leads the way for yard management services in North America
“If you haven’t outsourced historically, now might be the right time, and we’re probably the right partner for you,” says Lazer Logistics CCO Nick Hannigan.
Enhanced yard management
efficiencies and effectiveness
BOSS Magazine • May 2022
Lazer Logistics sets the bar for managing a yard. The largest provider of yard management solutions in the U.S. and Canada operates more than 500 sites while boasting around 5,000 employees, roughly 2,000 day cabs and spotters, and a fleet of more than 4,000 trailers.
The 25-year-old company specializes in managing manufacturing facilities and distribution centers of all sizes and has an innate ability to keep production flowing in a streamlined and steady manner.
Lazer Logistics provides spotting services – including moving both loaded and empty trailers in and out of dock doors – as well as repositioning, managing, and inventorying customers’ yards.
Founded in 1996 by Wes Newsome alongside his son – and current CEO – Adam Newsome, Lazer Logistics now garners both the national presence and local expertise needed to service the gamut of yard management customers.
Lazer Logistics’ success is not limited to its customers, either; years of proven service specializing in the industry has helped the company’s revenue grow from $50 million 10 years ago to $500 million today.
Nick Hannigan, Lazer Logistics’ chief commercial officer, told BOSS the company’s success can be traced back to its vast scope and proven systems, in addition to its being on the cutting edge of technology in both tractor and gate automation.
“We have a yard management system. So that system, that technology, allows us to track movements. It allows us to prioritize work. It allows us to inventory the yards. And that’s a big differentiator from some of our competitors,” Hannigan said.
The specialized skill set Lazer Logistics provides is also a key differentiator between it and others in the space, which services a niche market the company has grown in both organically and through outside acquisitions.
The company has completed six of the seven acquisitions in its 25-year history within the past two years, which, Hannigan says, has allowed the company to add to a “geographic density” that gives it a significant advantage.
“We’ve got a national presence, but we also have local expertise,” Hannigan said. “So, in a given geography, we may operate 15 to 20 different sites and that allows us to be fungible with our assets and our drivers.”
Hannigan, who calculates the company is about 10 times bigger than the next largest in the space, also attributes Lazer Logistics’ growth to businesses realizing they don’t want, need, or simply don’t have the time to spend maintaining their yards, and decide they could use some outside help.
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That, Hannigan says, is where Lazer Logistics steps in with years of proven ability, success, and the confidence and know-how that comes with it.
“We’re seeing more and more customers who have historically in-sourced that service who are looking at Lazer Logistics and saying, ‘Wow, these guys, they specialize in it. This is their niche. This is what they do and they’re great at it. And we don’t want to do this anymore,’ ” Hannigan said.
Working with Lazer Logistics enables companies with manufacturing facilities and distribution centers to not have to worry about hiring drivers or investing their own capital into managing their yards.
Businesses who also don’t have the data analytics capabilities to manage their yards effectively can feel secure knowing they have outside help that specializes in exactly what they need help with.
“If you haven’t outsourced historically, now might be the right time, and we’re probably the right partner for you,” Hannigan said.
Lazer Logistics is also doing its part to help curb the effects of global warming, by implementing what the company is calling its “Zero Emission Initiative.”
Already the largest provider of electric vehicles in the spotting space, Lazer Logistics has 25 electric vehicles in its fleet and 22 currently in production.
The yard management experts also boast an industry-lowest idle time of 15% for tractors or spotter tractors, considerably lower than the 30 to 40% which is average for the broader industry.
Hannigan attributes Lazer Logistics’ ability to reduce its idling time – and thus, its greenhouse emissions – to software the company has developed in-house over the years.
“We built a cocktail of software solutions that allow us to be cutting edge on fleet maintenance, which reduces downtime, but also allows us to monitor idle time,” he said.
Lazer Logistics is also at the front of the line for advancements in technologies helping improve vehicle automation and other automated services that can help streamline important yard management processes.
In addition to vehicle automation, the company is also focused on how it can use technology to potentially streamline other aspects of a driver’s job, such as hooking up air lines between the tractor and the trailer and opening and closing trailer doors.
“Our next level of investment [with automation] is certainly continuing to pilot and prove out the model. But also, raises questions such as how do we change or enhance what then a driver does?” Hannigan said.
The company also uses automation to improve its preventative care processes and has done so effectively by tailoring software solutions and telematics specifically for its fleet.
According to Hannigan, the company’s software includes onboard diagnostics and is designed to help its vehicles operate “as efficiently as possible.”
Lazer Logistics is working to build automated software which can alert it to not only if a particular vehicle part has gone out, but if the company should expect a part to fail soon, based on a tractor’s age, for example.
“We can really focus on preventative maintenance, and that keeps our tractor life running for longer, which is a real benefit for us,” Hannigan said, “But it’s also a benefit for the customer, because there’s much less downtime on those tractors, which can obviously affect their operations.”
How Lazer Logistics solves problems
Technology is also used to help ensure the safety of both Lazer Logistics’ drivers and fleet, with the company outfitting Lytx cameras on a number of its vehicles so it can see what is going on in real time.
Lazer Logistics is perhaps the only, and certainly the largest, yard management company to have cameras installed on its vehicles, according to Hannigan, who said the technology shows what went wrong and helps avoid future accidents.
“If there is an incident in some capacity, we can go back and do a postmortem on that, then educate our drivers and train them in a more meaningful way,” he said.
Lazer Logistics owes much of its success to partnerships with a variety of companies that have aided its growth. For example, Lazer Logistics is owned by and has an incredibly collaborative working relationship with Harvest Partners. Dickinson Fleet Services, provides outsourced fleet maintenance, which has been essential to Lazer Logistics’ growth. Orange EV has been an integral partner for electric vehicle rollout. For diesel power equipment, Mack Trucks, Kalmar, AutoCar, Cumberland and Nextran USA have provided tremendous value.
A Family Affair
Even while boasting a roughly 5,000-strong workforce, the importance of family and maintaining a tight-knit unit remains at the core of Lazer Logistics’ values.
“We’re all family. So, if you’re here, you are family,” Hannigan said.
Hannigan acknowledges that, as a company grows, it naturally becomes harder for everyone – including ownership – to stay connected in the way a smaller business can.
With this in mind, Hannigan says Lazer Logistics recently embarked on a cultural journey to establish its values and ensure they were living them.
“We want to really define our Lazer Logistics values and we don’t want to create them and then say, ‘Hey, hey, everybody live these values,” he said. “It was much more organic in its approach.”
The company is currently conducting three geographic manager summits to help bring its nearly 300 managers together from around the country, in order for it to communicate to them its core values and objectives.
Ultimately, Hannigan says Lazer Logistics is defined by its “persistence” and “resilience,” which allows the company to continually develop its drivers and managers.
Another core value is, “We keep each other safe,” he said. “And that doesn’t just mean we keep customers safe, but we keep everyone safe. And we don’t just keep ourselves physically safe. We really look out for each other.”
Lazer Logistics’ commitment to family has served it well over the years, but, dating to its humble beginnings, keeping a low profile and growing from within has also kept it from perhaps gaining as much attention as it otherwise would.
Hannigan said that, at least initially, this was intentional, as the company was a family-owned business happy to keep a low profile and not draw attention to themselves.
Now, however, with sales booming and Lazer Logistics growing in size and stature, Hannigan says it is past time for the company to enter the limelight. “I think where we’ve gotten from a scale standpoint is, ‘Hey, we’re here and here are the solutions that we’re providing and come take a look at us.’ ”