In today's fast-paced global economy, logistics plays a critical role in ensuring the smooth movement of goods and materials across supply chains. Modern trends are inspiring rapid transformations and innovative solutions for the industry’s biggest challenges. In this episode of Get Linked, Senior Regional Business Development Director Joseph Soliz gets us up-to-date with the current state of the logistics industry, sitting down to explain the problems they’re facing and how they’re choosing to deal with them.
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Carson: Welcome back everyone to our Link Labs podcast, Get linked. I'm your host Carson Garner, and we've got a great episode for you today. My guest today is logistics industry veteran, Joseph Soliz. Joe is our Senior Regional Business Development Director, who I personally get to work with very closely on a daily basis here at Link Labs. So I'm super excited to have Joe hop on this podcast episode so we can learn more from him and grow through his knowledge in this industry. On today's episode, Joe and I will be discussing the current state of the logistics and trucking industry, challenges that the industry is currently facing, as well as, a few ways that these companies can overcome these challenges. So Joe, thank you so much for joining me today and welcome to the Get Linked podcast.
Joseph: Hey, thank you so much for having me, Carson. I'm very excited. Very excited to be part of the team and really help unify and help grow this business. It's very exciting what you guys are doing here at Link Labs and I'm pumped to be on your podcast, man.
Carson: Joe. It feels like I've been waiting forever to have Joe the show on the podcast.
Joseph: And I'm sure everyone who sees this is gonna be like it's Joe the show! Yeah. No, I'm very excited, man. I'm pumped and the energy here and the culture here is just amazing. So I'm excited. You're doing good things with the podcast, man. I love this podcast. Episode 17 is here so I went back and watched a couple episodes. You have some good info for the viewers. If you don't start at 17, start at one, lead up to 17.
Carson: Man, it's hard to believe that we're already on episode 17. It flies by, it's crazy. This year has flown by.
Joseph: All the great knowledge and sharing that all episodes bring, it's a good educational podcast.
Carson: Yeah, yeah. So, you've been in the logistics and trucking industry for quite some time, and I'm not calling you old, I'm just calling you experienced. Could you share a little bit about yourself and your experience in the industry?
Joseph: Yeah, absolutely. So I've been in the industry almost two decades, starting in 2004. Believe it or not, I had just finished the fire academy, so I always say you don't really fall into transportation or logistics, it finds you, right? And so I had just finished my EMT and was on the waitlist for Phoenix Fire Department when a company that provides way station bypassing and tolling services reached out and I said, hey, this is a really good opportunity. What is it in? It's in logistics. And that kind of set my career and set the tone from then on. I've been in the industry again, two decades. I have had many different roles in my two decades from software development, to solutions architecting, to building and helping build mobile applications and our analytics platforms at my previous employer. So just always a different hat almost, it seemed like in the two decades. So I've never been in one space. I was in the technical space and then, you know, moved into more of the business side of things and business development where I really took flight on, you know, negotiating contracts and, developing partnerships in the industry. But that was the great front-facing point of it of meeting new partners, meeting new industry folks, connecting and telling them about our services and kind of carry that on here to Link Labs is doing the same thing, really educating them on what Link Labs does and what we're doing and where Joe went after two decades. So it's been very exciting, but yeah, just two decades of networking and in this space. I've seen it from 20 years ago to today and where things are moving. So it's pretty interesting.
Carson: And it's so cool to be part of an industry that has such a good network, you know, going to all these different trade shows with everybody, like we said, you're Joe the show, you know, everybody. And that's just such a cool thing to have.
Joseph: It really is. It's such a close, tight group in the trucking industry. And it's once you start meeting people, it's like everyone has each other's back no matter what.
Carson: It's a good ole boys club
Joseph: You know, it really is. And it's about, you know, the camaraderie of hey, let's work together in some sort of fashion or hey, you know, I'm looking for someone at this job, you know, so it's just a tight network that starts as a friendship and then it's business second it seems like. But yeah, it's such a great community and I'm blessed to have been in it for 20 years.
Carson: Yeah, yeah. I did not know that you were an EMT.
Joseph: I am, yeah, certified and you know, I had finished playing college baseball and went into the fire Academy and transportation called my name. It went a whole different direction. So it's pretty funny. Like I said, you know, you don't find it, it finds you and I have had a 20 year career so far.
Carson: So what is going on with all these baseball players? We just had Michael Allen from Rampart Industrial in our last episode. And he was talking about how he played college baseball too. So we got a bunch of baseball players on this podcast.
Joseph: I'm telling you, it's the thing, man. It's life.
Carson: Yeah. So since you've been involved in the industry for a while, and I know I'm saying it again, but I wanted to ask you a few things, you know, about the different trends that are going on currently. I'm gonna kind of open the floor up to you to, you know, kind of talk on that subject and just teach our listeners a little bit more about that.
Joseph: Yeah, it's a pretty interesting time, you know. We live in a time of technology and the evolution of the vehicle itself, especially the autonomous vehicle. That's been the biggest conversation of self-driving trucks. We have companies out there already piloting these AV trucks with the driver, but they're fully autonomous driving themselves. And it's just pretty amazing to see. where we were to where we're at now. And just the electrification of vehicles, the EV side of things, I think there was a growth projection of 45 million EV trucks in 2025, which is a huge number, right? And it's like everyone even today in fleets are already planning for their electric future. I think there will be a lot that are receiving by the end of 2023 their first batch of electric vehicles and semi-trucks, you know, again, for sustainability purposes in the experience and then cost of ownership, you know, so it has its benefits, but, always look at the sides of it, right? There's always the cons. Side effects. Right, so it's always the, you know, electrification gaps, charging infrastructure, you know, do we have, you know, what's the price that they're going to charge. Like right now you have access to every gas station on the highway,, loves and all the truck stops, you know, now you're talking about, do they have a charging infrastructure for them to accommodate for this growth of vehicles? You know, what does that charge price look like? You know, is it different during peak hours? You know, so there's so many pros and cons to it, but it's an exciting time because you get to witness the evolution of it. So, and then obviously blockchain technology has been the FOMO, fear of missing out, for a time now and people are trying to adopt it. But you know the purpose of blockchain and logistics is that it creates that trust factor, I guess the transparent and secure trust factor in logistics. It's really cool. It's some interesting things when you just look at the evolution of a company itself, on how they do day-to-day operations. Just the adoption of technology into their fleet, into their vehicles, drivers being able to adopt and absorb that technology and use it to maximize that efficiency is key. So, it's just the evolution of it, man.
Carson: Have you found that a lot of these companies are open to integrating with some type of… or the evolution of technology, are they open to it, or do a lot of them have hesitations?
Joseph: Mostly open, but it also depends on the ROI, right? So when you look at a trucking outfit itself, their bottom line is already so small, and then you're telling them to say, hey, buy my product and it costs this much, but again, bottom line, they're already making low margins. So, you know, how is this gonna impact me? Is the impact of this tool gonna benefit me and increase my bottom line? That's kind of the sense of it. So it's really about the technology itself and the proof. If it really does help them maximize that efficiency and then mitigate that risk all day they'll absorb it, you know, because for them at the end of the day, they make more money because they are really maximizing their time or how things are communicating tool sets, you know. ELDs was a big one over the last few years and, you know, it was a big uproar, but now it's like, okay, now I can kind of control the logging hours and the driving hours from a safety standpoint. So it's just kind of in the pitch and the proof of what your product does. And being able to back that up.
Carson: Yeah, yeah. So you would say that the most impactful trend for the logistics industry is the digitization of trucks and trucking?
Joseph: Correct, yeah, just the evolution and adoption of it. You know, when you think about it, if you even look at a truck today, it's changed so much from when you had the old school. If you go to the polish and ride shows, you'll see these old school trucks that actually have stick shifts and now today you get into a very modernized vehicle. It's a push button like everything else. It has a P for park, a D for drive. You know, there's no manual operation. The truck is doing all the work for you. And then seeing in the future tying that into the autonomous side again, you know, there's so many questions about things. And it's like, where does the driver fit in. “I am now the pilot of this plane, but the machine is doing all the work,” you know? So it's very exciting. I mean, it's like watching the pager to the iPhone, you know, kind of my area of things. You see this evolution of tech kind of impacts the industry. So it's awesome.
Carson: And it's kind of bittersweet, right? Cause you know, those were like the people were so into that. You know, we talked about that a few episodes back of how, you know, with Tripp and Michelle of how people were so interested in Blockbuster and how awesome Blockbuster was back in the day until Netflix came and stole the show. So it's like a bittersweet feeling, right?
Joseph: It really is.
Carson: But I know things aren't always better roses, especially in logistics. What are a few challenges that companies face, you know, especially nowadays with this organization?
Joseph: Yeah, you know, there's just so many, you know, and one company did a really good job of consolidating these pain points and really educating people in the industry about the challenges. But I think their top four challenges and it's consistent. It's a few, number one, I think with fuel prices this year with the constant raise in fuel and price to go up. And then obviously when you start thinking about the trucking and the trucking outfits, it comes to the drivers and there's a driver shortage. I think right now in 2023, there's about 80,000 truck driver shortages. And then the record was in 2020 during the COVID period, post COVID, which was like 81,000. So truck drivers need it. There's programs out there that are really trying to really drive drivers and young individuals that are maybe coming out of high school or coming out of college and really kind of motivate them to see that, you know, the benefit of being a truck drivers, you're kind of creating your own business, or you become part of a trucking family, and make some really good money at the same time. You know, and then you know, another issue with just some of it that you know, this is what another one that kind of can be helped with that technology aspect of it is detention and delay at customer facilities. Where's the insight? You know, why are they being delayed? You know, does a warehouse really communicate with shippers and all these good things? And there's so much delay because again, if I am paid by my own guy or getting paid by a load driver, the impact of my truck and trailer sitting here is very impactful. Then that means I can't go get my next load and start making some more money. So, and this is where the evolution of adopting technology really kind of starts helping in some of these areas. Now, not necessarily from the fuel side of the driver shortage, but really kind of helping maximize that delay and maximizing the efficiency on how you run your outfit. It's important. And now we have the capability in our hands with some of the tech that's out there.
Carson: Yeah. So you mentioned four ways. What are some ways that companies are addressing these issues?
Joseph: Yeah. I mean, I think really, to be honest, is really adopting the technology that improves their overall transportation efficiency. From their fleet, from just tools that will help mitigate the risk, tools that will help them maximize their efficiency. You know. Whether it's a fuel consumption program or a logging or a bypassing, whether it's a trailer tracking and insight kind of tool, when you start combining these things into an ecosystem, the ROI starts combining together and really creates an increase for their bottom line. Even now with some of the traffic congestion, there's higher delivery costs. All these things they have to upcharge because of the resources that they're using when you start helping mitigate that and maximizing that little ecosystem that they created, then prices for them start going down, right? So yeah, it's really, I feel like it's truly the adoption and the welcoming of the technology.
Carson: How would you say that the challenges and the technological solutions that you talked about are affecting the direction of the logistics industry as a whole?
Joseph: You know, I think just the impact that IoT technology has and manufacturers have in tech, really helping users and fleets mitigate that risk is huge. I think at this point in time, IoT technology is just booming, booming, booming, booming with creating and helping use cases with industry folks, whether it's a technology partner, whether it's a last mile hauler, whether it's a coast to coast long hauler. It's the adoption and where IoT stands today and the benefits that it provides is making such a big impact. And all you're gonna see this do in IoT is just grow. It's just gonna have this continuous growth in the industry and market. And not only for trucking. I mean, when you think about logistics as a whole in its journey, right? So I have this analogy I always use is, you know, with blockchain, it was like, where did the mango come from? Well, for us, it's where did the freight come from? You know, did it get into this warehouse? Did it get loaded on this plane? And then did it get put on a truck and then did it get shipped to the receiver? You know, what does that journey look like? And how do you really maximize tools and make that more efficient with actionable data, you know, and that's kind of one of the biggest things is actionable insight.
Carson: Yeah, and the best part about this, I think, is that Link Labs is at the forefront of IoT technology. We have the best engineers, we have the best team that's building the best solutions to, you know, enhance these challenges and help companies with their problems. What do you see specifically with Link Labs and the future of trucking in the logistics industry?
Joseph: Yeah, absolutely. When I think of Link Labs, I think actionable insight, I think mitigation of risk and maximizing efficiency. And you'll hear me say those words because I truly believe that's kind of the appeal that drew me to Link Labs. Again, I was with my previous employer in logistics for 20 years. And when I saw what you guys were doing here, I felt like passion reignited in my system. And it's like, man, these guys are doing some really cool things. And I don't know if they know what else they can do. Like there's just, there's so much that can be expanded here in the logistics realm of things. And with that, even the other day I read an article and they're like, wow, I'm glad that Link Labs exists. You know, I read an article and I think CCJ put it out with a cargo net. And it said in the first 20 weeks of 2023 there have been more than 900 reports of theft and fraud. In the first 20 weeks. And basically it was a 41% increase from 2022. And I'm like, whoa, what's happening here? Is it the visibility? Like what's missing in this scenario? What's happening in the scenario? And then I connect Link Labs with it. And it's like, well, wait, I have not only cargo asset visibility, trailer visibility, but now you're starting to connect these things that the capabilities that Link Labs can provide is really connecting these ecosystems to talk to each other with assets that are kind of digital linking together saying, I'm connected to, hey, cargo, I'm cargo, I'm connected to trailer, hey, trailer, connected to truck, hey, truck, I'm connected to this driver. And it is moving as a unit. And anything that happens to any of them creates an actionable insight. You know, if the door is open and there's a attempt of theft after late night hours or such things as, you know, business operation closing at six, but then a trailer tracker goes off at 10 o'clock at night, you know, it's not a business thing if you know your operation closes at, you know, 10 o'clock at night. So we are able to provide insight to some of those things. And again, I go back to help mitigate that risk and uncertainty really plays a pivotal part in the ROI there. Like when you look at what we do, it's very interesting. It gets really exciting. And it's not just one aspect. It's, you know, the great thing about Link Labs is we track anything. We track assets. You know, whether it's a yard or tools in the yard of the trucking facility, yard management of just the facility itself. You're almost treating that as a smart yard infrastructure. And that's one of the great things about Link Labs is, they're one of the only companies that does indoor and outdoor asset tracking. So you're starting to interconnect trucks leaving from my yard, but I'm the smart yard now seeing visibility of the trucks in and out. But now the truck itself is going in and out and has its own insight. So being able to interlink these two ecosystems is just exciting, you know.
Carson: The possibilities are endless, right?
Joseph: Endless possibilities with what we can do and really help drivers in their use case. And another really big thing that I love about Link Labs in addressing challenges is we're a very white glove approach. That's one thing I love about this company is we're not a out of the box, here you go, that's all you get. No, no, no. We actually work with customers, work with partners to really solve industry challenges. And it's like, okay, this is a new feature set. Yeah, let's go ahead and grab this and we'll create it. And now everyone else that uses our product benefits from it, you know? So it's a very great thing, man, on what we're doing.
Carson: Yeah, and you can expand upon that all day because there's so much that we can do. For our listeners who don't know, you know, we try to clarify this but there's a lot of different trailers, right? There's flatbeds, there's dry beds. Is Link Labs compatible with all different types of trailers? Can our solution be used in any way?
Joseph: Yeah, trucks and the trailer assets, right? So I'm meaning, so when you talk about trailers, the truck itself, the truck is a big thing and the telematics really own that space, but it's us working with the telematics to really interlink these things together. But then it becomes the insight of the trailers. And I'm not only meaning drive-in trailers, I'm talking refrigerated trailers with cold chain monitoring. I'm talking about chassis and the containers that get loaded onto those chassis. And when you start talking about these different types of containers, grain haulers, chemical fuel haulers that drop hooks, you know, drop hook trailers that are just sitting at warehouses and the visibility that we can provide on, you know, just trailers sitting there, the utilization of the trailers. You know how long the dwell time has been, how long has this trailer been sitting in this warehouse or smart yard infrastructure, how long has this trailer been sitting in my yard and not in my cycle being used, right? You want to really maximize the longevity of these trailers, so you really want to start cycling them through, you know, and so we cater to every use case and it's really, again, when you look at the broader ecosystem and, you know, container ships coming up, cargoes, then get loaded onto chassis, you know, where did the freight come from? We follow the freight at Link Labs at the ship to this port on this chassis and connected to this chassis. And then where we do the digital custody is tying the truck driver to chassis, then container to a trailer. It's just taking it to the next level of asset tracking. And then, you know, second, with our price point that we have in the market, it's just unbeatable with the insight that you'll get, the features that you get and the price you get, you know, Link Labs is a choice.
Carson: Yeah, and one thing that I find interesting, and I know you actually have a webinar coming up at the end of June, and we're going to be talking a lot about, you know, how Link Labs isn't trying to compete against telematics companies. We're trying to pair our solutions to give logistics operations, you know, a more efficient company. How would you say that Link Labs, you know, what would you say about that? How does link labs, you know, pair with telematics companies to make a better solution?
Joseph: Yeah, and you hit it right on the head. We're not competitors, we're partners. Because for us at the end of the day, it's about the end users. It's about us partnering with partners and other technology partnerships that benefit our shared customer, benefit the user. And really that's beneficial because that's what we care about. That's who's using the product. That's who's hauling the freight. So I am from a user experience background, creating experiences. It's always about the end user. And I have this dumb little reference that I always referenced for the last 20 years, because I'm a big nerd at the same time of Tron, but Tron had it spot on. I fight for the user and he did it. And it's true. When you think about user experience and what solution you're kind of providing, it should always be about who's using the product and how they're using the product. And if you're doing it right, then it's perfect, right? There's always good, but you always must have the user in mind. And it's just, if you live by that and you build your products by that, your products will get used and used right and they'll get the benefit of that result.
Carson: Well, you have been probably the best addition to Link Labs that we've had in a very long time. The things that you've done already are just incredible. You know, teaching Link Labs, you know what we can do and all the possibilities that we have. So thank you for taking the time today to talk with me. Could you tell our listeners, if they have any questions, how they could reach out to you?
Joseph: Yeah, absolutely. And again, for you, thank you for having me on the show. It's been great. Again, I feel like I've been at Link Labs for like two years now.
Carson: It really has. The things you've done in this little amount of time is worth two years, right?
Joseph: Yeah, and it seems like I've been here two years but it's only been a very short time. But that's, I guess that speaks to the culture here at Link Labs. And just the welcoming of the family that you guys have here. And I'm excited about what we're doing here. I'm excited about what our future holds for us. And I'm excited to see everyone at the shows, to tell you if you haven't run into you yet, to tell you about what Link Labs is doing. And you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm sure Carson will put it on the screen somewhere on a pop-up, but yeah, please feel free to reach out if you have any questions on our technology, questions on how we can partner together or just questions over on how I'm doing or Carson's doing. I'm happy to take a call in the meeting for those. But yeah, very, very exciting time. Very excited to be on your podcast. And, you know, as my friend Dooner over at FreightWaves on what the truck says, more cowbell, baby. Ring that cowbell.
Carson: Hopefully I can be as good as Dooner one day, right?
Joseph: Dooner's the man, I love Dooner.
Carson: Yeah!. And if any of you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out to either of us. Also visit our website at link-labs.com. We have a whole section of collateral. We have web pages for trailer tracking, fleet tracking, all types of different collateral and media that you guys can dive into to get a better understanding of what we do, the future, and how we help logistics operations. So Joe, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining.
Joseph: It has been a pleasure. And I know on the side note, Carson, if any of my contacts wanna be on our podcast, we'd love to have your industry knowledge to really expand the podcast and really educate everyone. It's really about sharing knowledge here. So if any contacts of mine or Carson's want to appear on our show, please let us know and we'll get you scheduled.
Carson: And you know what the best part about that is Joe? I learned just as much as our viewers. It's crazy because I'm relatively new to the space. I don't have a lot of experience in the logistics space, but just from the amount of podcasts that I've had so far, I've learned so much from guys like you, from guys like Bob. It's just a crazy thing to be a part of. So I'm so excited for the future of the podcast.
Joseph: And that's why I said it's a very educational resource and tool to have at your disposal, if you listen to a lot of podcasts and especially this one, you get educated. So it's really, really awesome.
Carson: Well, thanks for joining and I hope you have a good day.
Joseph: Thanks man, appreciate it.
Carson: As always, thank you so much for listening to our episode this week. Link Labs is a leading innovator in all things, internet of things. Link Labs offers an asset tracking solution that uses technology to improve companies’ efficiencies. If you wanna learn more about Link Labs and asset tracking, and all the many benefits that we can provide to your company. Visit our website at Link Labs and be sure to follow us on all of our social media platforms at Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, subscribe to our YouTube channel. And of course, subscribe to this podcast for more episodes to come in the future. We look forward to seeing you next time. And as always, thank you so much for listening in.