Since 1978, the Transportation Intermediaries Association has been providing resources, education and advocacy to third-party logistics companies of all sizes. Today TIA is made up of 1,600 member companies, most of which are small, family-owned businesses. Trucker Tools recently had the good fortune to host a webinar entitled “A Conversation with TIA’s Anne Reinke.” In the webinar, Reinke, who is TIA’s President and CEO, spoke with Prasad Gollapalli, Trucker Tools’ Founder and CEO, about the role of TIA and the benefits the organization offers brokers and 3PLs. The pair also discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted public perception of freight brokers, as well as how the logistics industry continues to evolve.

Read on to learn more about Trucker Tools’ fireside chat with TIA’s President and CEO Anne Reinke.

TIA: A Voice for Freight Brokers and 3PLs

TIA is a member association made up of small “Mom and Pop” freight broker and 3PL businesses, as well as mid-sized and large multi-million-dollar companies. According to Reinke, TIA serves its members in four distinct areas: advocacy, education, networking and resources. TIA offers broker success courses and 15 other courses designed to keep brokers and 3PLs up to date on new advances within the industry. These courses teach brokers and 3PLs how to be successful and help them understand niche opportunities that exist within the industry, as well. The organization hosts several meetings each year that include educational sessions, featured speakers and networking events. TIA also serves as the voice for brokers and 3PLs when it comes to communicating with law makers and dealing with regulatory changes that impact the transportation industry. 

“There is a critical need is to have a presence in Washington D.C. because our members won’t be represented otherwise,” said Reinke. “How can you expect 535 members of Congress to understand our industry if we’re not there explaining it? We need to be the voice for the 3PL industry in Washington. We have a team that does an excellent job of either defending our interests or proactively providing legislative solutions.”

“There is a critical need is to have a presence in Washington D.C. because our members won’t be represented otherwise,” said Reinke. “How can you expect 535 members of Congress to understand our industry if we’re not there explaining it? We need to be the voice for the 3PL industry in Washington. We have a team that does an excellent job of either defending our interests or proactively providing legislative solutions.”

How the Pandemic Has Put a Spotlight on Freight Brokers and the Supply Chain

During the webinar, Reinke spoke about how the pandemic has provided an education of sorts for consumers on how important supply chains are and the significant role that brokers and 3PLs play in the U.S. economy. 

“The pandemic has illuminated the role of the 3PL industry and of the broker,” said Reinke. “You don’t want to have a pandemic to make that happen, but what that means is that there’s actually an understanding that the 3PL industry and the brokerage industry are the center of the supply chain. We are the consummate connector of the shipper on the one side, those who are producing goods, and the carrier on the other side, whether it be a truck, a train or an ocean-going vessel. We have about a $218 billion economic impact on the economy and employ nationwide more than 150,000 people. These folks working in 3PLs and freight broker businesses, who many people didn’t know about until last year, are trying to make transportation more efficient. They’re trying to make transportation safe and ethical, and essentially bringing costs down by driving these efficiencies through technology and through relationships.”

An Evolving Industry Driven by Technology

Reinke noted during the webinar how critical the role of freight brokers and 3PLs has become over the last 20 years, going from a relatively small, unknown segment of the transportation sector to becoming an integral part of supply chains. The number of broker and logistics businesses has grown significantly over the last two decades. Reinke contends that fragmentation of the carrier market, higher demand for freight and low barriers to entry have all played a role in increasing the need for and number of freight brokers and 3PLs. 

Part of the evolution of the industry includes leveraging the latest technology to operate with greater efficiency, remain competitive and achieve greater scalability. Reinke sees TIA as an important technology resource for brokers and 3PLs who may need assistance with understanding how certain technologies can help them solve specific problems in their businesses.

“Technology can be tricky, particularly for those of our members who are smaller who are just starting out because they don’t necessarily have access to the same resources that fully scaled, larger companies do,” Reinke shared. “We provide education for our members, for example an hour long session about a tool that you may not know about that we want to educate you about, and that may address a problem you’re having. We have webinars every week to expand the solutions that brokers and 3PLs have to fix the problems they’re encountering. Through our Director’s Circle, you also can connect with technology vendors to understand exactly what they provide.”

“Technology can be tricky, particularly for those of our members who are smaller who are just starting out because they don’t necessarily have access to the same resources that fully scaled, larger companies do,” Reinke shared. “We provide education for our members, for example an hour long session about a tool that you may not know about that we want to educate you about, and that may address a problem you’re having. We have webinars every week to expand the solutions that brokers and 3PLs have to fix the problems they’re encountering. Through our Director’s Circle, you also can connect with technology vendors to understand exactly what they provide.”

Reinke said that TIA will be hosting a technology-focused conference, 3PLXTEND HYBRID XPERIENCE, on October 21st and 22nd in San Antonio. 

“It’s dedicated solely to technology and to possible solutions,” Reinke shared. “Our expo is for our members who want to showcase their potential solutions and for those members who are trying to figure out, for example, how to achieve greater efficiency, automate some processes and foster better relationships with carriers and shippers. We strongly urge people to attend.”

For the rest of our conversation with Anne Reinke, watch “A Conversation with TIA’s Anne Reinke” on demand.