The Challenging Freight with SiLo Logistics
Episode Transcript

“The most fulfilling part of the job is taking the challenging freight that nobody else wants.”

That’s what Luke Hilko, Co-Founder of SiLo Logistics, said in the latest Everything is Logistics podcast. 

Tackling the challenges in logistics isn’t just what they do. It’s how the company was founded and continues to operate. Daring to launch in the early summer of 2020, Luke and the team bet big on in-person collaboration as a necessity for a modern brokerage to operate, and it’s worked—Quite well. 

Listen in on the convo with Luke as we talk about SiLo’s opinion on cold calls, their perfect 5-star Google rating, and why they are walking the walk regarding customer service. 

Connect with Luke and the SiLo Team: 

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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Blythe Brumleve:

Hello again, I am your host Blythe Brumleve. And I am proud to welcome in Luke Hilco. He is the co founder and VP of partner solutions over at silo. And he is our next guest of everything is logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. Now Luke book before we dive into the full list of questions that I have for you guys, today, give us a little bit of a sense of your background and how you came to co found silo.

Luke Hilko:

Yes, thanks for having us both. First and foremost. So yeah, I started my career in manufacturing, actually. And I worked with a US based manufacturer for almost 12 years, where I got a really good education, on how to run a business, how to run a manufacturing plant, and all the logistics that it takes to be able to manufacture parts on a day to day basis. I also got a really front row education on, you know, the clients and the manufacturers that kind of are the guts of the US economy. And so, you know, one of the things as we head into 2023, that I feel really, really kind of fortunate is that I worked there through 2008 through 2010, when there was a huge, you know, when there was a big recession, right, and so I got a front row seat on the industries that persisted through those times. So that really helped us when we were setting up our business here to key in on some industries and verticals that we knew would persist through the ups and downs that just come to the US economy. So I worked there for 12 years, I moved on to a sales agency in Chicago for about five years after that. It started inside sales team there. And then I and my family was in Nashville, and I was doing a bunch of traveling. So wanted to get back and just work in Nashville, and found a job with a company called keep trucking, which is now motive. And there I met Andy and Matt and Amory. And from there, you know, after keep trucking had decided to shut down their end of the brokerage, we spun off and started silo.

Blythe Brumleve:

Yeah. So there were a couple of things that you mentioned there that were super interesting. So you actually started on the shipper, the customer side of things. So you had a really good inclination of what that manufacturer side of things is looking for. When it comes to a logistics provider? Can you kind of highlight a little bit of the gaps that are maybe the challenges that you experienced on the manufacturing side, and what those problems that you wanted to solve on the shipping side of things?

Luke Hilko:

Yeah, so I can tell you that there's nothing more frustrating than than getting an order, doing all the planning, getting it all the way through the shop, you know, sometimes the lead time on the stuff that we would manufacture would be for six, eight weeks, it get to the dock, your partner is waiting for that to come in, and the truck doesn't show up to pick it up on that day. Like there's so much work that goes into that. And then that one thing, you know, in that one day or two hour span doesn't happen. And the frustration just becomes overwhelming. You know, also on the incoming side, right, you're you're planning a job, you need certain materials to come in to keep the line running, to keep your manufacturing process going smooth. If that materials not coming in, when it said it was going to come in, you know, your planning really gets disrupted. So you know, the frustration that goes along with all of that, and the clear communication that sometimes is not so clear and does not occur. That was what we really wanted to solve. Right? We wanted to be able to just be that partner that could clearly communicate, that could understand what was important within your operations, and then key in on those things to help, you know, drive help you drive that business forward. We really want to give people time back. We want them to be able to focus on the important things in their business, and we want to be that solution that they can rely on to take care of the logistics side.

Blythe Brumleve:

Yeah, that's super interesting because I as I talk to other shippers, they they mentioned that it's not necessarily the main components. It's the component of the component that when that component of the component is missing it just derails the entire progress of of what you're planning and what you're trying to get out the door as soon as possible. So I love that you that you highlighted that. And one of the things that stood out to me too, is that with silo you guys opened up shop I believe in May of 2020 Like at the height of life COVID craziness, can you kind of give us a little bit of an inkling of why you decided to start a business in the middle of like, well, everything is just unknown.

Luke Hilko:

Yeah, the timing was suspect. And there were some, there are a lot of kind of worrisome nights. But, you know, we had we had been planning and we, you know, we knew that we wanted to move forward, we knew that we we trusted in our business plan, we trusted in the people that were willing to take the leap with us. So, you know, we took a flyer, and here we are, and I think we're, we're really grateful for the experience that we had with each other, to take that risk together, as we continue to take risks that you do when you're trying to run a business and grow business. But you know, that that sort of trust that we gained taking that risk helps us continue to move the business forward.

Blythe Brumleve:

And so when you it wasn't sort of just a fly, obviously, it wasn't a fly by night decision to start in May, where you guys, how long? Were you guys building up? Before you decided to open up the company? Was it a several month long process? Or is this always kind of been, you know, in the works for you to eventually join, you know, a logistics company or a logistics provider?

Luke Hilko:

Yeah, it had been, you know, a couple months in the process, the decision on our last place of business to shut down, you know, kind of had opened up those doors. And so when we knew that decision was going to be made, you know, we looked at our options there. And we started to take a serious look at the perspective or at the prospect of opening up silo.

Blythe Brumleve:

Yeah, cuz I think that sometimes when we make those decisions, especially to start a company, you're almost sometimes forced into it by situations that you can't control. And so almost like starting a business is putting something back into your control. Is that Is that a fair assessment?

Luke Hilko:

Yeah, absolutely. Right. I mean, you start to get, you know, what you believe is a lot of control. We talked about in here, control what you can control, right? And logistics, there's so many things in the brokerage space, there's so many things that you can't control. So if you can just focus on what you can control, there is a lot of reassurance in that.

Blythe Brumleve:

And so when you guys are speaking of controlling what you can control, you know, I was listening to one of your interviews or not necessarily your interview, but another silo interview on put that coffee down. And it also mentioned that you guys were back in the office full time in June of 2020, which is what said in the interview, that was a very strategic decision that you guys made. And you felt like it helped you guys grow much more quickly. Can you explain the thought process that went into the fact of while everybody else is thinking of remote solutions, why you guys decided to go back into the office so quickly.

Luke Hilko:

When you're when you're starting up a business, when you're when you're looking to build a culture, when you're looking to implement process, right, and really get everybody that's a part of that on board with the processes that need to be done to give your partners the best experience. And in the transactional nature, that is a freight brokerage, it's just really important to be next each other and have that quick communication. And we just felt like we, you know, could semi replicate that remotely over slack. And you know, phone calls, but it naturally is just slowed down. And so we, you know, strategically said, Hey, let's get into the office. Before we did that we put sound processes in place, about spacing about how we were going to handle when we got news that somebody who knew somebody was positive. We had great direction from, you know, a great HR leader that we have, and we put the processes in place. And, you know, it was nice that we got a really good deal on office space to

Blythe Brumleve:

pick Yeah, that's probably the perfect time to buy some officers in the middle of what everybody else is scrambling and working remote. And yeah, I love that answer, because that's probably set you guys up pretty nicely because I agree that freight brokerage role is one of those roles that just it's very difficult unless you're a freight agent, that is very difficult to to have that collaborative environment, through electronics through email through through slack. It's just very challenging. You need those quick responses, that quick collaboration, and not everybody can handle that when it comes to a remote environment. Now, you should always think

Luke Hilko:

about like that. It's just like a giant game of telephone, right? And so Logistics is just a giant game of telephone. And so you know, if we could eliminate that eliminate that game of telephone Phone, you know, working in the model that we were in getting people next to each other, there's less chances for things to go wrong,

Blythe Brumleve:

right, because you're communicating constantly with people that are outside of your organization. And so if you add on that extra layer of communicating with your entire team, outside of the normal, you know, operating environment that that just adds more and more time. And, you know, when people are looking to get back their time, that that put that throws a wrench, I think in the whole plan. Now, for you guys, as far as like your processes are concerned, you know, there was one of the videos on your website that that mentioned that you are very much a carrier first, and you focus on the dispatcher and the carrier relationship. And it listening to the video, it sounds like you put a really strong focus on the training aspect. So whereas, you know, comparative to a lot of the, you know, some other big time brokerages where they just pulled a kid fresh out of college, and they sit them down at the phones, and they just give them a book of you know, a bunch of cold leads. And this is, you know, the way to earn your stripes, you guys take a different approach. Kitt, can you break that down for us on why you focus so much on the carrier and the dispatcher relationship?

Luke Hilko:

Yeah, absolutely. And so we always kind of look at it, you know, we're a third party, right. And so when we work with our shipper partners, you know, we always want to get for the type of freight that we move, which is open deck, Project style, for the most part, you know, the devils in the details, you need to get a lot of details down to the, you know, 10th of an inch, if you're talking about moving something legal versus oversize, right. So you need to get all those details. And when we work with our shipper partners, you know, it's really important that we're getting those details from them, right. And we're an extension of that to the dispatcher and the driver. And we want to make sure that we're passing along all of those details. And we want to make sure that the dispatcher and driver experience is that they know what they're getting into right clear communication, they know exactly what they're picking up, they know how it needs to be loaded. They know the equipment that they need, whether it's straps, chains, you know all of that stuff, tarps size of tarps, and that we can help them understand, you know, the situation that they're going to get into if they choose to take that load. So we really want to pass along all those details, we want to be clear in our communication, because we when we have clear communication, everybody has a better experience, the dispatcher and driver have a better experience, we have a better experience. And our shipper partners have a better experience. And we want to be able to bring everybody a smooth experience. So everybody else can continue to focus on what moves their own individual businesses forward. And if we don't train our people and help them understand and respect, you know, the details that are needed to execute on the type of freight that we work with, you know, they may without their own knowing, just put somebody in a bad situation. So we methodically move them through a training program, where they have a mentor, they work under that person, we have a trainer, who has, you know, sat in the seat before we moved him into the training role. His slogan is caring is cool. And he's right. You know, when you care about the work that you do, you're going to do better work. So, you know, he instills that early on, they have mentors, we want to make sure that they can carry on the silo brand and do things the silo way.

Blythe Brumleve:

And so when you're putting, say a new broker that comes into your organization, how long are they sitting in that training role, before they're handed maybe a book of business, or they're, you know, going out and sourcing their own customers,

Luke Hilko:

yet, we really don't like to, you know, give a timeline just to give a timeline, right, we have goals, we have checkpoints, on the things that they can do, you know, kind of the production they can do within the training role and helping operations. You know, we say around here, people are our product, because they are, we don't sell a tangible good, right. So it is our people that are interacting with both partners that represent silo that are our product. So we want them to learn the operations inside and out. So when they move on to get in a chair to start calling cold calling, you know, shipper customers, that they clearly understand the service that they're selling, because they've done it themselves. And so, we don't like to put a timeline on it because people learn at different paces too. But you know, we just, we just make sure we offer them the education that's out there that we know it takes to be successful, and then we pay attention to their progress through time. checkpoints have metrics that we've come up with. And when they pass certain metrics, then we feel comfortable that they're set up to be successful. And that's the thing at the end of the day, we, when we're investing, you know, in our people, we want to make sure it's our job as leaders to make sure that they're set up for success. And so, you know, we put these together where we feel like hey, once you've hit this mark, you're set up to be successful. We're gonna give you that opportunity now.

Blythe Brumleve:

This episode is brought to you by SPI logistics, the premier freight agent and logistics network in North America. Are you currently building your freight brokerages, book a business and feel that your capabilities are being limited due to lack of support and access to adequate technology? At SPI logistics, we have the technology, the systems and the back office support to help you succeed. If you're looking to take control of your financial future and build your own business, with the backing of one of the most successful logistics firms in North America, visit SPI three pl.com. To learn more. I would love to dive into a little bit of the cold calling philosophy because I am someone who I sat next to the broker floor and I listened to brokers all day, make those cold calls, and I swear to myself, I would never be someone who cold calls. What is I guess sort of the the art of the the broker cold call? Is there anything that you guys really focus on? Or is it really just finding good customers that that fit your profile?

Luke Hilko:

Yeah, I think it's it's definitely that right? I mean, you got to know what you do well, and then you got to know the profile of the partner that may need that service, right? It's a different kind of beast, you have to be a different individual. Right? I think we talked around here like water off a duck's back, right, you're gonna get 99 noes. And you might get 20. More before you get your one. Yes. But really, it's about us being curious, right, understanding the questions to ask, understanding, if you're going to be able to get into that partners operations to understand where their problems are, so we can be a solution provider. So it's really around curiosity, humbleness and resilience, I think is what really can bring the best out and in a cold color.

Blythe Brumleve:

What about that just, I guess, sort of the modern day challenges. Nobody wants to pick up the phone anymore? How do you guys get around that?

Luke Hilko:

I mean, we talk all the time, the phone is your friend. And like you, I mean, you have you got pushed people to pick up the phone. I mean, everybody grew up now grows up texting, whatever. I mean, the phone is dead, right? But when when when people understand how valuable a phone conversation can be, over an email or text conversation, how much is left to interpret on those means of communication, versus when you have a phone call, and you have a chance to hear tone, which is much like understanding body language if you're talking to someone right face to face. Also, the ability to ask follow up questions when you hear certain things said. So you know, we try to coach through that. We try to help people understand what a good conversation sounds like. And we really just, like I said, encourage people to utilize those different tools in their tool belts. And we really like to magnify how much success the phone can bring us. But yeah, it's something that's talked about hourly around here.

Blythe Brumleve:

And that's a lot of the the freight broker subreddits that I go on. And I read, they talk about their different strata, there was one freight broker in particular, that said that his strategy was to cold call, and then immediately, like five minutes later send an email with a breakdown of what he wanted to talk to them about, if they didn't answer, and he said that that combination approach was really successful for him. So I'm wondering if like, are you using any other, you know, cold emailing as well? Or are you you know, connecting with them on LinkedIn? Or is it a kind of a combination approach? Or just a case by case basis?

Luke Hilko:

Yeah, it's, it's definitely a combination approach, right? You've got to kind of try to show your value through all different mediums because you don't know which one they're paying it to a paying attention to initially, right? If you have that first connection, then you can kind of understand hey, what type of communication do they want to have? And how am I going to continue to show our value? But yeah, email, phone calls, socials, you know, whatever that may be handwritten cards, like the whole, you know, the whole kind of gamut of, hey, we want you to understand that we have the expertise here. We really believe we can provide a solution for you. If you'll give us the opportunity to just have a conversation

Blythe Brumleve:

Yeah, I mean that that was one of the things that when I had a desk phone, I think that you know, is when I worked in an office and I had a desk phone, I got cold calls much more frequently. But I also listened to them much more often, if I get a cold call on my cell phone, there's zero chance of picking up. So I think that the desk environment definitely helps to for a lot of these folks.

Luke Hilko:

Yeah, it does. And the other thing that's, you know, interesting about it in this world, is that, obviously, we're not the only ones reaching out to these people. So, you know, you'll talk to a prospect and they'll say, Hey, I get 1015 25 calls like this a day, right? And so, you know, you really have to be able to differentiate yourself. And that's another reason why we like people to be in the operations chair, because they live those experiences. And then they can tell those stories that are believable, right? If you try to tell somebody else's story, it's never as funny. It's never as believable, right? So we want people to have those experiences. So when they do get that opportunity, when that person picks up, they can tell those stories that they've lived, that resonate and are believable.

Blythe Brumleve:

Going back to the carrier side of things a little bit, you know, we often hear like, oh, you know, marketing speak, we prioritize our carriers, we take care of our carriers. But you guys are actually like, you prove it as well, because you have a perfect five star rating on Google, which is, you know, I've worked for brokerage offices before and it is never five stars. And that was constantly having to manage the bad reviews that we would get from carriers. So how are you guys, both getting that I guess that great are prioritizing that great relationship with the carriers? And then so much so that they're going to go leave you a perfect five star rating online?

Luke Hilko:

Yeah, I mean, that's just a testament to our operations team. And we really just try to be the ones that we just think about, you know, if the drivers in a situation, what would they want. So if they're calling us we pick up the phone, right? If they're having trouble at a pickup or delivery, because something's not going as we said it would go, we're there to pick up the phone and talk to them. When we tell them, hey, we're going to reach out to someone and get back to you, we get back to them, right? We paid attention like we should, the drivers job is hard, we know they only get paid when their wheels are spinning, if they're sitting because it's not their fault. Well, they should be compensated for that. So we do that we you know, we pay quickly, our accounting department does a great job, you know, in their relationships with the drivers, we just try to be a good partner partnership is one of our values. Here, we talk about internal and external partnerships. And on the external partnerships, we talked about the carrier partnership and the shipper partnership. So you know, it's kind of talk around here, too, is the golden rule, right? So if we can just execute on that and be there for the drivers, you know, we're happy that it has brought an experience to our drivers that leads them to leave the reviews that they they leave, you know, we have people that come in for interviews, and they're we're looking for you're looking through your views, when we first saw him, we thought that was definitely just like gonna be bots, right. And then I started reading through them. And they're like, actually people with like actual stories, and you can tell that they've actually had experiences. And we're super proud of that, because we aim to be one that would be there on both sides of the equation. And we want to have all of our partners have that experience. And like I said, it's a testament to the people on the floor who are doing it every day.

Blythe Brumleve:

And you guys have been in business for a little over two years now, I believe. And with the business so for, I think, yeah, I've read that you guys are up to 50 million in revenue already in just a very short time. And you mentioned that, you know, partnerships are a big one of your core values is is that a safe assumption that partnerships, and maybe some of your other core values are a big reason of why you got to 50 million so quickly?

Luke Hilko:

Yeah, I mean, it's, it's, it's living our mission, which is to redefine the perception and capability of the brokers role in the supply chain chain, and then talking to the team and all of our actions being through our values. So it's partnerships, it's trust, it's adaptability, it's diligence. You know, all of those things that we're able to execute on accountability, being accountable to each other in the office, being accountable to our partners on both ends, you know, that helps us be able to continue to give the partner experience that our partners want to partner with us, right? Because partnership is a two way street. You can't have a one sided partner. So that's not a partnership. So I think when we do those things every day, and we continue to teach those things across into all aspects of our business. Yeah, I believe that's why our partners continue to come back and continue to want to work with us.

Blythe Brumleve:

So that's super interesting. Have you ever had to fire a customer? So because they weren't

Luke Hilko:

saying no, we know when to say no. Right? Which, which, you know, when you have young people in the business, especially like young salespeople, right, we talked about half years ago, we heard one thing, it's gonna be all ours, like, it's not gonna have ourselves here. So, yeah, I mean, we know what when you know what you're good at, right? And you know what your limits are. And you can tell your partner's no to something instead of, hey, we'll do it all. Because that's not us. We're not a, you know, hey, let us come in, look at your total transportation we've got, we offer all modes, and we'll take care of everything that's on us. We're very niche and focus on what we do. So we know what we do really well. So I think our partners only gain more confidence in that when they asked us to do something. Yeah, exactly. And trust when they ask us to do something, and we know when to say no.

Blythe Brumleve:

Yeah, that I think that's super important for a lot of businesses to understand. It's sometimes saying no, it leads to so many more paths within the futures for stuff that you can say yes to. But if you're constantly bogged down by the things that you said yes to that you really can't fulfill them, it's just going to be just a circle of, you know, just endless trying to get to that place where you, you probably would have been much faster. Had you said no to that opportunity.

Luke Hilko:

Yeah. And you can just damage the partnership by you know, you're saying yes, not maliciously, you're saying yes, because you just want to try, but you try, and you've never done it before? And then it doesn't go well? Well, you know, you still said yes, he's still tried, but it didn't work out. And they want it to workout. So,

Blythe Brumleve:

exactly. I'm curious. So it seems like you guys have made so many great decisions, you know, when launching the business? And, you know, it's been close to three years that you guys have been in operation? I'm curious, if you were to start a company today, if you were to start silo all over again, today, is there anything that you would do differently, given the current market conditions,

Luke Hilko:

we got kind of a list of those things that we would do. You know, it's reflection is powerful, right. And if you have the ability to honestly reflect, you know, you can make changes going forward, to really help continue growth, but some of those things you just can't change? Um, you know, I think, look, I think our training program is great. And, you know, I would I would take, I would take full responsibility for this, you know, at the beginning, I kind of didn't think we needed a training program, and we didn't implement the training program till probably a little bit later than I wish we would have. Um, you know, I think, when you talk about, from a hiring perspective, building out that profile of the individual that comes in, that's something that we're always trying to refine and change. And at the beginning, you know, we weren't as focused on that we probably should have been, you know, it's the little things, and it's the details that you you need to just constantly pay attention to, when you're trying to start and grow a business, there's so much coming at you. That I just think, you know, there's some things that we would have prioritized at the beginning, that we didn't believe we needed to, but found out the hard way that we did,

Blythe Brumleve:

well said, and I think that too, for a lot of businesses, if you try to perfect everything, you've waited too long, there's some things that you just need to just get it going. And then you can refine the process along the way, because things are going to come up that you can never anticipate that you can never plan for. That's, that's very well said. Now, you know, when you mentioned that things are, you know, coming at you especially for brokers, like when the technology in the space has exploded over the last handful of years. How are you guys prioritizing what tech that your team should be using and what tech to kind of sit back and wait to see if it comes to fruition? Because it's almost it feels like a lot of technology that's out there, but I'm not sure how much of it is really very useful to the day to day work of a broker?

Luke Hilko:

Yeah, so great question. And we've we're fortunate enough that, you know, we've got a internal tech team that focuses on building, you know, our own proprietary technology that we like to talk around here as people enablement technology, you know, and it's focused to the niche that we play in so we build a lot of our tech in house to help our people be more efficient in their day. You know, we're we're basically 100% spot broker to So, you know, we focus a lot on the pricing side of things. And we're pricing in open deck where there's multiple equipment types, different requirements. You know, our origins are the same based on our partner base for the most part. But the type of equipment we're moving is going all over, you know, US, Canada, anywhere in a lot of times into remote locations. So we don't have the luxury of lanes. So when it comes to that pricing, you know, we're just trying to build technology that helps our people and collect that data. That helps our people make faster, more educated decisions that they can be confident in, to help them continue to build out their partnerships.

Blythe Brumleve:

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Luke Hilko:

Yeah, it's all around the planning, right? So So it all starts with just asking the right questions, you know, understanding who the parties are involved, getting hold of getting a hold of those parties to understand, you know, what can be done, what cannot be done, and aligning them, and having a good idea of what it is that we need to do, and having a clear picture so that we can once again, give that clear picture with all the right details to the driver who's going to get themselves into that location. So it's all around the questions. It's all around the planning. It's all around the details. And, you know, we just That's why diligence is one of our core values, because we have to be diligent to all of that. But then at the same time, adaptability is a core value, because we have to be able to adapt when there are things that come up, that inevitably do in those situations that pose a challenge that no one saw, you know, before when we were doing the planning,

Blythe Brumleve:

do you have a like a favorite piece of equipment or crazy thing that you guys have hauled that you over the years of working for silo? Do you have anything that sticks out?

Luke Hilko:

I mean, you know, the folks around here, I mean, they get excited when they move something that's, you know, overweight, like very overweight, you know, 80 90,000 pounds, and they get excited about the stuff that they move that's, you know, 15 feet tall and stuff that's 14 feet wide. You know, to me, to me that the most kind of, you know, fulfilling part of the job is taking the challenging freight that nobody else wants. And to make it simple, you know, we named it simple logistics, sided silos short for simple logistics, because we'd like talking about around here about the philosopher said, sorry for the 10 page letter, right? I didn't have time to write you a two page letter, because it takes that understanding, right, that deep knowledge to be able to simplify something. And so the freight that we target when a move is the most challenging freight but it's our people's experience. It's their deep understanding. It's their knowledge that allows them to make that a less stressful, simplified process for our partners. And that's the stuff that's fulfilling to me every day. And then

Blythe Brumleve:

it gets back to the communication that if you're proper communicating to all parties involved, then it makes those challenging shipments, you know, much, I guess much of a smoother, or as smooth as it can be process, as you could say. Now let's switch gears a little bit to the marketing side of things, because it's very clear that you guys prioritize, you know, your marketing and your branding from the, but I'm curious if that was a decision from the jump? Or is that something that you slowly evolved into?

Luke Hilko:

Yeah, I think we really slowly evolved into that, you know, I think, you know, we definitely knew there was value in building a brand. But at the beginning, there's just so much to get set up. You know, and then, you know, even we were coming up with our first marketing, kind of program, right, I think the last slide I put up on the marketing program was pick up the phone, because I was going to steal our friend, right. And that's going to be our marketing tool, our major marketing tool for quite some time. But the, we started to see other folks around us start to build their brand through socials, and we took notice, you know, and we're in Nashville. And so there's a lot of creative people in Nashville. So we're like, Hey, we should be able to do this too, you know, we should be able to find somebody that can help us build our brand, that understands the power of social media, you know, and building a brand is great for your partners, but also, building a brand is really important to our recruiting. And we wanted to, you know, for people to kind of the candidates to understand what they could anticipate as the experience being with silo. So you know, we luckily fortunately found Tennessee, Tennessee set us up great for success, Tennessee has now moved on to the music industry and couldn't be proud of her for getting a kind of her dream job there. And now Caroline's going to take that torch and continue it on, but it's just, it was the decision to you know, build that brand, but build it the right way. And you know, kind of have that impatience for action, but patience for results. I think marketing sometimes gets a bad name when people invest a bunch of marketing, and then expect a bunch of inbound leads to come in, right? I'm gonna do all this, I'm gonna pay for all these ads, and then everybody's gonna start calling me like, No, that's a dream, right? So, so just slowly building the brand and having that patience, so that it becomes more recognizable within the industry. But then also, you know, through our partnerships with local universities here, that it's a place that people want to apply to want to come into and want to learn more about.

Blythe Brumleve:

Give us a sense of what your how your marketing team is structured. Do you do you have a team within the building? Are you like a, you know, a lot of companies where it's just one person that's kind of tasked with handling it all? Or is it kind of a combo approach with using like an agency or contractors plus somebody in house?

Luke Hilko:

Yeah, so when we like when we first did our kind of when we first did the website, you know, it was Adam and his wife helping out, we got it off the ground. We did a website website revamp where we utilized an agency. And then we made the strategic decision to bring Tennessee in who was our first, you know, marketing person, if you will, brand ambassador is the title that we have. And so, you know, her working with, you know, everybody else, I mean, our PSCs, or partner solutions, executives are the ones that are cold calling, you know, they're, they're building the brand every day, they have a really good idea of what our ICP is, right? They have a really good idea of what resonates with those folks. So it's a lot of cross collaboration between departments with that brand ambassador in the middle being the one who is putting together the content and getting it out.

Blythe Brumleve:

Love that ICP is ideal customer profile. For folks who are unaware it's very rare to hear somebody in logistics actually use that acronym. So I applaud you there because you guys are well ahead of the curve. There. So with a lot of your your focus, where would you say that I see you guys have an account on you know, not Twitter, but you're on LinkedIn, you're on tick tock, you're on YouTube, Instagram. Is there a particular platform that you see the most value in now and moving forward?

Luke Hilko:

Um, I look, I'm, I'm an older man, I don't like I'm not gonna lie on a Facebook account. I've never had one to

Blythe Brumleve:

like, oh, wow, you're one of the rare was

Luke Hilko:

one of the rare ones. So I rely on the team around us. But I think it's really interesting to me how tick tock has progressed. Like, I think it's really interesting to me that younger generation is now using Tiktok as a searcher or engine more than Google. I think that just shows the power of that right. So I also know when I go on to the college campuses that we partnerships with, you know, the kids talk about the silo tick tock account, like they watch it and they know it. So I think tick tock is definitely the one that continues to move the needle forward and probably will continue to go that way. But I just think it's really important that we just pay attention to all that because there's going to be another one that comes on the scene that we're going to talk about in five years that we weren't talking about today.

Blythe Brumleve:

And so as an executive where we're you're mainly focused on just managing the team, whereas you know, maybe the brand ambassador or the you know, the the marketing agency are responsible for handling the day to day when it comes to social media. What does ROI look like to you? What What kind of ROI Are you looking for, as an executive from your from your internal team?

Luke Hilko:

Yeah, so it's a really good question. And just to be completely honest with with you, when we decided to move forward with marketing, we kind of made a decision with each other. And our finance guy that we wouldn't tag it down to like a dollars and cents ROI. I kind of think that's a fool's errand. Now, you know, maybe as we continue to grow, that will that will become clearer, and we will be able to do that. But for me, it's the recruits that come in, right? For me, it's the drivers recognizing us because we hear about the drivers talk about you know, they saw us on Tik Tok, right. I think it's, you know, this experience right now, right, you met Tennessee at freightwaves, we're able to set this up, and we're able to have conversations like this. So you know, these sorts of things, I think, continue to get the brand out there and build that brand awareness. And for right now, with what we're investing in it, we feel very good about the return that we're getting.

Blythe Brumleve:

Are there any parts I guess, the marketing and sales, you know, I guess, sort of system and flow that you guys are setting up? Or that you have set up? Is there anything that you want to expand on in 2023?

Luke Hilko:

Yep, I want I want to help our team have better material to put in front of, you know, prospective clients and our existing partners.

Blythe Brumleve:

That that's likely we're probably going to see that from you guys coming in in 2023.

Luke Hilko:

That's where that's where we would like to put our focus for sure.

Blythe Brumleve:

Anything else you guys got on the horizon for 2023?

Luke Hilko:

Just continuing to try to get a little bit better every day. I think that's just kind of our North Star. Like if we could just continue to work together and try to get better every day. That's when the big things happen.

Blythe Brumleve:

Love it. Well, I think you've shared a bunch of gems during this conversation. where can folks follow more of your work? More silos work all that good stuff.

Luke Hilko:

Yeah. So ship silo.com is our website you can find us on as you said, LinkedIn, tick tock, Instagram. I'm Luke Hilco. You can find me on LinkedIn. I'm also just Luke at ship silo.

Blythe Brumleve:

Perfect Well, Luke, thank you so much for sharing your perspective and and we look forward to seeing you know, even more bigger things coming from you guys at a 2023 I

Luke Hilko:

really appreciate you having me.

Blythe Brumleve:

I hope you enjoy this episode of everything was logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. If you liked this episode, do me a favor and sign up for our newsletter. I know what you're probably thinking, oh God, another newsletter. But it's the easiest way to stay updated when new episodes are released. Plus, we dropped a lot of gems in that email to help the one person marketing team and folks like yourself who are probably wearing a lot of hats at work in order to help you navigate this digital world a little bit easier. You could find that email signup link along with our socials in past episodes. Over at everything is logistics.com And until next time, I'm Blythe and go Jags

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.

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