Making the top grade on this year's Certified Transportation Professional (CTP) exam, offered as part of the National Private Truck Council's education division, came as a surprise to Dino Kondos. “This was a big test for me because I really wanted to benchmark myself against the industry,” says Kondos, corporate manager of distribution and logistics for Knaack Manufacturing., Crystal Lake, IL.
“I was pretty confident that I would pass, but I was surprised to get the top score.”
Kondos' confidence stems from what he calls his “trial by fire” experience in transportation and logistics over the last 14 years. Although he started out in sales at Sysco Food Services, Canton, MI, Kondos says his big break came when the company needed someone with extensive computer knowledge to implement and manage its new RoadNet routing and scheduling software package.
He managed the system so well that in 1991 Kondos was transferred to Chicago to set up and run the company's RoadShow system. As operations supervisor, Kondos had to serve 1,200 to 1,300 customers a day.
In 1995, Kondos took his experience to Transitall Services, a for-hire carrier out of Island Lake, IL, where, as operations manager, he dealt with DOT compliance and other over-the-road trucking issues.
The three years Kondos spent at Transitall became particularly important when he joined Knaack Manufacturing in 1998. “We're a private carrier with a fleet of 15 tractor-trailers that originally had virtually no backhauls,” he explains. “My first mission was to find a way to offset fleet costs by getting more freight.”
The company builds a variety of industrial storage equipment, including large toolboxes for construction sites and maintenance garages, toolboxes for pickups and vans, and ladder racks.
One priority for Kondos is to integrate the private fleet more deeply into the company's supply chain. “On the inbound side, we've got lots of raw materials coming our way, such as steel, bolts and paint,” he explains. “On the outbound side, we've got finished tool boxes at our plants that have to be shipped to dealers and customers. I'm in charge of both operations.”
Kondos is “aggressively” going after Knaack's own freight, trying to haul as much of the company's raw materials and finished product as possible. When that isn't an option, he works through a network of brokers and shippers to find cargo. “About 10% of our non-company freight comes from shippers I've known for years, especially from my Transitall days,” he says. “The other 90% comes from brokers.”
A second ongoing priority is to make the overall supply chain function more smoothly at a lower cost. Kondos has established a number of goals to help slim down Knaack's supply chain: decrease the cost of transportation and storage as a percentage of sales, while increasing throughput by 20%; increase inventory turns by 15%; and achieve a 98%-99% inventory accuracy level.
Those are tough goals, so Kondos relies on his direct staff of four managers, 60 drivers, warehouse personnel, and other employees involved in transportation and logistics to help achieve them. “The people who work here are my best resource.”
The CTP program is designed to validate an individual's knowledge of fleet and transportation management. Candidates must have a minimum of five years' experience before they take the exam, which tests their knowledge of complex operational and regulatory issues; their ability to identify and develop potential cost and bottom line savings; and their ability to determine and implement the supply chain and logistics practices that best meet transportation needs and objectives.
The curriculum includes learning how to perform a lease vs. buy analysis, align fleet objectives with corporate strategies, determine and analyze true fleet costs, and evaluate and integrate technology.
“The program is a great learning experience and a great development tool,” Kondos says. “It's allowing me to draw on the experiences of people who've been around a lot longer than I have to see what works and what doesn't. To not take advantage of that would be a shame.”