Wesley Brown ’17: CTS Logistics – My internship this summer with Commodity Transportation Services in Nashville, Tennessee has been unique in a variety of ways. In short, CTS is a freight brokerage that mainly deals in the logistics side of transporting produce throughout the country. This particular internship is rather unique because I am working with one CTS logistics manager, Mike Hrgota, out of a condominium because we are working toward gaining loyal customers on this half of the country in order to start and expand into a branch office in the Nashville area. All from the condo, Mike and I are responsible for coordinating the transportation of produce from the Southeast to the Mid-South, Midwest, and Northeast regions of the United States. This internship has been especially challenging, but Mike has took me under his wing by teaching me a vast amount about the business as well as helping me gain irreplaceable professional experience by giving me a sizeable amount of responsibility in company matters. Mike has also taught me some valuable life lessons, including a healthier diet and how to cook a delicious Cajun baked chicken breast.
In the first six weeks of my internship with CTS, I have aided in many cases and also been solely responsible for obtaining a trucking company for a partnership, as well as tracking over 50 loads. These loads have almost all been transported in refrigerated tractor-trailers; almost all the loads have been of some variety of produce, and on average each load brings in about $250 profit for CTS. In total, the
loads I have been heavily involved in have created a total profit of about $11,000 for the company and helped build a strong base of produce shipping customers. A freight broker’s job may sound easy on paper; however, almost nothing is simple in trucking when dealing with produce. Timing is probably the most crucial element in the freight brokerage practice: the truck must be at the shipping location waiting and ready when the product is picked at a farm, many times truck drivers are late for a load appointment or cannot find the shipper or consignee location, some loads require the refrigerated trailer to be at 40 degrees for the first 6 hours of a run and then 34 degrees for the remainder of the trip, there are often insurance claims on loads of produce that are over/under ripened or damaged during the run, and many other problems that occur on a daily basis in the produce shipping business.
In order to at the very least have a handle on these challenging situations, the most important skill I have developed during this internship has been problem-solving. These problems that occur are very real and it is the freight broker’s sole responsibility to do their best to fix things that go wrong with loads. At times we are not able to fix the problem, but even then we must work to keep the customer happy and transport their product where it needs to be in a different manner by making adjustments. Last week, a load of watermelons that I was tracking was rejected at a US Foods Distribution center in Hatfield, Pennsylvania for being “too cold.” However, my coworker and I communicated and worked together to sell the load to a smaller food company nearby in order to keep our shipper and loyal trucking company happy.
This Small Business Internship Fund program has been a complete immersion into the life of a freight broker and logistics manager. The position is demanding and nonstop, as I have often times had to step away from the dinner table, fishing hole, or local music venue on weekends in order to take calls and work from my phone in order to solve developing problems. My favorite part of the internship has been a feeling of accomplishment after a driver calls to update me that he has successfully delivered a load of produce all the way from Florida to Michigan, about a 1,300 mile run. This being my first internship in the business world, I have learned a great deal about how a business is run, and have learned that I might like to work in sales one day. I have also fallen in love with Nashville and now strongly want to live and work in this area in the future. I have experienced culture such as music, history, and nature that would not be possible anywhere else. Another great part of my SBIF experience here has been networking with Wabash alumni in the area. Just last night I went on a five mile walk with Tim Morrison ‘83, and talked with him about everything from the business world, baseball, and our strong Christian faith. In conclusion, I would like to thank the Small Business Internship Fund program and all people involved in this process for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to gain unique professional and life experience through this amazing program.