s help in fixing the issue.
Our team analyzed three years of data and found that a facility in Atlanta could slash transit times. That hypothesis was correct. Packages heading to customers in the southeast decreased from an average of 2.4 days in transit to just 1.3 days—and shipping costs for those packages went down 27%.
A couple years later, Schaeffer approached us about repeating the success.
In 2016, Flat World opened its first warehouse facility, allowing Schaeffer to store products there instead of the carrier facility the company had been using. The warehouse, located in Dallas, allowed Schaeffer to have more carrier options and diversification, and led to an 18% savings in transportation costs for shipments going to Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.
We were on a roll.
Over the next few years, Flat World opened warehouses in Atlanta and Denver, streamlining distribution operations and improving service. We sourced a third-party warehouse in Pittsburgh after Schaeffer outgrew its original space and set up a sort and seg service in St. Louis for its operations here. The result: 12% savings on FedEx Freight rates and a 40% drop in OS&D (over, short and damage) rates out of St. Louis.
This past fall, Flat World opened yet another warehouse, this time in Houston, to house and ship Schaeffer’s marine product inventory and improve on the distribution service and transportation costs offered by their previous partner.
The quantifiable results speak for themselves. But even more than that, Schaeffer is primed for continued growth. Its workflows are more streamlined and quicker shipping times make the company more competitive in the marketplace.
Even better, Schaeffer’s expecting a 10-million-pound increase in shipments in 2023. And Flat World will be there to optimize those shipments.
The secret to our symbiotic success.
Schaeffer’s growth and the needs that followed have allowed Flat World to set up new solutions and grow as a company ourselves.
We attribute that to a few factors.
First: collaboration and transparency. Schaeffer’s team refers to Flat World as an extension of their team. We make sure to share our knowledge and give Schaeffer’s leaders the tools to make the best decisions—not make those decisions for them.
Technology has played a big role, too. Using Flat World’s transportation management system, Schaeffer’s sales team can easily pull up shipping costs and real-time tracking when they’re out in the field (which is sometimes a literal field, when they’re talking to agricultural customers).
Throughout it all, we’ve focused on long-term success, which sometimes trumps short-term wins. When we first set up distribution out of Atlanta, the shift led to a 27% cost savings for Schaeffer. It also meant a 27% cut for Flat World. But we understood the benefit for Schaeffer and knew it could help both of us in the long run.
In short, we’ve prioritized our partnership over profits.
Learning along the way.
Of course, progress always comes with a few growing pains. We’ve worked to learn from every obstacle and take advantage of each opportunity.
Handling Schaeffer’s distribution in so many locations allows Flat World to compare performance and spot any discrepancies. Our goal, for all our clients, is to never have a distinction from packages coming from a Flat World warehouse and the company’s own facilities. The end customer’s experience should be the same no matter what.
Schaeffer’s teams have learned to lean on partners to reach their goals, especially when those goals require niche expertise and resources Schaeffer doesn’t have.
Looking toward the future.
We’re grateful to Schaeffer for being such collaborative, driven partners. With 12 years of partnership under our belts, we’re raising our glasses to another 12. As each new challenge or opportunity arises, we’re primed and ready to tackle them head-on.
Turns out business really is about relationships after all.