“Where did the name ‘MacGregor’ come from?” is a question that Jason Ziegler, President and owner at MacGregor Partners, loves to answer. The moniker comes from a draft house in Cary, North Carolina where ownership met as they formed the company.
Ziegler elaborates with a smile, “We looked for a name that was unique and new but didn’t feel pretentious – the way we wanted our company to operate. After several meetings where we failed to agree on the right name for our new venture, we decided to adopt the name of the draft house we met at ‘MacGregor’ and tack on ‘Partners’ to reinforce our desire to focus on longstanding partnerships with our clients.”
According to Ziegler, this focus on “partnership” is the core reason why MacGregor Partners came into existence in the first place, “We didn’t want to be just another vendor to our clients, we wanted to become partners with our clients.” While the company today is known more informally as MacGregor, the focus on partnership is still as important today as it was in 2012.
Founded in 2012, MacGregor sought to provide the JDA/RedPrairie community with a different breed of implementation partner – a partner willing to do whatever it took to ensure successful deployments of warehouse management systems (WMS) and warehouse labor management systems (WLM), and who was also focused on the long-term success and sustainability of the client’s solution.
Using this model MacGregor quickly proved themselves to be one of the preeminent JDA integrators in the industry.
Since 2012, MacGregor has grown from a JDA integrator to a much larger organization with a focus on solving the supply chain technology needs of its clients, further distinguishing itself from its competitors.
Ziegler attributes this distinction to the diverse group of more than 80 employees who have joined MacGregor since 2012.
“Many of our employees have worked inside 3PLs like DHL, Genco, DSC, APL, and XPO, and they bring experience in supply chain technology like WMS, MRP, WCS, WES, integration, analytics, transportation, and automation. With that robust experience pool, we’re able to bring insight and expertise to every facet of a problem. We’re able to address the problem from every angle which leads to quick and efficient solutions for our clients, which typically has not been done within the supply chain industry,” contends Ziegler.
This methodology coupled with the continued success of its JDA consultancy has landed MacGregor on the Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 5000” list of fastest-growing private organizations in America the last three years. For MacGregor, success all comes back to the value-added to their logistics and 3PL clients.
“We’ve expanded our services to better serve a wider range of clients and pride ourselves on being the technology partners for both established and growing 3PL’s. We’re driving the competitive edge and success in the execution and sales cycles of our 3PL partners,” says Ziegler.
MacGregor continues to evolve and has expanded its supply chain software consultancy to support multiple WMS, WLM, and TMS packages while providing “24x7x365” onshore support to every application, integration, and piece of hardware they deploy.
Through deep partnerships with some of the best automation and autonomous mobile robot (AMR) vendors, MacGregor can bring additional technology resources to their clients.
Their ‘Intelligent Warehouse Services’ (IWS) offering focuses on the marriage between technology, automation, and the operation. IWS works to eliminate what folks at MacGregor refer to as “ROI Drift”.
“ROI drift is the all too common practice of vendors overpromising within the sales cycle and under-delivering against those promises during implementation. The vision of our IWS practice is to eliminate ROI Drift from the supply chain industry and our client base. We want every big capital investment our clients make to be a ‘safe’ bet,” states Ziegler.
This expansion in offerings comes from MacGregor’s dedication to actively listen to their logistics and 3PL clients, hear the day-to-day challenges and major pain points, and then develop solutions to help their clients solve those problems.
“Our client base brings the challenges and we bring the technical expertise necessary to find operations-centric solutions to those challenges,” states Ziegler.
Toolbox & Folio – Supply Chain SaaS Products
As MacGregor began to address specific needs for its clients, it invested in an R&D team responsible for building SaaS solutions to solve the problems they kept seeing pop-up across their client base.
MacGregor’s highly successful SaaS products focus on two main problem areas – Supply chain analytics and the digital transformation of supply chain paper-based workflows.
Most in the supply chain and 3PL companies recognize the future of the industry lies in the power of analytics, but many of MacGregor’s clients were dissatisfied with the deployment and results they were getting from their analytics platforms. Why was it so hard to implement analytics successfully?
The MacGregor team realized that most analytics systems rely heavily on the aesthetic appeal of their dashboard visualizations, but the real magic and success of an analytics deployment is in the harmonization of data across multiple systems combined with the domain expertise necessary to weave that data into a clear output that drives precise behavior across an organization.
MacGregor developed Toolbox, a turnkey analytics platform built for the supply chain, to solve those problems.
“Our 3PL client base used a multitude of systems within their distribution network to record, process and analyze disparate data. Each system could offer one small window into the productivity and profitability of our clients’ businesses, but they did not provide a holistic view of what was going on inside those businesses day-to-day. Without that holistic view, our clients could not easily or quickly adapt and adjust their operations. We built Toolbox to provide that vital holistic view for one of the largest and most sophisticated 3PLs, so we know how effective this tool can be. Our Toolbox clients can see across their networks and make changes that have a material impact on their cost to serve and profitability,” Ziegler stated confidently.
MacGregor’s Toolbox deployments focus on predictive alerts and signals that drive behavior change across a multitude of pain points including, labor planning with an aim to reduce overtime spend; drawing causation between facility layout, facility capacity, process, and productivity; inventory mix, facility design, order mix and cube; and, the relationship between the contract and spot market to reduce transportation spend.
“The beauty of Toolbox is its turnkey package that can be deployed across a complex multi-system network with ease and speed while providing the flexibility of self-service to iterate and grow as the business needs change and evolve. Toolbox revolutionizes the way the supply chain and 3PLs access and harness their data to improve their business,” states Ziegler.
Not only is Toolbox a powerful tool inside a 3PL, but it has evolved into a powerful sales tool for 3PLs to win more business.
“Toolbox provides 3PLs with a unique mobile visibility offering that can be leveraged to win competitive deals. The ability to share data with clients and provide real-time visibility offers a unique level of comfort to a client and helps showcase a 3PLs focus on technology and data-driven decision making. 3PLs using Toolbox can demonstrate to their potential customers the value of network-wide visibility and predictive alerts about macro market conditions and allow them to make adjustments and avoid negative impacts to their business,” states Ziegler.
For their second flagship SaaS product, MacGregor turned to solve another industry-wide headache inspired by visiting client warehouses.
In every client warehouse the team visited, they would inevitably come across an aisle meant for saleable product that was being wasted on paper storage. Wouldn’t it be better for their clients, if they could reclaim that aisle and use it to store product instead of non-revenue generating paper? That got the team at MacGregor thinking.
Not only is storing paper wasteful in terms of space and risky to store vital documents in a physical location, but the real impact on cost-to-serve comes from the labor associated with managing, moving, and touching that paper. MacGregor developed Folio to tackle the immense volume of paper generated, managed, and stored by 3PLs and supply chain organizations.
The team wanted to try and quantify the true cost of the paper status quo and aside from the obvious costs of printing and storage, there was significant hidden labor associated with physically managing the paper workflow. Folio reduces or eliminates the paper handling labor spend by automating the workflows and movement of paper.
Folio easily captures documents and automatically groups and stores them, cutting out the manual filing process. From there, Folio automates each additional workflow, from signature capture to final approval, to streamline the process and provide instant visibility.
“Our clients have materially reduced the labor and risk associated with manual paper management while improving enterprise visibility to documents across their business and with their customers,” states Ziegler.
Folio has several unique use cases for 3PLs and their clients:
- Folio provides a 3PL’s customers with an intuitive mobile framework to search for their documents themselves, improving the productivity of multiple departments across a 3PL and the overall customer experience.
- Folio allows operators to capture images real-time and link them to the rest of the documents for that specific action. For example, pictures of a loaded trailer can now be captured and linked to all the shipping documents so that in the event of damage or a claims dispute, a facility has the documentation necessary to prove they are not liable.
- Folio’s flexible workflow automation platform allows gate agents to clear the gate faster with digital signature capture, and documents with complex workflows like QA become incredibly efficient and safe as no signature, document, approval, or process is ever missed.
- Like Toolbox, Folio becomes a value-add for 3PLs within their sales cycle. Showcasing Folio’s ability to streamline paper-based workflows and provide clients with real-time instant access to documents is unique within the industry and provides a powerful sales differentiator.
“With how competitive and thin margins are in the 3PL space, we view the use of Toolbox and Folio in the sales cycle as a mechanism to move the negotiation closer to a sale based on value, not just margin,” states Ziegler.
MacGregor’s Employee & Knowledge Focus
MacGregor’s leadership team recognizes that to continue to solve the challenges their clients face, the company must stay abreast of technology trends and macro conditions while working to attract and retain the best employees. The MacGregor leadership team is steadfast in their belief that their employees are the best resource to protect the current market position of the company and enable future growth.
To foster this inquisitive, client-first culture, MacGregor promotes continued education in the form of supply chain councils, tradeshows, technology events, speaking engagements, and internal presentations many of which they host in their Milwaukee office.
These events and opportunities help employees grow and learn more about technology trends, supply chain fundamentals, and the areas of growth the industry is excited about. These learnings, lessons, and ideas then make it back to the whole MacGregor team, benefiting both the organization and its clients.
“With regards to the logistics industry, we pride ourselves on being true technology experts in our field. Whether this means providing AI and machine learning use cases, knowing how blockchain fits into today’s supply chain, or figuring out how best to weave together distribution and transportation data to materially lower transport costs, we have real-world experience that we love to share and turn into something useful for our clients to move their businesses forward,” notes Ziegler.
MacGregor continues to experience roughly 50% growth year over year, which speaks to the unique value they provide their clients. In looking to the future, MacGregor will continue to focus on R&D and investment in the transportation technology space as their clients battle transportation cost volatility. MacGregor also hopes to work with clients interested in focusing on emerging technology to shape the future of the industry.
“To remain competitive in today’s business world, organizations need to stay in front of the fast-changing landscape of their supply chain partners, vendors, and customer needs. They need a committed technology partner to ensure they don’t get lost or left behind, and that’s what we want to be for our clients. MacGregor is committed to being a logistics technology partner focused on moving the industry forward for tomorrow, while enabling the sales and operational successes of our clients today,” affirms Ziegler.