I recently sat down with Russ Caudell and Jeff Lantz to discuss their first 20 years in business and their future together. Here’s what I learned:
It all began on January 1, 1997. On this day over 20 years ago, Russ Caudell and Jeff Lantz pursued their lifelong dreams of becoming entrepreneurs by opening C. L. Services, Inc. (CLS), a transportation brokerage. They launched CLS with the goal of working for themselves and providing quality, cost-effective transportation solutions while always putting the needs of their employees and customers first.
In the beginning, it was simple. They started the brokerage debt-free with a heavy focus on dry van freight. They worked hard to exceed the needs of each customer and experienced huge business growth. “We moved quickly right out the gate because of our customer relationships. Within the first year in business, CLS generated $3 million in sales,” Lantz remembers. As their clientele increased, so did their specialties. They began hiring experts, and expanded their knowledge base beyond dry van and temperature controlled freight to include flatbed and over-dimensional, produce and LTL shipments across North America. By 2007, they were a $20 million company.
Ten years ago, Lantz and Caudell were having a strategy meeting about how they wanted to be portrayed as in the eyes of their customers. “We knew we had to be proactive and know about problems before they impacted our customers and carriers. And, at the same time, we wanted to always be responsive. We wanted to be known as Prosponsive®!” Caudell says. After realizing Prosponsive® was not a word, CLS went through the registration and trademark process. They also developed a Prosponsive® Promise – to proactively respond and communicate quickly and honestly with all clients and vendors. Ever since, Prosponsive® has become the hallmark and core culture of the CLS brand.
“It is instilled in all of our employees that they must use a Prosponsive® mindset along with being knowledgeable, accurate, and dependable to provide raving customer service to all customers, carriers and co-workers.” Lantz says, “This mindset is what sets us apart from other logistics companies.”
As owners, Caudell and Lantz embody the Prosponsive® mindset through continuous research, process improvement, and the employment of highly qualified employees. “While searching for ways to better assist our current customers, we discovered existing talent within CLS that could create more solutions for our growing client base. As a result, we launched a truck asset company, C. L. Services Transport, LLC (CLST), in 2016. This was the next step to providing dedicated services for our clients,” says Caudell.
As a result of the Prosponsive® brand and the development of CLST, they created a parent company, the Prosponsive® Logistics Group, LLC (PLG), which unified the two companies under one vision and mindset. Customers and carriers can expect to receive the same quality service and high level of expertise from all PLG companies.
Today, PLG’s offices are strategically located in Atlanta’s aerotropolis zone – one of the fastest growing transportation hubs. Their stringent hiring and testing standards for both employees and carriers has yielded them over 75 exceptional employees and strong relationships with vendors throughout the continent.
PLG’s vision for the future is centered around taking care of their people, clients and vendors. Their strongest focus is on continuously promoting a Prosponsive® culture that fosters exceptional customer service. To Caudell and Lantz, the future possibilities are endless. “First and foremost, we will continue to provide a stable brokerage company offering logistics solutions for dry van, temperature controlled, specialized and over-dimensional freight,” Lantz says. “However, within the brokerage, we have plans to further expand our expertise in our specialized and over-dimensional department as well as the fresh foods and food safety division. We want to be known as leaders in these specializations.”
PLG is no stranger to new regulations and the ever-changing times. “We know in order to be successful, we must be one step ahead. We will continue to invest in the knowledge of our people. Staying on top of the regulations and new technology, and providing our customers with a team of experts – this is the greatest service we can provide for our customers and carriers,” Caudell adds.PLG also plans to focus their efforts on expanding their assets in order to serve their clients’ specific needs.
As they grow, they will look into adding more offices in strategic locations throughout the United States. In conclusion, Lantz emphasized, “all of our future moves will be carefully calculated for the benefit of our current and future customers.”