FlagShip Courier Solutions
Howard Kruger, founder and president of FlagShip, has been in the courier industry since his mid 20s and he’s launched his first business in 1985. But Kruger sold this business in 2000, because he had a greater vision in mind—a courier service that would make a difference for small businesses across Canada. Launched in 2005, FlagShip is a different kind of enterprise. It is a technology-based service that aims at impeccable customer service and a global reach. Kruger’s vision was not to create just another freight company but a technology-based courier solutions company built on strong relationships, integrity and exceptional service that its employees can take pride in.
The Canadian Business Journal spoke with Kruger about the freight and courier industry and about what FlagShip does differently, and how it remained on the PROFIT 500 list for the past four years.
“We believe everyone deserves exceptional service; whether personal customer service, technology service or the best of delivery service,” says Kruger. “Over the past 12 years, we have grown, innovated and modified our systems, and today we are a serious player in the industry with state-of-the-art technology and immaculate service.
“At the core, we are an authorized reseller of courier services – namely Purolator, UPS and FedEx – but our vision is far greater than that. When I started FlagShip, I knew there was an important business segment that we could penetrate. We see ourselves as an extension of the couriers we have relationships with, providing shipping solutions for small-to-medium sized enterprises and our goal is to create a win-win-win situation for our couriers, customers and FlagShip. There is so much value-add to both the couriers and customers when utilizing FlagShip.”
The genius is in the simplicity of the vision. By aggregating the customer orders, FlagShip brings these national couriers bulk business from the SMEs, and SMEs can take advantage of being treated as a larger company in terms of FlagShip’s industry knowledge, digital technology integration, customer service and lower shipping costs. “We bring these smaller accounts to the couriers, and the couriers only need to deal with us and not our customers. We manage thousands of these customers billing processes as well as all their customer service issues and requests while the couriers have only one point of contact—FlagShip. This is a value–add as well as a win for the couriers and the clients,” says Kruger. “But before we agree to take on a client, we go through a vetting process, so that we won’t take business away from our couriers that doesn’t fit our niche market. We are very cognizant of that aspect.”
The FlagShip market is the small volume shipper who really needs hands-on expertise at the shipping end of their business, and Kruger finds great satisfaction in finding solutions for these customers by helping them solve issues and finding the right shipping solution. “We are not just in a shipping business; we are in a service business. We strive to provide the absolute best service so our clients can get back to what they do best—running their businesses. We take the utmost pride in customer care. We are also very clear on understanding the value of what we bring to the client and how we need to treat the client. This is our core value and part of the FlagShip identity. It’s all about saving the client time, energy and money and getting the job done. We tell our clients: ‘Lean on us, we are here for you.’”
Kruger prizes relationships above all. So much so that his sons Josh and David chose to join the business seven years ago. They are core members of the FlagShip team along with long time employee Denise Girouard, working together with all their employees to give their clients an excellent customer experience.
And if strong relationships are the heart of FlagShip, the FlagShip technology is its bones. Technology is what bridges together the present and the future, and it’s one of the company’s core strengths. The FlagShip online shipping system provides customers with shipping options from all affiliated couriers, including best price and delivery timeframes. Once the customer chooses the best option, the system instantly relays the information directly to the courier, the courier provides the customer with shipping requirements, compliant shipping labels and documentation, pick-up times with automated pickups, and the customer can track their shipments in real time.
FlagShip continuously expands and streamlines its digital systems integration, and creates seamless technology solution for customers, couriers and the company itself. For example, as e-commerce has been growing exponentially over the past decade, the FlagShip solutions also support direct system integration with customers’ e-stores. This is done by integration with e-commerce platforms of Shopify and WooCommerce, and the clients can rest assured that once one of their customers purchases a product, the FlagShip shipping process is launched automatically and seamlessly through the e-store backend.
“The technology is at the heart of FlagShip, and it is what drives our progress. We continuously develop and upgrade our systems. Looking back at our original technology solution, and seeing what we have developed and accomplished since, in my opinion our shipping system is state-of-art, and looking at the ideas coming out of our IT department, our future has never been brighter,” says Kruger.
With their finger on the pulse of the freight industry and paving the digital superhighways within the courier industry, FlagShip made the PROFIT 500 list of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies for the past four years. And while the company takes tremendous pride in this, Kruger keeps a sober view of growth. “It’s not about how fast you grow. It’s also about how well you grow. We have to grow in a way that all of our stakeholders win. We have to grow so our courier partners win, so our customers win, and that FlagShip and our employees win. That’s what I call the ultimate achievement. To me, to have a successful company is to have satisfied and passionate employees. They are a big part of the success, and it’s important they feel it as well. Yes, we are known for our customer service and our innovation, but it all starts with the team. We have a great future ahead of us, we have a lot of projects in the pipeline, and as long as we keep the win-win-win mindset, I am confident we will achieve it all,” concluded Kruger.