The shipping industry is a complicated one – just ask Stoughton resident Brad Hollister, owner of the fastest-growing company in the country.
It also has plenty of room for improvement, which is where his Madison-based business, SwanLeap, comes in.
The business, 6325 Odana Road, was named the fastest-growing business in the country by Inc. 5000 after the artificial intelligence-fueled shipping logistics company grew from $125,000 in revenue in 2014 to nearly $100 million in 2017, a 75,660 percent gain over a three-year time span.
The key to its success is allowing businesses to find the cheapest way to move their products, using specialized software that weighs variables like the size and volume of the shipment, weather and road conditions, “insulating” businesses from costs related to market changes. Hollister said when companies use the wrong kind of shipping methods for their products, a few dollars wasted on inefficient methods adds up quickly.
“The way that transportation decisions are made is very static, and planned out for a year,” he said. “People just don’t have the tools they need to make automated decisions. The amount of money that we save companies can literally change public company’s earnings.”
Hollister got involved with shipping logistics after working with large trucking companies. He saw the industry from the trucking side, the shipping side and eventually the freight brokerage side, where company representatives work to get their product on different shipments.
In 2013, Hollister started SwanLeap because he saw opportunities for improvement, and to save businesses lots of money.
When companies plan out their transportation needs in increments of one or two years, they typically bid out their shipping contracts and develop a strategy, Hollister said. But that methodology of shipping locks companies into contracts where they may be shipping inefficiently and costing themselves capital.
“The problem is, when you do that, you’re not really listening to the market,” he said. “The market could go high, it could go low, but one thing you can guarantee is if that’s your strategy, you’re always going to be at the high of the market … it’s really a not-transparent practice, and so when even the biggest companies you can think of are planning out their transportation for the year, it’s not a good idea. They need to be able to take advantage of the market.”
Hollister said SwanLeap tends to work with companies who are more progressive in their way of thinking about how shipping should work – he noted that a lot of larger companies are often stubborn and refuse to rethink their shipping method of planning out for a year or two because “this is the way we’ve always done business.”
Because of the strength of that traditional mindset, he said, SwanLeap stands alone in the market of artificial intelligence brokerage – but based on the growth of the company, he’s confident this is the future of shipping.
“For so long, we set out to bring this to the market,” he said. “For us, it’s really a validating experience that what we’re doing is the future, and it is the way the market will work tomorrow.”