Behind the Scenes: Logistics

Want to learn more about how our team thinks and operates? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the first edition of our “Behind the Scenes” blog post series. Today, we’ll be talking to Adam Lewak, Operations Manager at JetCo Federal, and will be diving into the details of how our logistics team operates.

Adam Lewak, Operations Manager at JetCo Federal

Vanessa: Can you tell me a little bit about what you do in your role at JetCo Federal?

  • Adam: As the Operations Manager, I monitor all orders in production and consolidate the shipments that go to the same area. Once I have a shipment consolidated and built, I generate government-specific labels, provide the required paperwork, and source a carrier to haul the shipment. Sourcing a carrier requires daily spot negotiations. Once a carrier is secured, I schedule and monitor the shipment, making sure it is picked up and delivered on time.

Vanessa: We often talk about our team tackling complex projects daily and how we don’t shy away from a challenge. Can you talk a little bit more about the approach the logistics team takes to their work?

  • Adam: Our team keeps a daily watch on production and due dates. If there are multiple orders to one area, we typically wait to ship and consolidate those to ride together on the same truck. We utilize as much trailer space as possible, thus lowering freight costs. If due dates do not allow us to wait on production, we make sure to ship via the most effective cost option available. Our team performs in-transit check calls to verify that everything is going smoothly, and our team is always ready to jump into problem-solving mode as soon as we know of any issue.

Vanessa: There is a lot of planning, coordination, and attention to detail to make logistics run smoothly. Part of our logistics team’s role is to ensure our shipments won’t be rejected. Can you talk a little bit about why shipments are rejected, and about what happens when an order is rejected?

  • Adam: Shipments are typically rejected when the primary carrier does not have capacity. This means that the primary carrier does not have any drivers available at that specific date and time, or that there has been a change in national rates and the carrier can get a better pay moving different freight out of the same area. When an order is rejected by the primary first, then it is tendered to the secondary. If the secondary rejects the order, it is offered to the backup carriers on the lane. If it is still rejected, then it will typically end up on a spot market board where approved carriers and brokers can then bid on the shipment. The spot market’s lowest bid wins the shipment.

Vanessa: Another integral part of ensuring our products are delivered on time, every time is the carriers we use. Can you go in-depth on the strict requirements we have for our carriers?

  • Adam: Most of the freight JetCo Federal moves is delivered to U.S. military bases.  For a driver to get onto a base to deliver, he must be a U.S. Citizen carrying a Real ID – a driver’s license with a star in the top right corner, signifying it is accepted as a federal form of identification. The driver must also have a clean background with no criminal history or warrants, a clean driving record, and must have strong attention to detail as delivering to U.S. military bases can have complicated paperwork. Most military bases perform a background check upon arrival, and all of these requirements are in place due to national security.

Since our inception, government agencies have relied on JetCo Federal for the distribution of critically timed, urgent product.  To learn more about JetCo Federal’s logistics services, please visit our logistics and warehousing page.

Ben Hawksford

JetCo Federal Adds Account Coordinator to Team

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH (July 10, 2020) — JetCo Federal, a Grand Rapids-based supply chain management and warehouse supply company, added a full-time employee to their team this month.

Ben Hawksford

Ben Hawksford joins JetCo Federal as an Account Coordinator. In this role, he manages JetCo Federal’s current contracts, order fulfillment, compliance, and customer relations. Hawksford is a graduate of the University of Michigan – Dearborn and has extensive experience in the packaging industry.

Prior to joining the JetCo Federal team, Hawksford worked as an Inside Sales Account Manager at a West Michigan corrugated packaging company. Hawksford stated that he looks forward to, “learning how to successfully manage current and future supply chain business, and to playing a role in JetCo Federal’s growth.”

To learn more about the JetCo Federal team, visit our leadership page.

 

Reliability During Uncertain Times

Over the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the government’s buying methods to shift significantly. Though the traditional buying process is still in place, the government has turned to quicker methods, such as single-sourced non-competed contracts, to help get resources to where they are needed. However, this buying method has its downfalls. The government is struggling to reliably secure critical supplies. Here’s an example.

FEMA and Unusable Testing Kits

In May of 2020, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) awarded a $10.2 million contract to Fillakit LLC, a company that was formed just six days before the contract was awarded. They also had no previous experience working with the government. Fillakit was formed by an ex-telemarketer who has been accused of fraudulent practices over the past two decades. Due to the hasty contract award, Fillakit supplied testing kits to the government. Now, the government has millions of testing kits that are unusable due to unsanitary manufacturing conditions.

Fillakit isn’t the only company that has been awarded a contract without having worked with the government before. A recent Government Executive article states that “federal agencies hastily awarded more than $2 billion in COVID-19 contracts to vendors who had no prior federal deals.” They also stated that “the federal government has committed more than $16 billion to more than 4,000 contractors in its attempt to address the spread of the novel coronavirus. More than 1,800 of those deals were given without competitive bidding.”

As traditional buying methods shift during COVID-19, it’s more important, now than ever, to ensure the government has access to and is working with highly qualified government contractors. Vetting processes need to stay in place to allow the government to reliably secure the critical supplies they need. It all comes back to working with a government contractor who is qualified. So, how do you identify a qualified government contractor?

How to Identify a Qualified Government Contractor

One quality of a highly qualified government contractor is strong past performance. Companies that show they have done similar work to the contract, and in a similar capacity, have the experience and expertise to meet the needs of a contract.

Another quality of a qualified government contractor is compliance processes. If a company is not compliant with their current contracts, the likely won’t be compliant with the upcoming contract. Make sure the contractor has compliance processes in place before awarding them the contract

These are just a few qualities of a qualified government contractor. Though COVID-19 has shifted the government’s buying methods, now more than ever, the government needs to work with highly qualified companies that bring trust and reliability to the table.

JetCo Federal is a supply chain management and warehouse supply company with a successful past performance managing diverse products for complex contracts. Compliance, trust, and efficiency are ingrained into our company, and we’re ready to embrace the challenges that come our way.

Carrie Jokiel of ChemTrack

Woman-Owned Small Business Spotlight: ChemTrack

Welcome to the second edition of our woman-owned small business spotlight series. This edition highlights ChemTrack, an environmental engineering, remediation services, and construction company. The company’s President, Carrie Jokiel, shares her story and advice for other woman-owned small businesses.

Can you provide a brief overview of what ChemTrack does?

ChemTrack is an 8(a) Alaskan Woman-Owned Small Business, specializing in environmental engineering, remediation services, and construction. We combine geological, chemical, hydrological, and engineering expertise with a broad understanding of regulatory and risk frameworks to solve environmental assessment and regulatory compliance problems for our clients. ChemTrack tailors innovative methods and concepts to individual problems and provides environmental solutions, especially as they apply to arctic and subarctic conditions in Alaska.

What inspired you to start ChemTrack?

I’m a born and raised Alaskan woman and second-generation “ChemTrackian.” My mother grew up in bush Alaska, our remote areas, as my grandparents were teachers in the villages. My dad emigrated here from Germany to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks back in the ‘60s. He fell in love with my mom and the spirit of Alaska. Being raised with that same spirit led me to becoming partners with my father and eventually becoming majority owner. We both share the entrepreneurial spirit that comes from the beauty and opportunities this great State has to offer.

That combination of respect and entrepreneurship has created a workforce culture that truly enjoys what we do to prevent negative environmental impacts, restore our remote areas to their original pristine conditions, and work together with our clients that share our passion for the State of Alaska.

What is your proudest moment for ChemTrack?

This summer season is already kicking off to be my proudest moment. I feel like we have arrived.  We have worked incredibly hard to be prepared to have a good season and I see the fruit of that labor happening. We were coming off a tough, stressful season last year, and the resilience my team has shown along with the can-do spirit, has been incredible to witness.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome with ChemTrack?

We had a project go sideways two seasons ago that had a ripple effect into last year’s season as well.  It stressed our company at every level; it pulled my focus away from our strategic plan into survival mode; it affected the crew involved on the project, from the project manager to each laborer.  Amazingly, it also bonded us together. We were all in the trenches together, backs against a wall, and we survived. I wouldn’t wish tough days on any business owner, but the grit my crew showed and what we learned from our challenge has made us a much better company and now, we are poised to thrive.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Listen to the nudges you feel when leading. Realize you are a master of your trade and how you lead may seem unique to the mainstream we are often surrounded by. Know that your intuitiveness matters, and is at its core, how YOU run your company. Basically, you know what you’re doing – keep crushin’ it.

Do you have any suggestions on resources that women-owned small businesses should use?

To keep up on what our government is doing to help women-owned small businesses, get involved in Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP).  If starting out, get to know your PTAC office.  If a federal contractor, get to know your local SBA office personnel.  If you’re a federal contractor and can budget it, use a service like FEDMINE to track and monitor RFPs, competitors, and contracts. Good luck!

To learn more about ChemTrack, visit their website at http://chemtrack.net/.