The Executive Team behind Avrio Logistics examine custom-built freight forwarding solutions and the advantages of a customer-first approach
Writer: Phoebe Harper | Project Manager: Tom Cullum
Avrio - a Greek term that literally translates as ‘tomorrow’. Connoting both future promise and a reliable sense of continuity, it is a fitting title for a leading logistics provider that can trace its industrial origins back to the 1920s, whilst also maintaining a position at the forefront of connecting today’s global supply chain ecosystem.
Based in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, Avrio Logistics is led by President and CEO, Michael Mortorano, a successful entrepreneur with 45 years’ experience in in warehousing and logistics. “Born and raised in New Jersey, I remember my father giving me the opportunity to work each summer break with him in his trucking business since I was ten years old, rather than sending me to summer camp to be with my friends. I have been blessed to work in the logistics industry all my life. My family started on the trucking side of the logistics industry. Our daily challenge was making timely deliveries to supermarkets and warehouses because of constant delays in unloading. When I complained to any customer about the congestion on their docks, I received the same response from each of them – ‘if you can do better, than do it!’ I took the challenge personally and came up with my own solution. From this humble beginning Avrio Logistics was born with the strategic intent to serve its customers with intelligent, efficient, reliable and high throughput solutions.”
“We not only see the customer, but we see the customer’s customer, and beyond”
CUSTOMIZATION: THE THREE PILLAR DIFFERENCE
“Our enterprise operating model comprises three foundational pillars that Avrio thrives within, encompassing Avrio Logistics, Advantix Logistics, and Onelink Solution. These are essentially three separate avenues of business that we unite under one operating umbrella.” While these companies stand alone as separate entities, they can also intersect in a complimentary way. “Our business model is designed to help organizations bring their products to market quickly and reliably and to help them address the financial and operational challenges of doing so,” Mortorano explains.
“Avrio Logistics is our global freight forwarding, shipping, and warehousing business that works with companies in apparel, consumer products, consumer electronics, and medical devices as well as other industries. Advantix Logistics has been providing superior labor solutions for warehousing and distribution facilities for nearly three decades. Advantix brings our clients motivated and dependable labor solutions for freight handling, warehouse services, warehouse management, and on-site management.
“Onelink Solution is the third pillar of our operating model, as the financial infrastructure upon which many transactions are based. Not all of our customers use OneLink, but if you’re a small or mid-sized customer trying to compete and you bring us an opportunity where we can help you through financing, that’s the perfect target for us,” Mortorano adds.
A principle that proudly defines Avrio as a Lead Logistics Partner (LLP), 3PL (third-party logistics), freight forwarding, logistics solutions, and financing provider, is the ability to customize their solutions in line with the individual and ever-changing expectations of their customers. “Our industry expertise, customized service and solutions offerings and technologies, enable us to have improved visibility over our customer’s operations, as well as our customer’s customer, and beyond. We specifically gear our offerings and operating model to make our customers successful,” states Bill Lenihan, Vice President of Operations at Avrio Logistics.
This is enabled by the sheer breadth of Avrio’s service, offering unparalleled end-to-end capabilities that permit customization on behalf of both the customer and the company’s own operations.
United in their prioritization of customer experience, the trio of companies exercise the possibility to intersect and overlap as a means to allow unparalleled versatility within supply chain solutions. Mortorano reinforces the customer-centric view that is the driving tenet behind Avrio Logistics. Essentially, it is this prevailing concern for the customer that accounts for the company’s entire operating model.
“The Avrio team invests in understanding our current customers and the strategic and operational challenges and opportunities within their industries. As a service provider, it’s critical for us to understand the specific performance drivers - both for the industry and that specific customer - and asking how they are competing, what their differentiated value proposition is, and how we enable and add to it”, he states.
“As a global freight forwarding company, we’re one of the biggest in the world. We move product all over the globe by sea and by air,” Lenihan comments.
“Being able to provide the freight forwarding business as well as the staffing business, and the logistics business directly, it’s a tremendous set of assets that we bring,” adds Lannie Hann, Vice President of Sales.
A NEW CHALLENGE
A direct driver on the industry-defining advent of e-commerce, is the inescapable coronavirus pandemic. As Lenihan concurs, “COVID-19 drove e-commerce to critical mass, in turn changing the operating model of many companies.”
The aftermath of COVID-19’s impact is yet to be fully realized within the logistics sector. “As a company, we’re taking a wait and see approach, and reacting to what we’re given,” Lenihan comments. “We’re waiting to see how many of the significant changes driven by the pandemic will become sustainable over time.”
In the meantime, Avrio continue to enjoy growth as an end-to-end service provider, in comparison to other companies concerned with a single part of the value chain. At present, the greatest hurdle that Avrio continues to navigate in the wake of the virus, is the worldwide disruption to supply chains and the significant delays suffered therein.
“Notwithstanding Evergreen’s blockage of the Suez Canal, we’ve got a global container shortage – containers are piling up in the US and we need to be able to backfill those to other regions around the world.
“The ongoing delays at major air and sea ports are incredibly frustrating, and a real hardship for anybody working in logistics. Our customers don’t necessarily understand why the container costs have risen so much or why their containers are being bumped, sometimes up to three or four weeks or more. As such, it becomes very difficult for them to run their business, and us ours, when product is not coming in as scheduled,” Lenihan observes.
This is where the differentiated offering of Avrio’s three-pillared solution becomes advantageous, in being able to compete more effectively thanks to their versatile capabilities.
“There are a lot of big players out there, but in many cases they’re full and hyper-selective about what customers they take on - that’s not our operating model. Since we are geared towards the needs of our customers, we can customize this model to fit the needs of those industries that we serve. Through this flexibility, we have been able to truly benefit from an increase in demand,” explains Mortorano.
An industrial context defined equally by both frustration and excitement for freight forwarders across the globe, Avrio faces its own particular set of challenges within North America.
Mortorano adds, “as we look to initiatives like the FPUC (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program), while they’re great programs designed by the Federal Government to help people financially, they can have a detrimental effect on organizations and industries like ours. Many people are taking advantage of those programs and creating staffing problems for us.
“That being said, it is exciting for us to be able to problem solve these issues.”
“Our operating model is built around serving customers so give us the odd ball business, give us the special projects – we thrive in hyper serving our customers”
The aforementioned staffing problems introduced by the pandemic highlight the invaluable workforce that are the backbone of Avrio’s operations. At Avrio, the company culture nurtures community, endorsing a family mentality that unites and incentivizes employees.
“It all starts at the top,” Lenihan comments. “Our CEO has driven a “family business” mindset here.
“Everyone is family and family matters. We are responsible for not only employing, but also caring for and feeding the families that work for us – he (Mortorano) takes that obligation personally.”
As such, Avrio and Advantix dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to upskilling team members, enabling transitions to more fulfilling roles if employees are unsatisfied or seeking to pursue higher ambitions within the company structure. “We help to get people trained, certified, and move them on to a new area of interest,” Lenihan states.
“We don’t look at our people as commodities – they’re assets and we treat them accordingly by providing coaching, mentoring, and continuous skill building,” explains Mortorano.
Thereby, Avrio empowers their staff by enabling them to explore other areas within a low-risk environment. “If somebody’s interested in learning a new skill, we’re not going to punish them for it, we’re going to provide a safety net that allows them to grow,” says Lenihan.
Essentially, cross-training implemented within small teams across the company, means that all team members are equipped with the skills to work across multiple machines, systems and facilities and are therefore familiar with each role within that team. As such, there is the support network in place to ensure that each team member is covered in the event of an unexpected absence. This proved indispensable during the pandemic when flexibility was needed.
Categorized as an essential business, Avrio and Advantix’s operations were able to continue, with the companies implementing car-sharing and cost-offsetting schemes to help instil confidence amongst employees and encourage them to come to work. To ensure employee safety, staff members were also paid as normal for hours missed when leaving work to get vaccinated.
Across the board, Avrio Logistics ensures that company ‘wins’, no matter how big or small, are celebrated- whether that’s a new customer, a particular employee accomplishment or indeed a birthday. As Mortorano comments, “we celebrate because it’s important for people to know that they’re valued.”
On the topic of talent management, Lenihan returns to the experience that he brings to the role. “I have tried to apply the many lessons that I have learned from my experience in consulting and years in the industry into this business. In terms of our retention rate and employee growth rate, it appears to be working.”
The same inclusive, caring mentality evident within their workforce also extends to Avrio Logistics’ supplier and partner relations, where the company prioritizes alignment on core principles, culture, and values.
“It’s not just partnerships across warehouses, it is also our suppliers and customers. We don’t take the word ‘partner’ lightly, it means that we truly connect our operations,” Lenihan adds.
For Lenihan, this translates to a shared strategic vision and objective, with mutual expectations of performance and operating objectives. As the concrete foundation of all Avrio’s supplier relations, cultural alignment is key to enable streamlined partner relations. This in turn leads to the most prized quality within all partner and supplier relations – trust.
“Trust is an outcome, it’s something that’s earned through what we drive in our operating models – flawless execution. This means being good to your word, constantly delivering and exceeding expectations. When you can do that repeatedly, then you earn trust,” Lenihan observes.
Avrio Logistics continually leverages technological advances within the industry to their advantage.
“Although there isn’t much that’s new within the sector in terms of the technology itself, it’s more about how we apply the technology within the context of logistics,” Lenihan states. “For example, having a sound WMS (Warehouse Management System) or OMS (Order Management System), that allows you to communicate efficiently.”
Within the space of supplier and partner relations, Lenihan credits the digital platform ‘Konect2UTM’ as instrumental in streamlining the process of bringing on new suppliers and partners.
“This platform allows us to communicate back and forth with our customers and allows everyone to speak in their native language – whatever format or template they choose to use, whether that’s API (Application Programming Interface) or EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) for example.
“As a universal translator, our system is designed to be nimble, flexible and to accelerate onboarding and MTMM (Mean Time to Making Money).”
The dynamism of the sector-wide changes introduced by the pandemic are complemented by the technological advances within logistics that make it such an exciting space to work in. “The possibilities of advanced technologies and service customization – they are all geared towards market share growth,” he comments. “The middle market space that we focus on, is ripe for such growth.”
There is much anticipation regarding the development of robotics and advanced analytics within the sector, with Lenihan excitedly monitoring the insights that can be gleaned from AI and machine learning. “This will ultimately enable us to become more predictive about demand signals and capacity,” he comments.
At present, Avrio is making technological investments primarily within the field of “e-commerce and omnichannel enablement”, geared towards higher efficiency and throughput.
“In terms of Avrio’s growth, a large part of that is tied to new capabilities around technology, particularly within AI and machine learning to drive new insights and predictive modelling. They’re on our roadmap,” Lenihan adds.
Looking to future tomorrows, times of uncertainty resulting from the pandemic are likely to define the near future within the logistics industry. As such, Avrio is approaching the year ahead with caution and patience.
“We’re waiting to see what the new normal is, but in the meantime, we have certain hypotheses about potential paths forward. For instance, is it likely that ecommerce is going to continue its growth rate? We don’t believe so; it will continue to grow but the slope of the curve will change as people want and need to get back out,” Lenihan muses.
“We will also continue to invest in our network growth through buying assets, expanding our 3PL operations and adding high performing strategic partners,” Mortorano comments.
Drawing to a close, Lenihan returns to the versatility and customer-geared approach that defines Avrio as a leading supplier of logistics solutions, allowing them to cater to an unparalleled variety of businesses, where other companies with a more uniform operating model may fall short.
“We are looking for customer growth in new and innovative spaces. Unlike some of the bigger organizations that optimize around their internal efficiencies, and expect their customers to fit into that model, Avrio thrives on the uniqueness of our customers.
As Lenihan concludes, “we want to serve the underserved.”