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Saving the ship Featured

9:40am EDT July 22, 2002

James H. Haller, executive vice president and CFO at Harper Engraving & Printing Co., thought he’d negotiated pretty well for his company’s package shipping.

After all, his prior experience of 17 years working for UPS enabled him to find an 8 percent discount for the West Columbus company.

Soon, however, he discovered he could do even better.

Working with Brett Febus, managing partner of ShipSave Consulting LLC in Hilliard, Haller received a total discount of 18 percent — an additional savings of about $25,000 a year for his company.

“By me not knowing what the market would bear, I only knew the UPS guidelines,” Haller says. “I really didn’t know what kind of incentive I could get.”

Febus discovered Haller was receiving some of his rates from the wrong rate chart. He also found Harper Engraving wasn’t shipping as many packages as anticipated when the UPS contract was written.

“I was able to lower his commitment to UPS,” Febus explains. “He hasn’t promised them so much, but he is also getting a bigger discount.”

Febus also helped Haller with a client, who wanted packages delivered regularly to Canada, by working with the UPS Customshouse Brokerage to set up paperwork with customs.

“Ultimately what it does is customs is notified further in advance than they normally would be about the product you’re preparing to ship up to Canada,” Febus says. “As a result, there’s less of a chance for that package to be held up in customs.”

In addition, the process should help Haller reduce his brokerage fees because instead of customs having to deal with individual packages, it’s going to deal with groups of his packages.

Febus, whose company is in the process of being acquired by Intrepa LLC, an Indiana-based warehouse and transportation management company, says much of his work involves making unique changes to each customer’s contract so they’re receiving the most benefit. He consults with clients via his Web site and sometimes works with carriers on their behalf.

Febus, also a former UPS employee, works with small package carriers including UPS, FedEx Corp., Airborne Express and DHL Airways Inc., but generally customers want to stay with their current carrier.

“When you switch carriers, there’s just so much internally that’s involved,” Febus says. “Sometimes it’s just not worth the headaches.”

For Doug Byorth, president of Focus Logistics Solutions LLC, ShipSave fulfills a niche for managing small package delivery — allowing him to bring more services to his customers.

“It solidified us with our clients in that they know we are addressing all their logistics modes of transportation regardless of our in-house expertise,” he says.

Febus got the idea to form his company about a year ago when a customer suggested an unbiased consultant would help him understand the rates carriers were offering.

In cases like Haller’s, where the client currently receives a discount from the carrier, Febus splits the savings he finds with the client for two years. So Haller, who got an extra 10 percent discount by working with Febus, will pay Febus half of that discount. In cases in which the client does not currently have a discount, Febus charges 25 percent of what he gets for them. That fee also lasts two years.

The factor of not having to find the discount on his own was a benefit for Haller.

“I’m a small business — $10 million a year,” Haller says. “In my position, I don’t have time to go chasing down all the answers.”

How to reach: ShipSave Consulting, www.shipsave.com, 921-9091

Joan Slattery Wall (jwall@sbnnet.com) is associate editor of SBN Columbus.