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Chris Loonie Vice President, TAG Logistics LLC
Dean Jones Chief Channel Development Officer, AFS Logistics
Brian Fleischman Senior Sales Executive, Elite EXTRA
Brian Gonzalez Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Curri
Matt Lafferty Co-Founder and CEO, Curri

IMARK service providers offer solutions for a challenging supply chain

From nationwide truck and driver shortages to rising fuel and shipping costs and extra fees, the rapid growth of e-commerce and ever-increasing demands for speed to market, the evolving field of logistics has been hit hard by a range of unprecedented challenges over the last two years—a reality which has driven many savvy distributors to re-evaluate their logistics processes in order to enhance efficiency.

Following, experts from four IMARK service providers that specialize in distribution logistics—Tag Logistics, AFS Logistics, Elite EXTRA and Curri—share insights on the logistics challenges and opportunities facing today’s distribution firms and how they can help IMARK members optimize their processes, reduce costs and position for future growth.

TAG Logistics LLC ( Founded in 1998, “we provide services to many of the leading wholesale distribution trade groups and have gained deep insights into the transportation challenges faced by distributors,” shared Vice President Chris Loonie.

While the company’s initial focus years back was on optimizing delivery fleets to meet customer fulfillment expectations cost-effectively, it launched its Legacy Freight Management division in 2003 to offer clients attractive freight rates and support the broad range of distributor transportation needs.


The rising costs of freight, labor, fuel, technology, equipment, real estate, insurance, inventory, paper and returns are challenging, as are current labor shortages among drivers and administrative and warehouse personnel.


“Our approach is simple,” Loonie said. “We start by reviewing a distributor’s transportation system through on-site observation, data analysis and employee interviews to fully understand the company’s transportation process and then make recommendations designed to fulfill the distributor’s customer service requirements at an optimized level. Our aim is to bring a balance of in-house delivery capacity and outsourced market options that position our customers to grow in a cost-effective manner,” he said. “We’ve worked with hundreds of distributors and on average, we can identify savings equal to 1% of their annual sales.”

Distributors are often plagued by outdated, manually-driven delivery and freight management processes and a lack of a clearly articulated transportation policy, training and execution strategies, Loonie said that Tag Logistics can offer the solution through its enhanced inventory and freight management tools, optimized delivery processes and in the training in best supply chain practices that it provides to clients. In the case of one IMARK member they recently worked with, he noted, “we set up a freight recovery model over a decade ago that’s still in place and has saved the client several million dollars.”

“Based on their ERP and processes, we can do a quick, long-distance assessment, although an in-person study is always more effective and complete,” Loonie said of TAG’s onboarding process for new clients. “We also find that if we ask the client what their biggest headache is and focus on that first, we continue to grow together in terms of best practices and bottom-line results. We offer a change that fully supports their vision, culture and service model but which moves the needle enough to create opportunities for growth and savings, all while prioritizing service,” he said.

According to Loonie, the insights Tag Logistics provides to its clients are both eye-opening and strengthening to the bottom line. “Our ability to show the costs involved to deliver a stop on your truck, measure net freight costs as a percent of sales and recover company freight expenses... has enabled us to keep our customers happy for more than 20 years,” he said.

AFS Logistics ( Founded in 1982, “AFS Logistics helps customers manage and mitigate shipping costs,” shared Chief Channel Development Officer Dean Jones of the third-party logistics (3PL) firm, which has eight major locations across the United States and Canada, 380 employees and helps more than 1,800 companies within 35 countries. In late 2021, the company also launched its Cowen/AFS Freight Index, a quarterly index that provides a transportation pricing snapshot across different modes as well as a forward-looking view for the remainder of the quarter based on data from its more than $11 billion in annual transportation transactions.

“Escalating shipping costs, inventory management (especially with the growth of e-commerce) and shipment visibility are three important challenges that shippers must carefully manage,” Jones said. “At the same time, the accounting flow and allocation of shipment costs within the distribution network are always important, especially for branch transfers or movements from distribution centers to branches that approve freight as part of their accrual and profit and loss statement.”

To ensure that they only pay what they should and protect their margins as costs rise, Jones continued, “distributors need strong visibility and analytics that identify each line level of charges and accessorial fees as well as proper general ledger coding of invoices by region, division and branch in a transportation management system (TMS).”

According to Jones, AFS offers those solutions. “We provide freight audit and payment services for parcel, LTL, truckload and international shipments and also support carrier contract negotiations and distribution network optimization,” he said. “The unique size and scale of our freight audit and payment work generates enormous amounts of data that we leverage to optimize parcel and LTL cost management, and our analytics team leverages the power of data to develop customized solutions for each client based on their unique logistics challenges. In addition, our company’s network of engineers and data scientists combine client-specific data and industry insight to provide viable options to clients focusing on feasibility and cost.”

Among their many success stories, “our team recently saved a privately-held industrial distributor more than $1 million in annual shipping costs through benchmarking and analysis of current spending trends, contract evaluation and implementation of a transportation management system for all distribution centers that enabled branch-level autonomy, ultimately enhancing carrier routing, optimizing the selection process and reducing cost.” In another case, he said, AFS saved a national electrical distributor who was facing major challenges controlling shipping costs, managing claims and getting consistent service more than $1 million in total parcel spend in just one year.

“Because each client is so unique, we provide an onboarding process that’s customized to meet them where they are and build a foundation for success,” Jones said, “and we align clients with trusted, vetted carriers so that rates are fair and invoices are submitted in a timely manner. Our processes enable auditing services and detailed reporting which provide a clear picture of their distribution network performance, and they drive client savings as quickly as possible because we’re a contingency-based 3PL focused on results—meaning that if you don’t save money, you don’t pay us anything.”

While current national, global and industry challenges can make it harder than ever for companies to manage their logistics network on their own, “we provide weekly reporting and analytics that support distributors’ efforts to better manage service quality and cost, backed by advanced technology and a team of experienced experts,” Jones concluded. “We’re here to help build efficiencies in the distribution network, improve visibility of shipments in-transit, lower costs and control freight spend.”

Elite EXTRA ( “Elite EXTRA is a last-mile software company which offers industry-leading logistics solutions that streamline operations for distribution and service companies,” shared Senior Sales Executive Brian Fleischman. “We’re extremely proud to have been trusted by over 325,000 users across more than 8,000 locations and our 98% client retention rating speaks volumes about what we do and how we do it. Our innovative suite of logistics solutions helps companies streamline their entire last-mile operation—from optimized routing and tracking to third-party delivery, returns management and more.”

Among the logistics pain points most pressing for distributors today, “the rising costs of freight, labor, fuel, technology, equipment, real estate, insurance, inventory, paper and returns are challenging, as are current labor shortages among drivers and administrative and warehouse personnel,” Fleischman said, noting that distributors’ often limited visibility/insight into measures like order status, delivery status, driver location and route optimization can further undermine efficiency and the ability to make informed decisions.

“However, our advanced last-mile logistics technology and automation solutions increase efficiencies within a company’s fulfillment process to allow them to do more with less, significantly reduce their operational spend and better serve their customers,” he said. “For example, our Routing & Dispatch solution efficiently optimizes routes, automates the dispatch process and provides full operational tracking and visibility to reduce fulfillment cost, while our Delivery Network solution is integrated with a variety of crowdsourced fleets to serve our customers with on-demand delivery options when they need them, and our Returns Automation software helps companies streamline and simplify their reverse logistics operations by tracking returns, automatically applying return policies and providing the option for self-service returns for customers.”

Among successes, “we were recently able to solve a number of challenges in the area of operational visibility for a leading electrical distributor by identifying several process inefficiencies and technology shortcomings that were driving excess cost and limiting visibility,” Fleischman said. “After deploying our advanced last-mile logistics solutions, we were able to help them automate manual processes, maximize the number of stops per route, optimize the number of drivers on routes, cut fuel consumption, expedite billing and better manage returns. They loved how our technology offered seamless integration to multiple business systems within their organization and helped boost revenue and profits.”

After understanding the intricacies of a new customer’s operation, “we assign them a dedicated account manager to assist them throughout the entire onboarding process,” he explained. “The customer is then introduced to our award-winning Customer Experience Center, which operates 24/7 and is there to provide ready access to unlimited free support.”

“Given the headwinds that will be facing distributors for the foreseeable future, it’s critical to take a proactive approach to understanding operational complexities and their associated costs in order to futureproof operations and position for success,” Fleischman said. “A great way to approach that task is to leverage strategic partners like AFS, which have an innate understanding of industry complexities, proven experience in solving logistical problems and the technological aptitude to support the ever-changing needs of your business.”

Curri ( Founded in 2019, Curri is a subscription-free logistics platform that instantly connects distributors to a network of delivery drivers and got its start by taking requests from its platform to deliver construction and industrial materials to contractors in Ventura, California. Curri has since grown to encompass tens of thousands of vehicles nationwide and currently works with thousands of distributors in 49 states.

“Our delivery services give distributors the opportunity to sell more supplies because they’re always able to say ‘yes’ to their customers,” said CEO and Co-Founder Matt Lafferty. “Whether delivery is to a construction jobsite, residential home or commercial building, we’ll get it there and provide a great delivery experience for the distributor’s customers. We also help cut many costs that an in-house fleet takes out of a distributor’s bottom line,” he said, noting that the use of Curri can save customers 30% on operational costs like fleet maintenance and insurance.

Lafferty confirmed that COVID forced distributors to modernize and align with modern solutions such as e-commerce, curbside pick-up and contactless on-site delivery—and that as a result, customers have come to expect faster service than ever. “According to the Capgemini Research Institute, 80% of customers want same-day delivery and are willing to pay more for it and 61% expect products delivered within 1-3 hours of placing an order,” he said. “When distributors can meet these expectations, they’ll achieve more sales and gain customer loyalty.”

Among their most popular services, “customers love the delivery options on our pay-as-you-go platform, including ‘rush,’ ‘same-day’ and ‘scheduled’ as well as the ability to see instant pricing on our platform for vehicles ranging from a car up to a flatbed,” Lafferty said. “Popular delivery features on our logistics platform include live order tracking, driver ETA, pickup and drop-off proof-of-delivery photos, pinpoint locations (for addresses without locations such as new home construction sites), multi-stop deliveries (up to 20 stops) and delivery notifications and history, as well as the support we provide via phone, email and live chat.”

Ultimately, he said, these services help distributors increase sales. “One client of ours recently experienced a 40% jump in delivery requests from customers and a 10% increase in sales thanks to their delivery service, which enabled products to arrive to construction sites and residential homes within a one-hour window of the delivery request.”

In terms of onboarding, “anyone interested in our logistics platform can view it at,” Lafferty said. “Distributors can go through the platform on their own or get a demo from an onboarding manager, which typically takes 15-30 minutes, or they can try out a delivery by signing up for free at”

Lafferty said that distributors are quickly embracing last-mile delivery solutions—the final leg of delivering materials from warehouses and distribution centers to end customers—and encourages IMARK distributors to join the more than 50 other IMARK members who are currently pursuing this opportunity with Curri. “Providers like Curri help distributors expand their delivery radius, create a more personalized customer experience locally and, in the process, secure more sales and better margins by always being able to deliver to customers,” he said.