Thirty years ago the trucking industry was in the dawn of deregulation. New businesses were forming and prospering, one of which was a software company founded by Tom McLeod. He and many others seized the opportunity to give truckload carriers a taste of automation.
At the time, carriers “were just looking to stop buying so many typewriters,” recalled McLeod, president of McLeod Software, during the company’s annual user conference, held Oct. 4-6 in Birmingham, Ala.
He personally wrote the company’s first product, LoadMaster, to automate the routine dispatch, billing and driver settlement processes. Looking back, he remembers that at least 50 other startups had a similar product. The competition has thinned out considerably since then.
The company has expanded its portfolio to all types of asset and non-asset transportation companies, growing to 383 employees at present with 2015 shaping up to be another record-setting year of growth.
While giving the opening address at the conference on Monday, Oct. 5, McLeod said the secret to the company’s success is its customers. This year’s conference had a 30 percent increase in attendance from 2014 with approximately 1,000 people.
“We’ve had customers that have pushed us and pulled us and pointed us in the right direction.”
He also credited the four guiding principles of the company, established early on: 1) Spend less than you take in; 2) Make commitments you can deliver on; 3) Do what you say you are going to do and know what you are doing; and 4) Treat people with dignity and respect.
During the user conference, McLeod Software announced a new customer-branded mobile app that carriers can extend to drivers through the Apple and Android stores.
Five years ago, the company developed a mobile app for fleet managers. Subsequent releases of the McLeod Anywhere platform created a full-featured, mobile version of its LoadMaster and PowerBroker enterprise platforms. The company held off on developing apps that would encroach on the domain of in-cab mobile communication providers like Omnitracs and PeopleNet, however, until now.
One reason was to avoid direct competition with its vendor partners; another was that mobile applications are “not something you can whip together,” he said.
Initially, the Carrier Driver app will be complimentary to existing mobile comm systems. Future developments will extend functionality beyond what is available today from third-party apps, he said. McLeod Software also plans to create a version of the mobile app for its freight broker customers that use the PowerBroker system.
The current release has dispatch messaging, full access to driver settlement information, document and electronic signature capture, accident reporting, and more. Pricing details have not been released other than the app has a subscription model based on the number of active drivers using the app.
“We intend to be very competitive on our pricing model,” he says. “I think we are doing it in a way that will allow us to be successful.”
Other new product capabilities and enhancements announced at the conference included:
Driver messaging: LoadMaster and PowerBroker users can send automated text messages and information via SMS text or e-mail directly to drivers. The new feature gives carriers and brokers another way to communicate details about load assignments. The messages are fully documented against the appropriate load or order records in the software; it is not lost to history as a text message stream. Pricing for this feature is $0.05 per message sent.
Market Insight: The McLeod Carrier-Broker Exchange was rebranded as the McLeod Market Insight Module, a hosted exchange for loads and rate information exclusive to McLeod customers. Use of the module is free to participants that anonymously share their rate history information. Recently a new capability was added to allow users to upload a spreadsheet of lanes as O/D pairs to request market rate information to speed RFP and bid response times.
Container and Intermodal: A new version of this module for LoadMaster and PowerBroker was released. It features a new master order screen that allows for faster entry and multiple orders plus return movements for empty containers.