GSC Logistics is expanding its reach with an eye on sustainability and innovation
Consumer expectations continue to rise in a world of increased connectivity and overnight shipping. Drayage and logistics businesses face the same demands despite their operations being more complicated than simply fulfilling e-commerce orders. GSC Logistics, one of the largest drayage companies on the West Coast, is aware of what its clients require and has spent years developing systems to meet their needs.
“The tech expectations and communications expectations are increasing dramatically. Everyone is used to having visibility, so we have to match that,” says Justin Taylor, GSC Logistics’ director of sales operations. Big investments in technology and software — including developing their own proprietary software — have helped the company provide logistics support that keeps companies informed of the location of their freight, whether it’s on the ocean, in the terminal, or traveling from the ship to their yard.
Developing a Green Fleet
At GSC, investing in technology is more than just providing exemplary visibility to its clients, it’s a commitment to constant improvement and looking to the future. Taylor notes, “You always have to look inward, you can never feel like you’ve got it nailed because the technology available continues to get better. If you’re not looking to improve, the possibilities pass you by.”
One possibility that is certainly not passing GSC by is the advent of electric trucking. Nearly four years ago, the logistics company brought the first daily use electric truck to the Port of Oakland and added two more electric trucks to their fleet this year. A partnership with BYD North America, one of the largest manufacturers of electric vehicles in the world, has helped GSC become a pioneer in the adoption of electric trucks by shipping companies and making e-trucks viable for logistics.
GSC Logistics is also heavily involved in the Port of Oakland’s MAQIP (Maritime Air Quality Improvement Plan). The company’s chairman of the board, Andy Garcia, is a co-chair of MAQIP and he and the company have been involved in writing MAQIP’s initiatives. Taylor explains the relationship, “We’ve been involved from the initiatives’ conception through their implementation. Andy’s helped write them, and we as an operation team have come up with programs to help our contracting partners.”
Together with MAQIP, GSC Logistics is working towards a goal of electrifying as much of the Port of Oakland as possible by 2023. Taylor proudly points out, “The biggest thing we’ve done is build the infrastructure in our yard to support electric trucks. We are one of very few in Northern California that have been utilizing electric trucks to do any daily activities. We’re also getting an electric yard hostler to move containers around our yard and warehouse.”
In addition to the work it does at the port, GSC also supports its partners on the road. All operating companies in California and the Pacific Northwest are required to have model year 2008 or newer trucks. GSC has helped its partners upgrade their trucks by putting together grant programs as regulations have been implemented.
Building towards a greener port and adopting electric vehicles is not cheap but it is part of GSC’s overall vision. “The ROI is not realized monetarily at this point. It’s really a matter of reducing our carbon footprint and being able to stay at the forefront of these technologies,” adds Taylor. Of course, such a commitment to sustainability and innovation is attractive to clients and GSC has earned its share of partnerships with companies that share a similar vision and a desire to make a difference.
Growth in the Pacific Northwest
After considerable success operating out of the Port of Oakland, GSC expanded into the Pacific Northwest and the Port of Tacoma Operations Center. In the last year and a half, the Tacoma branch has more than doubled, which is unprecedented growth for a logistics company.
Much of the growth is due to the goodwill of the GSC brand, to the point that its reputation preceded the company when establishing a foothold in the Pacific Northwest. An example of the company’s growth can be seen in its trucking fleet, which started with around 30 trucks but has since ballooned to between 70 and 80 during peak season.
Such rapid growth is not without its challenges, however, as Taylor remembers, “As you add drivers it puts a lot of stress on the operation and the organization to keep up with that growth on the road. It has to be matched in the office and in dispatch and in customer service.” The team had to uproot from its original home in Renton, Wash., and find a larger location at the Port of Tacoma.
Fortunately for the company, as it grew it had a reliable well-established system in place in Oakland which could support the emerging Tacoma branch. Some operations were able to take place remotely and be transferred to new staff as they came on board up north, and the scalable and easily replicated systems in place in the Bay Area were implemented in Washington.
Taylor credits his company’s ability to grow so quickly to its commitment to innovation and constant improvement. Looking back at the time getting the Tacoma operation accustomed to its increasing size, Taylor muses, “It’s been a challenge, but it’s nothing we haven’t done before and we’re looking forward to doing it again.”
A logistics company with a focus on visibility, innovation, and sustainable technology? We have a feeling GSC Logistics will continue to grow — and they’ll be well-prepared for it.