Business Spotlight: Flyer Logistics Solutions

Gateway To Milwaukee’s Executive Director, Jim Tarantino, interviews business owners about working in The Gateway.

Flyer Logistics Moves Freight Around the Country

The Gateway to Milwaukee is a perfectly situated hub for logistics experts and freight forwarders. Flyer Logistics Solutions, headquartered in the MKE Regional Business Park, is a third-party logistics (3PL) firm with a growing national presence. Mike Groth, General Manager of Flyer Logistics, shared his perspective on the company’s accomplishments.

How did you get started in logistics?

Groth: “Flyer Logistics grew out of Tax Airfreight Inc., which was founded in 1977 as an airfreight cartage company by Greg Groth and Rick Sabbatini. Tax Airfreight has been in the Gateway for 38 years, and services Mitchell, Midway, and O’Hare airports. While working at Tax Airfreight, I saw an opportunity to build an entity where we could offer complete freight service to our customers.”

Flyer Logistic Solutions is the newest division of Tax Air, and they’ve been operating for five years.

What is “3PL”?

Groth: “Flyer Logistics is a third-party logistics company, which means we provide a local ground solution to the airfreight and ocean freight import and export forwarders in virtually every location in North America. ‘Forwarders’ are people or companies who are contracted to coordinate the movement of freight to or from manufacturers. Forwarders hire Flyer Logistics to recover imported freight at major airports or ocean ports around the country and we coordinate getting this freight moved to its final destination. We will also coordinate the pick up of freight around the US and get it to the air or ocean port for export overseas.

“Fundamentally, we own no trucks, but we form relationships with truckers around the country that move freight for us. The forwarders come to us for dependable and reasonably priced transportation services.”

Why did you choose to locate Flyer Logistics in The Gateway to Milwaukee and in the MKE Regional Business Park?

Groth: “For our business, it’s important to be near the airport and the forwarders that work in the area. We are also thrilled with the proximity to our parent company. This location has allowed us to keep in close contact with our local customers while also expanding into new markets.”

For many decades, the southern end of Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport housed the 440th Airlift Wing of the Air Force Reserve. In 2008, the base was closed, and the buildings have been repurposed to create Milwaukee County’s MKE Regional Business Park.

Groth: “At the MKE Regional Business Park, the prices are reasonable and there are so many buildings to choose from. Milwaukee County has a unique leasing structure here. Businesses are responsible for the upgrades, but our base lease is very nice. The county is easy to work with, and if you have patience it’s a nice process.

“In addition, MKE Regional Business Park has a campus-like setting that’s very tranquil and conducive to focus,” he said. “The military security has been removed, which makes the area calm and inviting to businesses and customers alike. We work in a stressful business, and encourage our employees to take advantage of the surroundings to relax when time allows. There’s a lot of green space. A block and a half to the west you have Howell Ave., but here you can take a walk and decompress during a stressful workday.”

What’s special or unique about the way Flyer Logistics does business?

Groth: “Flyer Logistics uses a lot of information technology to coordinate both the business and logistical sides of our transactions. We have a custom website that acts as a brokerage hub for our loads. It allows carriers to see the loads we have available and choose which loads they can accommodate. Flyer Logistics has IT connectivity with our carriers so information about whether a shipment was delivered and signed for can flow into our system. With this constant connection, we can have superior communication with our customers about what’s happening with their freight.”

Flyer Logistics has kept close ties to the airfreight industry, since it’s an integral part of the company’s business plan. “After 9/11, there were some changes in the way freight was handled at the airport,” said Groth. “The biggest industry impact of 9/11 on the freight industry has been in domestic airfreight. Pre-9/11 there was a lot of cargo flying on various domestic passenger flights. This freight was serviced by domestic airlines with cargo facilities directly at the airport. Now it’s a little harder to move freight on passenger planes. There is still about the same amount of freight flying in and out of Mitchell Airport, but most of the freight migrated to Fed-Ex, UPS, and companies that have large cargo planes.”

What kind of freight do you usually deal with?

Groth: “Give us any logistical challenge, anywhere in the country. Flyer Logistics can meet any demand, and the freight could be anything. If the freight is an oversized machine that needs a flatbed moved across state lines with permits, we have the contacts to do that. We can also move ocean shipping containers or any other kind of freight. Because we use large national carriers, like Conway, and Dayton, who are used to carrying manufacturer freight, we recover the freight from the airport, clean it up, and make it look like the freight they are accustomed too. This extra step makes it possible to conduct our business without the cost of truck ownership.”

What’s next for Flyer Logistics?

Groth: “Right now, we do about 350 shipments a week. We would like to ramp that up to 400 this year, which breaks down to about 650 customers total. We expanded to Los Angeles two years ago, and to New Jersey a year ago, and have had very good growth out of those markets. Due to rapid growth, we’re moving into a larger building in the MKE Regional Business Park. It will not only meet our current needs, but also our anticipated future growth. Business has been going very well for us, now it’s up to us to keep it going.”