Leadership Discussion with Lindsey Graves, Sunset Transportation

Our latest episode of McLeod Insights is a conversation from McLeod’s recent Virtual User Conference, featuring Lindsey Graves, COO of Sunset Transportation, and Deborah Lockridge, Editor-in-Chief of Heavy Duty Trucking. Deborah interviewed Lindsey to discuss her work as a leader in a family-owned business, and how Sunset Transportation uses McLeod Software to improve their daily operations.

Lindsey has a rich background in the transportation industry. Sunset Transportation, a non-asset based 3PL based in St. Louis, is Lindsey’s family’s business – a business she stumbled into after college and quickly grew to love. 

“I always thought, even though my family owned the company, that it wasn’t something I wanted to be part of,” she says. “I went on my own path, went to college, and didn’t take any logistics courses, even though my father really encouraged me to. 

“After college, by accident, I came back to the company. My dad needed somebody to help bill part-time. And I sat down and started billing, then started asking a lot of questions and really starting to learn more about the business.” 

Lindsey realized that not only had college prepared her more for her family business than she realized; she also found that she enjoyed returning to the business she’d learned so much about growing up. Before long, she was in a full-time billing position. Then she moved up to Broker, followed by Marketing, Agent Management, VP of Operations, and finally COO. 

Who is Sunset Transportation?

Sunset Transportation is a third-party, non-asset based logistics company. They operate differently than a standard brokerage. They do LTL business, and they also function as a freight audit and payment company. 

“Data is a big part of our work with our customers. And we do a lot of consulting, we take a very strong consultative approach with our customers from a logistics management position,” Lindsey says. 

When Lindsey first joined the company 15 years ago, Sunset was a $17 million company. This year, they’ll finish out at $190 million. Most of their growth has been organic, but in the near future, they plan to do more acquisitions. Lindsey is particularly interested and involved in the acquisition process.

Investing in Technology for Growth 

Lindsey says organizational development was the most difficult growth area among the investments Sunset needed to make. In order to gather the information they needed to continue their growth trajectory, Lindsey says Sunset invested in McLeod Software in order to get to the root of their data.

“McLeod was a big investment for us and a very powerful tool that allowed us to propel our growth naturally, just from having access to the system,” she says. 

“We are all very fortunate to be operating on a system as powerful as McLeod. A big part of Sunset’s success is utilizing the tools to their fullest capacity.”  

In addition to technology, Lindsey recommends hiring a business analyst who can help your company dig deeper into your data for better internal decisions. Strong data can also help your customers learn more about their own businesses. Lindsey says that through data, you can better advocate for them and their growth, too. 

Acquisitions and Partnership Advice for Carriers 

As carriers grow, it’s important to proceed with caution through acquisitions and partnerships. In particular, Lindsey says carriers should only work with brokers and 3PLs that they feel good about working with. This helps lessen the transactional nature of the relationship and makes it more authentic. 

“Work with who you enjoy working with,” she says. “It’s not always about the bottom line. I get that everyone needs to be profitable, but there are good brokers out there who want to do what’s right for both you and them, and they’re looking out for your best interests as well as their own.” 

A relationship between broker and carrier that is transparent and mutually beneficial is the key to success in transportation, according to Lindsey. 

To watch or listen to the latest episode of McLeod Insights featuring Lindsey Graves, click here