Representing third-party logistics & warehousing service providers

More and more North American companies are choosing to outsource the logistics and warehousing functions of their businesses. Often, in-house logistics are too complex, too costly and too time-consuming for manufacturers, distributors and retailers that want to use internal resources for other priorities. When you think about it, logistics is more than just one aspect of a larger operation; it’s an industry unto itself, requiring its own set of skills and base of knowledge. It makes sense, then, to leave it up to the experts.

Third-party logistics and warehousing service providers belong to a growing field. And as it gains more recognition as its own profession, logistics continues to carve out a place in the market. Like all industries, logistics need representation from an association to lobby on its behalf, to educate and to facilitate opportunities for growth. Representing the interests of this emerging industry in North American is the United States-based International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA) and its north-of-the-border division, IWLA Canada. To David Long, Executive Director of IWLA Canada, the international nature of the association “is a great example of how the United States and Canada can work together.”

Standing out

Although there are other third-party logistics associations out there, Long says the IWLA stands out for a few reasons. First, the IWLA represents the interests of warehousing and third-party logistics operations in both Canada and the United States. Second, its members include some of the biggest companies on the continent. And finally, the association covers all aspects of the industry. “There is a lot of representation for individual elements of logistics, such as couriering and trucking,” says Long. “But they are just pieces of the puzzle. Some of our members take over all elements of a company’s logistics, not just one part. The IWLA considers the needs of all third-party providers.”

“Our mandate is to elevate the profession and the importance of what our members do for the economy,” Long adds. “If there are issues that affect our members on a government level, we will lobby for their interests. We are the voice of the industry. Our lobbying efforts are particularly strong in the U.S., and that’s a good thing, because some issues start there and filter into Canada. Not everything is transferable, but it’s an advantage to see things ahead of time.”

In Canada, one of IWLA’s current concerns is the imminent Harmonised Sales Tax (HST), which combines GST and PST into a single sales tax. There are questions arising about how it might affect finances and whether exemptions are available in certain circumstances. Another issue is air cargo security and how much trade documentation is being legislated. “We want to pursue security in the country, while maintaining efficiency,” says Long. “When we are introduced to things like eManifest, we try to make sure our interests are protected. We don’t want too much paper work because it slows down the process.”

The IWLA also places significant emphasis on providing educational opportunities to members. “We have a relationship with the Schulich School of Business, in which we are the sole sponsor of the Schulich Executive Education three-day program,” Long explains. “Our members get an advantage by going there, because it’s the best training out there. We also connect with programs offered by our U.S. parent, especially programs about supervisory skills. We are committed to providing a strong, forward-looking educational base for our members.”

Bright horizon

Long believes third-party logistics and warehousing service providers have a lot to look forward to. “It’s a growth industry,” he says. “I say that because a lot of companies out there are increasingly outsourcing their processes and logistics is certainly one of them. The more complicated things get, the more likely it is to be outsourced. I think the industry will continue to grow over the next five years, a decent incremental growth.”

The Benefits of Membership

Expert Legal & Regulatory Advice

• Free oral review of warehouse contracts    
• Advice on warehouse preferential lien    
• Discounted pricing from our retained counsel on warehouse legal work
• Industry-tested warehouse legal forms and documents
• U.S.A. and Canadian subject matter experts on customs, trade, hazardous materials, food security, taxes and pharmaceutical regulations
• Rail Council to provide help and assistance on demurrage, detention, switching and routing issues
• Network of law firms and industry experts to provide specialty warehouse law advice

Business Development & Customer Outreach

• IWLA represents the industry before every major shipper and receiver organization
• IWLA teaches members how to attract the right customers, how to build customer loyalty and how to deepen business relationships with customers
• IWLA uses its scale to advertise our members’ value. In 2008, members received nearly 750 RFI requests through our web-based sales and marketing search engine
• In 2008, nearly 5900 times member websites were visited directly through our web-based sales and marketing search engine

Personnel & Professional Development, Training & Education

• CEO- and C-level conferences
• Entry-level essentials
• Operations & supervisory classes    
• Insurance safety & risk assessment
• Cost & rates setting & RFP responses
• Sales & marketing training
• Information technology
• “Lunch & Learn” supervisory training modules
• Webinars
Government Affairs & Advocacy Protects Your Company & Your Industry

• Industry advocates
• Political Action Committee, Legislative Action Center, Employee training guides, grassroots operation at federal and state level
• Proven success as federal, Canadian, state and local governments

Sharing of Best Practices & Networking

• Weekly e-news
• Regional mini-conferences    
• Issue webinars
• Informal gatherings around scheduled meetings
• Annual Convention
• Legislative alerts
• Annual economic report on the industry
• Special issue-specific industry intelligence

Group Discount Program Through Group Purchasing

• Office supplies
• Propane
• Communication
• Insurance captive    
• Warehouse legal liability
• Health insurance and pension programs