Building a Digital Marketplace for Equipment with REPOWR
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In this episode, Blythe speaks with Jake Battles, VP of Business Development and Sales at REPOWR, about how his company has built a digital marketplace for renting trailers and equipment. Jake explains the challenges of trailer utilization, REPOWR’s innovative solution, and how it benefits carriers and shippers alike. He also highlights pioneering approaches that increase supply chain flexibility and efficiency through intelligent trailer-sharing.




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Show Transcript

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Jake Battles: 0:05

Your highest cost as a trucking company is going to be your driver pay, and then, close behind, you've got insurance, and then you've got fuel, and then you've got equipment and, depending on how you structure your business, those four are still the top four, no matter if you have one truck or if you have a thousand.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:26

Welcome to another episode of everything is logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. We are proudly presented by SPI logistics and I am your host, Blythe Brumleve. Today we have Jake Battles. He is the VP of business development and sales over at REPOWR and we're going to be talking all about trailers and how they should never be an excuse to say no to freight opportunities. Jake, you actually put that in our pre show calendar booking notes and I thought that was a perfect opening line. So thank you and welcome to the show.

Jake Battles: 0:57

Oh, thanks for having me. Glad to be here.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:00

Now, before I hit record, we started getting into a really good discussion about public speaking and you have, we, that's the number one fear, I think across the world is public speaking, but you have no qualms with it. And why is that?

Jake Battles: 1:16

Well, in undergrad I was taking an intro communications course and my intro professor, just kind of when we were getting started, was like for every assignment, you can either elect to write a paper or you can do a speech, as long as that you're answering the questions, you can choose.

Jake Battles: 1:33

And I've just, either out of opportunistic luck or laziness, or procrastination or a combination of all three, I was like man.

Jake Battles: 1:41

The speech just seems so much easier than sitting down in a dorm room or a computer lab in the early 2000s and writing a paper, and so, ever since then, I got fascinated about dialect and rhetoric. I was fortunate enough in undergrad to be during it was during the 2008 election, and so I was in a debate class and got to study the presidential debates as they were happening and we we had to watch and take notes and we would go to class and they would. Our professor would assign, you know, the Democratic candidate or the Republican candidate, which at the time was McCain and Obama, and so then you would have to debate the points in real time, which was, which was pretty fun. But yeah, I studied public speaking and social influence in college and then I've been a DJ for 20 years now. That's what I used to do to help pay my way through college, and so I've done sports, announcing radio work, dj work, and so I really just dove head first into the deep end when it comes into public speaking.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:41

And for, for folks who may not be aware, what are some of, maybe like the high level rules, we do's and don'ts of public speaking.

Jake Battles: 2:51

Pauses are your friend, especially dramatic pauses, pausing for effect. That what I just did with filler words. You know those are. Those are what get in your mind when you try to navigate your thoughts and when you're trying to think and speak in real time. Making sure that you enunciate your words, you speak clearly, and my dad used to say was always to sit up straight, speak with your chest, make sure the people in the back of the room can hear you, but from a high level. It was really about keeping your points crisp and clear and once you were complete, you just stop.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:30

I love that. I was waiting for the dramatic pause there too. I wasn't sure if it was dramatic pause or the stop, but that was a. That was a really good segue into my next question, because now I'm wondering how has this helped you in the sales and logistics side of things? I imagine it's helped you a ton.

Jake Battles: 3:49

Early on in my logistics career, when I was getting started in brokerage, what it really helped me understand was, when you're negotiating just even just rates. If you could get on the phone and you could just ask for a rate and stop and let the person you're negotiating with, your customer give you the feedback before you talked yourself out of a sale or, you know, conceded. Too early that really helped. But later in my career, as we got into more of the enterprise sales and the higher level sales, it was really about speaking short, concise, asking a lot of questions and then just stopping and being able to filter the answers as they came back.

Jake Battles: 4:31

And what I have found as a segue into REPOWR as well is if you can get your contact prospect to actually talk to you about their challenges and problems. That is like 80% of the battle. You can prospect, you can cold email, you can cold call all day, every day, but until you have a prospect or a contact that's willing to actually talk to you about the problems that they're experiencing, it sort of gives you insight enough to really be able to take some notes and identify the best places to bring some value with whatever you're trying to sell if it's moving freight, if it's trailers, if it's software, all of those things have to start with a solution to a problem, and if your prospect isn't in a position to even communicate a problem, then there's no reason for you to try to sell anything.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:21

And do any of those strategies or tips change in sort of the broadcasting world, because you said you've done some radio broadcasting as well. Curious if that changes the communication strategy at all.

Jake Battles: 5:33

Well, in radio broadcasting what was wild? And my experience in broadcasting was very minimal. I did voiceover work and I did some interviews and things like that, but it's very rare that any of that stuff is live anymore. I mean, when I was working with Kiss FM in North Carolina, I spoke with Andy, who was a high school friend of mine, who was doing an actual on air personality and I DJed some fundraisers for them and I did some promo work with her and it was like a 2.30 on a Thursday afternoon that we were recording a bit that was going to be played on Saturday morning, and so the back and forth internally in the studio continued to be valuable.

Jake Battles: 6:12

But the actual engagement of trying to sound interesting and personable into a microphone when no one is there just blew my mind. Because for people who work in broadcasting and based on the conversations we've had prior to this, I know you have experience in this world too trying to have that conversational tone when you're looking at a lens is substantially more difficult than people give you credit for. That's why they say you're supposed to put a mirror in front of you if you can, so at least you're looking at yourself.

Blythe Brumleve: 6:43

Yeah, a lot of people, especially guests that come on the pod. They are very, very nervous, especially for a lot of folks in logistics, because they're starting to do more interviews. But a lot of higher up executives just haven't been accustomed to those type, to that type of media training, and so it's interesting to have a really high profile guest on. And then they're so nervous about how it sounds afterwards they don't want to listen to it. They think their answers sound dumb and I have to go through a little bit of reassurance to tell them no, you sound good, it sounds like a conversation, and that's all I'm trying to have with these kind of conversations.

Jake Battles: 7:23


Jake Battles: 7:24

I did a bit with what the truck and doon are a couple weeks ago and he is a machine.

Jake Battles: 7:32

Okay, I again I've done this a fair amount in my career, but the cadence and speed of which he speaks it doesn't sound as intimidating when you're watching him live or when you're listening to him, but when you're there in the studio sitting next to him, I was like man, you are ripping and roaring up here. And I had those same thoughts because my wife and some of my coworkers had listened to them and they're like oh, you were great, it was awesome. And I was like I thought I was just playing catch up the entire time because he was rattling off and he was so well enunciated to which. Again, looking back at it retroactively, I was like man, it does not seem nearly as fast paced on the air as it does in person, because I was again just kind of stunned by how well spoken and how his cadence and how his vernacular and everything was so well and tight and well done but so quickly.

Blythe Brumleve: 8:28

Because he's doing so many interviews. He has what? Three shows a week. He has several guests on for each show and periodically, if you follow on over on X, then he'll send out his stats. And it's hundreds and hundreds of people that he talks to and it's simply incredible. So it takes a lot. I think for other folks that may be listening and wanting a few tips, that's how many reps it takes to get really good at something like that, and for former radio broadcaster like yourself in order to go on there and be impressed. It's one of those. It takes a special kind of person to be able to handle that kind of workload and talk to that many different types of people, from the high level executives to the owner operators to somebody. That's just a variety of different skill sets that he can hone in on and tap into, which is awesome to see. So it's cool that you got the same experience as well.

Jake Battles: 9:27

It was. It was a wild place to be, to being behind the scenes and everything in there. Freight waves, freight waves office in my office or I don't know the way the crow flies less than a mile away, a couple blocks in downtown Chattanooga, and so that was. It was wild to get in there. I've been in the bar, downstairs in the freight alley, the kind of like event space, which is also really neat, but I'd never spent any time upstairs in their studio, and so that was also a really cool experience.

Blythe Brumleve: 9:52

What's really cool about that office and for folks who may not have been there or maybe have thought about going up to Chattanooga for F3, highly highly recommend because it is such, it is freight alley. It is really cool to see all these different transportation and logistics companies all within sort of walking distance from each other. But that upstairs was originally just like all desk and they completely during COVID they completely gutted it and made it just the media experience, which is really cool to see and sort of the. I guess it echoes the shift that we've had in sort of the overall logistics industry. But back to you and what you do. You have this background and public speaking and radio broadcasting and then you also have some experience on the freight brokerage side of things. How did all of that experience turn into you joining REPOWR?

Jake Battles: 10:44

I think I learned early on that I was really concerned about delivering value for the truckers. I developed some really strong relationships early on in my career at Covenant Transport when I was managing produce shipments off the West Coast with a lot of my West Coast carriers and I really just took an interest in their no pun intended, in their interest, wanted to make sure that I understood that I may be working in an office in Chattanooga at this enterprise level fleet, which was really good experience to learn how the big trucking companies do it. But Covenant sent me to California to manage peak shipments for UPS and some other customers and I worked in the offices with some of these fleets and I got to see firsthand like the down and dirty, like going out to the yard with a rubber mallet and you know hitting trailers to get the kingpins to come loose and sliding tandems and really getting a firsthand look and understanding of the livelihood of the keystrokes that we hit on the keyboard and how that affects everybody, from the other fleets to the drivers and their families. One of my first fleets I worked with it's name was Ammon Truck Lines ATL. They're out of Tracy, california. When I started working with them they had 10 trucks and I think that may have been a stretch, but it was about 10. They ran teen reefers and now they're up to over 500 and I have worked with them for the last 10 years and been able to see them grow.

Jake Battles: 12:13

And I have other carriers and partners that I've worked with over the last decade and I've really just taken an interest and a passion about. You know, a rise in tide raises all those, and so I moved from the brokerage and project management piece. I worked for Covenant's brokerage. I worked in the asset group for a while. I helped build and launch a fuel card carrier services division with Covenant that focused on invoice factoring, focused on generating leads for leasing and getting equipment. We did like routing consultation for preferred carriers, we did fuel discounts, and so I really took that and leverage it into being able to take this volume based value approach for working with a large company like Covenant and being able to bring those to our carrier partners so that we could all grow together. And then that carrier services position ended up moving and generating into a full time factoring role that I had that I worked with Covenant's factoring group before it sold a triumphant 2020.

Jake Battles: 13:14

And then I worked with their equipment leasing division where I focused on fleets from five to a thousand trucks. I was a national account rep for them, traveling all over the country. And that was the transition from even more about learning about the carrier's business as a whole, looking at financial statements, looking at earnings, looking at balance sheets and understanding where challenges are coming in financially, ways that we can work together as partners to help alleviate some cash flow struggles over here, or making sure that they're having maintenance issues, how can we work to facilitate more fuel efficient trucks, or how can we look at these trailers, making sure they're spec correctly, and again, just really diving into ways to use the tools in the toolbox to help these carriers have a more successful business venture. And I think from there I even went and became more fascinated with repower.

Jake Battles: 14:11

When I got with repower early on, I was working with them when I was at Tel and I was just really fascinated by this idea of asset sharing and smart trailer capacity and an elastic supply chain and repower ended up, you know, providing me with an opportunity very early on and I talked to my leadership at Tel and Covenant and kind of went through it and they wished me luck and so I came and joined repower, but I left on good terms with Covenant. They were one of my first customers here when I got here. They've continued to do very well, and so I again focusing on relationships and making sure that we do right by our customers has been just one of my foundational values that I continue to strive to execute at a high level today.

Blythe Brumleve: 15:00

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Blythe Brumleve: 15:49

You said something that stuck out to me. You were helping with anywhere from five to a thousand trucks. That feels like an insane difference between five trucks and a thousand. I would imagine that you're dealing with a lot of different problems with that range or they kind of the same. They just scale. Those problems scale as you get more trucks.

Jake Battles: 16:15

It's a lot more similar than you think it really is. I mean, you know your highest cost as a trucking company is going to be your driver pay, and then, close behind, you've got insurance, and then you've got fuel, and then you've got equipment and they and depending on how you structure your business, those four are still the top four, no matter if you have one truck or if you have a thousand. Those are still why so many people in this industry are focused. You've got driver recruiting. That's just always important. Make sure you have the right people in the right trucks. You have your fuel cost making sure you have the most fuel efficient trucks, making sure that your trucks are spec for the type of freight that you haul. And so the economies of scale dictate that you know how much is saving X percentage here and there. But everybody in this industry is focused on accomplishing the same goals of moving freight is safely and efficiently as they can, and so it really was interesting. It really was interesting when you put it that way. A little anecdotal story. I'll tell you that I found really interesting. So when I was working for the factoring company, we worked closely with the leasing company. We would try to help kind of bridge a gap for carriers who were trying to get equipment that may not have the credit quality Just right, and with the factoring company we could, you know, kind of bridge that gap.

Jake Battles: 17:35

And Doug Carmichael, who's the CEO at Transport Enterprise Leasing, told me I'll never forget it. He said you know, when you work for a freight broker, you're like going on dates with your carriers. You're trying to fill the needs, you're trying to fill some holes in there in their network, you're trying to build a relationship. And then when you start looking at carriers when they're factoring, it's like you're dating, right, you're, you're, you're helping their cash flow, you're giving them back office support, helping them scale. And then when you get into the equipment, it's like you get married, because at that point you're looking at trade cycles every couple of years You're looking at the newer equipment. How can you help them scale this part of their business, maybe dial back this part of their business? And you get intimately familiar with these carriers from the time that you know they qualify for their first truck to when they're doing 20, 30, 40, 50 truck orders 10 years down the road and that little tidbit of information has stuck with me for the last few years.

Blythe Brumleve: 18:31

That's a really great way of putting it and it's a perfect segue into one of the quotes that I heard from one of the the repower interviews that it said a trailer spends about 75% of its lifespan detached from a power unit.

Jake Battles: 18:46

So how did?

Blythe Brumleve: 18:47

how did y'all realize that this was a problem that needed to be solved? I imagine, when you were working with all of those carriers, from five trucks to a thousand, that that was a common issue that was coming up.

Jake Battles: 18:57

Right. So that quote actually came from Great Dane, if I remember correctly, and during the early stages of repower. Just doing your market research and learning about, you know where's product market fit. Where do we, how do we make trailers more accessible? And it's really not a glamorous story. Our founders, patrick and Spencer, were both out of college. One of them was working in commercial insurance. That was Spencer.

Jake Battles: 19:23

Patrick was working in operations for a flatbed company, blair logistics, at a Birmingham, and they both were just talking and they were like why are there so many trailers parked everywhere, but yet Patrick, who was managing drivers and making sure they were staying moving? They were always on trailer hunts trying to find the equipment that they needed, but if just an average consumer drives down the road, you see parked trailers everywhere. Like, why are there so many idle pieces of equipment, but yet no one seems to have a trailer? And so what we found out was that the trailing asset portion of the supply chain is just even more fragmented than the truckload industry anyway, and a lot of it has to do with telematics making sure you have the right data in the hands of the people, but also you know the standard business operations of the supply chain with your large enterprise shippers require multi trailers to be staged and dropped at their shipping locations for drop and put freight, and what that does is it creates a lot more capital intensive decisions when you're prospecting and bidding on these opportunities. And so what happens is these large enterprise fleets are even mid-sized fleets. They have to have a two and a half trailer to truck ratio, or a three or a four, to be able to get these contracts. They need to scale and manage their business.

Jake Battles: 20:43

And so, that being said, these large enterprise shippers your Walmarts, amazon's Target, home Depot, these companies that require drop trailers you know they're eating up in maybe 20, 30 trailers for every couple lanes that a carrier may have, and most of those trailers are going to sit. You know they may haul a load from Atlanta to Dallas, but then, once they get to Dallas, they may sit for weeks. And when they're Atlanta, before they shift, they may sit for weeks. And so you're looking and the old, the old adage in transportation is if the wheels aren't turning, you're not making money. And so you look at all this idle time of all of this equipment is just sitting, and during 2020 and 2021, when no one could find a trailer, no one could get one anywhere.

Jake Battles: 21:27

The idea was well, if the money is out there to be made and the trailers are not in a location where they need to make the money, how is there an opportunity, is it scalable, for us to make those trailers available to a third party, generate revenue, moving those trailers from point A to point B, back into those money making lanes where the carriers need them and come to find out? Yes, there is an opportunity for that, and we were able to build a system and generate what we've coined the universal trailer network, on this idea that if a trailer is sitting and it is not where it needs to be, there is someone who needs it and they can use it, generate the revenue they need to and then drop it off in a location where the asset owner needs it. And we have been able to scale on that for the last couple of years and it has worked, honestly, a lot better than I thought it was going to.

Blythe Brumleve: 22:16

And you guys call it the digital marketplace for equipment, correct? And so, with that, what does that look like? Because I was watching a little bit of your demo? It almost looks like a reservation system that you can just log in and find equipment that's closest to you or closest to where you need it. And is that really is that? It Is that the you know, sort of the KISS method.

Jake Battles: 22:39

It is. It operates kind of like a load board for trailers for the open marketplace where you can log on to Repower search. It's a free. It's a free account too. It doesn't cost you anything to create an account and log on and search. And so you can log in and search reefers, dry vans, flatbeds, specialty equipment, tankers, conistogus, things like that, and if you need them for sometimes two days, sometimes six months, there's all different types of equipment on there and some of it it needs to be repositioned from Los Angeles to Dallas, but some of it can just be picked up and delivered in the same location and you basically run through a checkout flow very similar to reserving a hotel room. You pick, you pick the equipment you want, you look at the price, you pick the days you need it. It's a daily price. You prepay for the first up to 30 days at the time of reservation, but if you only need it for 10, you pay for 10. And so it has just created a more elastic experience within the supply chain to be able to get equipment. You have trailers in the shop getting wheel bearings replaced and you don't want to shut down for two weeks.

Jake Battles: 23:45

Here's an opportunity for you to grab a trailer If you have.

Jake Battles: 23:47

If you're a 3PL and you have an opportunity for a customer who needs some storage trailers, you can come get those on repower and provide a solution to a customer that otherwise would be outside of your scope.

Jake Battles: 23:59

If you're an owner operator who's got you know, wanting to scale up from two or three trucks to five and you're not ready to make a capital commitment because you don't really know what type of equipment you need long term, this is a short term solution to let you explore your options, especially when we get into reefer season, like we're in now, or flatbed season, where some people may have an opportunity from a broker that they've done business with for a while and it's just an equipment type they don't have. But in the freight market we're in now, if this is a solution, you could get something for a little while, See if the rates work for you, All of these things. Again going back to the elasticity, we're just about trying to find creative ways to drive value for the trucker and to drive value for the asset owner, and those don't need to be mutually exclusive.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:42

Do you have to? Is it almost like renting a car where you have to return it back to the place that you originally rented it from? Or is that just part of like sort of the universal network where you can leave it where you need to be, or maybe there's a designated drop off spot Like what does that process look like?

Jake Battles: 24:57

So every listing has different parameters. A lot of our listings have multiple different drop off locations. There'll always be one pickup location because obviously that's what you want to see, but you know a lot of our asset owners will be like you know, we've got trailers in Phoenix, we've got trailers in Dallas, pittsburgh, what have you, and you can elect to drop it off when you're done in Memphis, atlanta, jacksonville, charlotte, dallas. I mean, there's a lot of times there are multiple options that allow you to choose where you want to drop the trailer off when you're done, and sometimes they can be right back to where you picked it up. It all just kind of depends.

Blythe Brumleve: 25:34

What does the onboarding process look like?

Jake Battles: 25:36

The onboarding process is you go to Repower, you click Sign Up, you put in your DOT number, it populates the fields, you confirm that this is your DOT number and once that's there you're set up. That's it. If you want to rent the trailer, you have to pay with a card of some kind. But you can browse the website, see what's out there free of charge and until you're ready to make a reservation it doesn't cost you anything.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:05

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Jake Battles: 26:59

Repower will always be your main point of contact for any trailers that you rent. We have an operations team that's staffed to help you with issues, whether it be pickup issues, whether it be condition issues or whether it be maintenance issues. Different asset owners have different processes that they like to follow when it comes to maintenance. Some asset owners will cover tires if it's not due to driver negligence, or a lot of asset owners will cover brakes, airlines, things that should not fail during a 30 to 60 day rental. They'll cover those things. Some asset owners will cover reefer issues. If they rent a reefer trailer and the reefer unit starts throwing codes or having problems, we have asset owners that'll have you call into a breakdown number. We have some that don't. It just depends right.

Jake Battles: 27:43

If you're a small fleet and you're put one or two trailers on there because you're not using them, you may elect two or two, not support with maintenance. A lot of times the pricing reflects that. Our team will be able to tell you, if you call in or you go to the listing, if it's covered or not. We'll help guide you through the process. We want to make sure that you have a great experience. We want you to tell all your friends that you had a great experience. Logistics is a word of mouth business. We take that customer satisfaction and experience very seriously. The short answer is it all depends. I know that is the most accurate answer, but our team is here to guide you if that is a concern that you have based on your need.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:22

It depends. It's also a really good marketing answer as well, because there's so many variables that affect it.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:30

People hate hearing it, but it's the truth. It is the answer that, unfortunately, is the right one the majority of the time. Now, speaking of marketing, what about the sales process? What does that look like for you guys? Because you're on this podcast, you mentioned what the truck earlier. You've been getting out there. You've been doing a lot of media appearances. Is that just the main focus of your sales process? Are you doing a lot of cold calling or cold emailing in this tough market that we're all experiencing?

Jake Battles: 29:02

Well, what's really interesting about the sales process for repowers when you're playing in a space that people haven't really leveraged before? It's about getting out there, getting your mission and your brand out there, letting people know what. The problem that we're trying to solve, like we talked about earlier, if people aren't willing to tell you about their problems, it's really hard to discuss solutions with them. My and our marketing teams focus from a supplier perspective has been like hey, we do this. We help you optimize your trailer pools, we help you manage your assets and we help you do those things while generating revenue into your pocket. We can help take some of these operational challenges and burdens and cost centers when everyone is looking at their fleet and they're looking at their expenses. We have a solution that can be viable for these fleets if they have a need being able to get your brand out there to say hey, we do this at a high level. We move over a thousand trailers a month doing this. This platform works, it is tested, it is true, and it is scalable. It's really more about just getting that out there. We want people to hear it and we're doing a lot of marketing about testimonials from customers on all different walks of the supply chain and how they've been able to leverage repower, whether it be from shippers that need reefers because they had a facility old storage facility go down or due to weather issues, they may have lost power and they need refrigerated trailers.

Jake Battles: 30:34

Over here We've worked with contractors that were renovating a hospital that needed refrigerated trailers. In the past We've worked with, obviously, the under operators who need short-term capacity. We've worked with Enterprise fleets running from other Enterprise fleets because it was cheaper and more efficient for them to procure a trailer for four or five days from this location, service their customer's freight, deliver that freight in this location and drop a trailer off than it was to send a driver on a trailer a hundred miles up the road, turn around and come back. We just want the supply chain and our customers and stakeholders to know that this is a viable option, it works and it works at scale. I think, like I said earlier, when you're trying to bring this type of service in front of people that haven't heard of it, haven't thought about it and may have worked in this industry for a long time, beating the drum is loud and as wide as you can is obviously the shotgun approach and we're really leaning into that for the early part of 2024.

Blythe Brumleve: 31:34

What does? Can you expand when you have, I guess, a really focused niche product? Or is it strictly just growth and brand awareness? That that's what I guess technically expansion looks like for you guys.

Jake Battles: 31:50

Expansion for us looks like it really looks really focused on marketplace density. If you are in Atlanta and you need a trailer, you want it as close to you as possible. My and my demand sales team's job is to get as many pieces of equipment as close to these metros as possible so that the service that we provide, which is this on-demand access to equipment, does not necessitate you deadheading as far as it would be for doing something else. That's the name of the game is just marketplace density, to have these trailers where people need them. Again, if you think about it, there's I don't know what was it Gosh, someone's going to roast me on this but say, conceptually, there's 500,000 fleets in the country.

Jake Battles: 32:42

I don't know if that number is right, I'm literally making it a disclaimer but if there's 500,000 fleets and the average trailer to truck ratio is three to one, there's 1.5 million trailers in this analogy, which is not true.

Jake Battles: 32:58

That's not nearly enough. But if those 1.5 million are not evenly spread out and accessible to the 500,000 fleet, what good is that doing the supply chain as a whole? And so the holistic view is we need to make as many of these trailers as accessible in real time as possible, to again desegment the supply chain. So that's really where the so-called beating of the drum comes in. Is that I need more trailers in these markets like Memphis and Indianapolis and Chicago, where a lot of the freight in the market right now is existing east of Dallas, and so being able to explain how the system works, how the chain of custody works, how the process works from vetting carriers, approving carriers and all of those things to alleviate liability concerns and working through those concerns and all the legal ramifications of letting other parties and third parties handle your equipment. We have answers for all those that we've spent time and resources on bringing to the table, and again we just want to let you know that these resources are here, should you see an opportunity to utilize our services.

Blythe Brumleve: 34:06

Now with, I guess, all of these expansions and or trying to get into different markets and spreading that through word of mouth, I would imagine that, keeping tabs on all of the different equipment all over the country, you have to have some integrations involved as well. What do those look like? Is it telematics ELD? I think is both of those integrations you guys have within your marketplace.

Jake Battles: 34:32

Yes, we work with various different integrations SkyBits, spirion just came on board, sam Sarah, motive we're working through a highway integration right now for the vetting process. We've just onboarded Kestrel Insights for Geofences, and so trailer telematics is the top of the list, right Like being able our system to be able to assign assets to that third party, to be able to see where those assets are during the reservation, at the time of pickup, at the time of delivery, all again ironing out kinks in that chain of custody. All revolve on smart trailer capacity and telematics. And for the renters and the drivers, they have the opportunity to connect their ELDs so that if they are in the market, the system will know, based on their DOT number, their ELD is connected, will know where their truck is and can then source the closest trailer that meets their search qualifications. Now again, you don't have to have your ELDs connected to do that. Your browser on your phone, tablet or whatever smart device you're using, you can opt in to have that same sort of technology done.

Jake Battles: 35:38

But the trailer telematics have really been able to allow the repower system to leverage and grow with the capabilities for the asset owners to be able to track the trailers again while they're on reservation while they're being reserved, because these large enterprise fleets that have four or five thousand trailers, 30,000 trailers, it's not as easy for them to say, hey, I'm really out of balance in this market and you're like great, send me 10 trailer numbers and we'll get them listed for you. Well, if those get listed today, you know those same 10 trailers are probably not going to be there within the next 48 to 72 hours, but the odds are you're still going to have too many. And so, being able to have that communication from the tracking devices to know, hey, this carrier has rented this trailer, it's scheduled to pick up tomorrow, here's what we're showing. You can assign a group of trailers that that person can pick from. All of those things and those data sets that are extremely important about driving the efficiency all come with telematics, through integrations and partnerships.

Blythe Brumleve: 36:40

I mean it sounds like those early conversations, with talking to customers and figuring out their problems, sounds like you guys have really just sort of hit your stride and your rolling smooth. One of the few businesses are not few, but there's definitely some shining stars in a tough market and it feels like you guys are one of those shining stars who is kudos to y'all. Before I got a few more questions for you, because I like to end the show with a lot of you know, I call it the relatable eight questions, where you just ask a few different questions related in and around you know, marketing and sales and the supply chain. So if you, if I you'll allow me to, I'll go ahead and get into those really quick. First up, which you kind of already have answered this first question but how do you think about marketing when it comes to you and your company?

Jake Battles: 37:29

I think marketing to us and for repowers about showing the value on both sides of the marketplace, showing that there are use cases for renting trailers there are.

Jake Battles: 37:39

There are opportunities where it makes more sense to get a trailer right now than it is to spend the resources to try to source them later. And then also the benefits of supplying trailers right, like being a marketplace and facilitating transactions on both sides of the marketplace. You have to have a really solid understanding of when those two use cases are mutually beneficial, and so we spend a lot of time, you know, showing how the repower platform can support owner operators basically pick up a trailer in this location, deliver it in this location 30 days later and then there's other trailers for you to grab there. So if you've been in the power only market and you get stuck somewhere without a trailer, it can be really challenging and expensive to get hit your stride and start being those money making moves again, and we want repower to be a tool in your toolbox to be able to again stay in the green, or so stay in the black, so to speak.

Blythe Brumleve: 38:33

That's a great answer. I'm going to write that down as like a social clip, because I feel like that's a no brainer right there, all right. Next question is what's your favorite social media platform and why?

Jake Battles: 38:43

Oh man. So I really love LinkedIn and I've loved LinkedIn before. I really had a reason to be on love and to be on LinkedIn. But I like reading about success stories. I like reading about again, I am passionate about solving problems right, and LinkedIn is a really cool place to be able to learn about other people's successes and failures and trials and tribulations, because, from a professional standpoint, people love throwing that laundry out there, they love talking about challenges and they love talking about wins, and I think it just helps keep me focused on the problems at hand.

Jake Battles: 39:18

And, again, my LinkedIn is full of thought leaders and the logistics transportation supply chain, but it's also startup tech and just being. I find it extremely relatable. I don't feel like there's nearly as much filler material on LinkedIn as some other sites. Now, again, I do get my guilty pleasure watching gardening and like home improvement stuff on TikTok, and I love cars and anything with an engine and a motor, and so I catch myself watching car videos and things like that. And I am the worst when it comes to Facebook marketplace. I will waste so much time on Facebook marketplace looking at things that I'm never going to buy. It's just the digital version of auto trailer. Auto trader.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:05

Yeah, that's definitely a first. Is someone saying Facebook marketplace on this show? So yeah, that's a great answer. All right, next one what is your favorite SaaS tool that you use every day and can't live without, but it's not your own?

Jake Battles: 40:19

Um, hmm, I'm going to be honest on this one I love highway. I love highway so much. I love highway because I'm a nerd when it comes to again looking and vetting carriers. Looking at their truck counts as they go up and down, looking at where their inspections have been, being able to see the lanes that they run, looking at you know the history, looking at related companies and it's not so much about like fighting fraud, which is their pitch, and it is a really good pitch, but for me, the way that I prospect and source contacts in the industry like related companies a lot of times is another brokerage that's affiliated or it's a holding company or a leasing company, and for me, being able to look and see what highway has done by bringing that to the forefront, I find really interesting. I also really like looking at the violations, the DOT violations of who's you know how bad were they speeding or were they texting and being able to see like just you can really tell a lot about a fleet looking at their highway account based on you know where, what type of violations they've had.

Jake Battles: 41:22

I feel like prior to highway carrier, four on one is what everybody used and you would read these freight guard reports and you're just like man. Someone had to cancel a load and they got a freight guard report and that's just. That's really unfair to the trucker who something happened right, it's logistics and like a broker getting mad and posting something, that's just seems childish we used to look at and kind of chuckle at it. But for the carriers you know that wrecks them like a freight guard report, no matter how frivolous, especially in today's market, will just wreck them and I just don't think there's enough oversight there for what it is designed to do. And I think highway has really come in and filled that void exceptionally well.

Blythe Brumleve: 42:02

So it almost sounds like you're using them as like a sales tool as well, which is maybe like a sleeper sales tip for all the the freight brokers out there Well, and maybe not freight brokers, but anybody else, maybe freight tech in general. That might be a little sneaky sales tool for them in this tough market. Now, one of my other questions was a favorite freight business that isn't your own, but it sounds like highway is going to be that that choice for you, unless you have another mention.

Jake Battles: 42:27

Um, you know what's really interesting about some of the people that I talked to on the enterprise fleet side, right Like I've, I've gotten to learn a lot about a lot of the biggest names in the industry. You know night switch, nighter again, covenant intimately know about them and being able to learn about you know, you think all these large trucking companies are the same and they're not. Their business models, their, their challenges are all very different. They kind of revolve around a lot of the same. You know core issues, but the directions of where they're trying to go and the mark they're trying to make on the industry and the customers that they're trying to serve are all vastly different and the mantras that they follow.

Jake Battles: 43:07

And I find that really interesting because I know, from the small fleet perspective, all these mega fleets are the same and I had that going into it right, I think. I think most people would, and so I would just say, um, my favorite freight business that is not my own, yeah, it's, that's. That's a tough one. I'm probably just going to have to plead the fifth on it. I don't want to alienate any of my customers, but um.

Jake Battles: 43:35

I really I am fascinated by freight Vana a little bit, um, I think. Three PLs utilizing trailing capacity not shameless plug or anything, but I I do find that fascinating as we move into this more connected uh technologically connected uh freight environment. I'm fascinated by three PLs being able to find ways to effectively deploy equipment in the market. Load Smith is another one that is is really leaning into having these trailing assets to support their customers and I really think that's going to be the future as we move into autonomous, semi autonomous vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, I think, having basically these air traffic controller type visuals that are helping manage the power. And I think trailers are going to move into this more kind of locomotive rail space where they're going to become a lot more interchangeable and there's going to be a lot more opportunities around driving the efficiency around those exchanges.

Blythe Brumleve: 44:31

I love that answer, and I'm sure freight Vana um is going to love it too. They've been a guest on this show several times, so so shout out to to Dawn and the team over there and Shannon. Okay, next question Biggest lesson you ever learned in your career?

Jake Battles: 44:44

Um, yeah, um, the biggest lesson I've ever learned in my career as it pertains to freight is communication is key. You have to be very mindful of how you're communicating with your customers and you have to have intimate knowledge about those customers to drive the most efficient communication. And I I say that with the anecdote of, in the brokerage space, in the 3PL space, you know, I I had, I had carriers that would just lie to me and they weren't. It wasn't that they were lying to be malicious, it's just what was the norm for them. You know, if they were running behind or they were, you know something wasn't going right, they would give me these, these, you know, kind of fortune cookie answers and I was like guys, tell me exactly what's happening, let me worry about how to frame it to my customer. You, I need you to be honest with me. And so I think that driving that and building that trust and those relationships are key.

Jake Battles: 45:45

And then being able to communicate effectively and knowing what your customer is focused on. And so, from the freight brokerage space, if your customer is really focused on on time delivery and your carrier saying, hey, they had a flat tire, there's if that flat tire is not going to impede on time delivery. Thank you for telling me, but I don't need to tell my customer that, unless it's going to be a load that doesn't need to stop or is a high value load or something like that, but otherwise, if it's not going to affect on time delivery, thank you for telling me. I don't need to tell my customer that, or if it is, I will. But being able to develop that trust with your carriers and your and your partners and your customers to know that when you're providing a service on either end of the spectrum you have that relationship to know what they find important and what they want to know immediately versus what they might care to know later.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:33

Yeah, that's a. It's something that I feel has more and more, at least over the last couple of years the importance of carrier relations and establishing those early so that you don't have to put your freight on the spot market, so you don't have to go with questionable carriers as long as you're dealing with that open communication with them. And it sounds like you've learned that lesson as well too. All right, what is a book or podcast that has changed your perspective on something that you previously thought?

Jake Battles: 47:00

Never split the difference, chris Voss. It just hit me like a ton of bricks Again, someone who has worked my first job when I was 15, as I sold phone service door to door for Bell South. That was like my first real big Bell South.

Jake Battles: 47:16

Yeah right, the Bell South called the bullpen for any Braves fans that are listening to this. But my dad made a bet with me. A bet. He said that whatever money that I could generate working a summer job, he would double and it would. He would get me my first car. Well, I went and sold phone service and did pretty well at like 15 walking around being clueless. But you know, just going back and thinking about that Rephrase, give me the question one more time.

Blythe Brumleve: 47:44

I kind of went off of a book or podcast that is, changed your perspective?

Jake Battles: 47:48

And so I'd always been try to be a yes man right.

Jake Battles: 47:51

Like you're in sales, you want to say yes and you want to negotiate, and Chris Voss is pretty hardline stances about how to craft the conversation and realizing that saying no is way more valuable than saying yes, and that just really struck a nerve with me, because what it allows you is when you're selling or when you're talking to people about solving problems.

Jake Battles: 48:15

You want to be able to solve all their problems and it is a lot more valuable to focus on the ones that you can solve today and being able to openly communicate that. I would love to be able to do that for you in the future, but that's just not where I'm strongest and if that's really what you're focused on, I would love to connect you with person Y and Z and let us and what I'm strongest with focus on right here and so that I have found very valuable and I got to listen to him speak at F3 and I got to talk to him for a little bit and that was extremely valuable. He has a very intimidating demeanor, like on stage, and you know he's a former hostage negotiator for the FBI and so he has seen some things. But when you talk to him in person, he's a lot more laid back and he's a lot more academic than you might think, which I found interesting.

Blythe Brumleve: 48:57

Yeah, I think he's a lifelong learner because I just I listened he had about a two and a half hour podcast on the Andrew Huberman Huberman podcast and I listened to that twice now and it was just such a masterclass on just the conversational techniques to in order to have both sides win or not I mean, maybe your side lose a little bit less on, you know, an important negotiation, but it's, it was really eyeopening enough to where now that book is on my must purchase list and so that's that's the next step in my my Chris Voss journey. Okay, last couple ones here guilty pleasure, tv or movie.

Jake Battles: 49:38

Oh, I love Top Gun. I love Top Gun so much. My mother, my late mother, she loved Top Gun. We used to watch it all the time growing up and I still watch it a couple times. You have the original version. It is my guilty pleasure. Movie Remember the Titans is another guilty pleasure movie. Tv wise. Again, I'm a car nut. I love watching Top Gear and the Grand Tour, which were just staples growing up. As a car person, I still watch those. I've watched tons of YouTube videos about car stuff that brings me no value. The information that I know about cars, like just looking out in a parking lot. I can tell you way more information about that that bring me no monetary value whatsoever and it frustrates me to know. And that that's the information that resides in my brain.

Blythe Brumleve: 50:23

Well, I would argue that it's a good break from your day to day job duties and being able to have those kind of hobbies. It just makes you more refreshed, I think, coming into your day to day job. So I wouldn't call it useless, but it's. I'm filled with useless information as well, but I do know that it helps me when I can sort of step away from the grind of this job and then, you know, be able to relax a little, watch my you know trash reality TV and then come back and be like OK, now I can crank that article out.

Jake Battles: 50:53

Right Perfect.

Blythe Brumleve: 50:55

All right, last one here, and I might have one if you don't have one. But what is your favorite supply chain or logistics fact? I said it earlier, but just in case I'll hold it for reference.

Jake Battles: 51:07

The 75% of a trailer's life is spent detached from a truck. That one is a doozy. I yeah, I mean that's. That's a really good answer. That was a mind bending answer when I started wrapping my mind around that one and for the sake of time I will agree, but I think that is really good.

Blythe Brumleve: 51:27

Nice. Well, that is a great way to round out the relatable eight questions that I ask on this show Now. Now, jay, any any last minute things that you want to mention, anything you feel that's important to talk about.

Jake Battles: 51:39

You know that we haven't already discussed I would just think that if you find the idea of elasticizing your trailer pulley they're spinning it up, spinning it down finding ways to drive efficiency within your organization, either to procure equipment or to reposition. If any of this sounds remotely interesting to you, please reach out. Like I, I am not a hard salesy guy. I love to talk shop. Another reason why I like doing these podcasts is that I'm just fascinated by the challenges that anybody and everybody faces.

Jake Battles: 52:14

My wife calls it my Florence Nightingale Syndrome is that I just have this innate desire to wanna talk and learn and help people, and so if you're thinking about ways that you might wanna use trailers in the future, that you've missed, on some opportunities that you think you'd be curious to know how it might work, please reach out. I will be happy to talk to you. My team would be happy to talk to you. If you offer telematics and you listen to this and you wanna know how you can get involved, I'd love to talk to you about that as well. That's a big driving force for the success of our business. But, just in general, I'm always happy to talk supply chain challenges, and it's just so happens that in this current stage of my journey. I'm focused on the trailing assets of the supply chain.

Blythe Brumleve: 52:52

Great answer. Where can folks follow you? Follow more of your work. I get connected with Repower. You know all that good stuff.

Jake Battles: 52:59

So we're Repower team on ex, formerly known as Twitter. We have Repower socials on Facebook. On Instagram I am on LinkedIn, jake Battles Repower's on LinkedIn. We're doing a lot of really cool posts right now supporting women for March, really highlighting some of our customers and our employees that are really driving forces behind Repower and the community that we represent.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:24

Yeah, super smart for the month of March. So, jake, this was an awesome conversation. We went in a variety of different ways and you handled it all flawlessly. So thank you again for coming on the show and this was a pleasure talking to you.

Jake Battles: 53:38

You as well. Now I'm gonna put you on the spot because my marketing team wants me to get a screenshot of us, and I'm happy to do this on the air because you can cut it out later if you like. But I need you to smile so we can get a screenshot, because we're gonna do a teaser for this. So in three, two, one, perfect.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:56

Yeah, well, that was great.

Jake Battles: 53:58

I'm actually gonna leave that part in Perfect.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:05

I hope you enjoyed this episode of Everything Is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. Subscribe to the show, sign up for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everythingislogisticscom. And in addition to the podcast, I also wanted to let y'all know about another company I operate, and that's Digital Dispatch, where we help you build a better website. Now, a lot of the times, we hand this task of building a new website or refreshing a current one off to a co-worker's child, a neighbor down the street or a stranger around the world, where you probably spend more time explaining the freight industry than it takes to actually build the dang website. Well, that doesn't happen at Digital Dispatch.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:48

We've been building online since 2009, but we're also early adopters of AI, automation and other website tactics that help your company to be a central place to pull in all of your social media posts, recruit new employees and give potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business. Our new website builds start as low as $1,500, along with ongoing website management, maintenance and updates starting at $90 a month, plus some bonus, freight marketing and sales content similar to what you hear on the podcast. You can watch a quick explainer video over on DigitalDispatchio. Just check out the pricing page once you arrive and you can see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'll see you all real soon and go. Jags Haven't had time to make effort when opening a digital portal EVO.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.