Expert of the Month: Theresa Williams, LTL Sales Manager

August 2, 2018 by Meyer Baron
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Have you ever wanted to get away from it all? Of course you have. Most of us dream about unloading our cares and taking time to enjoy life to the fullest. While most of us only dream about it, Theresa Williams has actually done it.

For Theresa’s mid-life adventure (she doesn’t use the word “crisis”), she sold everything she owned, bought a sailboat in Spain (the Lucky Jack, shown below), sailed across the Atlantic and toodled around islands and South Florida for a year-and-a-half.

Theresa Williams Sailboat Spain

After falling in love with the St. Pete/Clearwater area, Theresa decided it was time to get back into the business world. Of course, she didn’t just go get a great job, she started a new venture called Pearls of Williams, selling pearls and leather jewelry to boutiques on the Florida coast.

To help her run the business, Theresa hired four women who had been victims of domestic violence. Not only did Theresa teach them the business, she sold it to them four years later, and they continue to operate it today.

There are a lot more accomplishments in Theresa’s background, including serving as operations manager for an invisible fence company and running the business side of a successful hotel re-branding company for more than 11 years. But by now, you get the picture. Theresa Williams is an extraordinarily talented and driven woman.

How she came to FreightCenter is yet another interesting part of her story.

Freight and Logistics “In Her Blood”

Theresa grew up in the freight and logistics world. Her father owned a trucking company, from which he retired at the age of 80. He always said it was in her blood. And sure enough, when Theresa returned to the conventional business world, she did so at FreightCenter.

Starting on the sales floor, Theresa was quickly promoted to a position with more responsibility. Today, she manages an inbound LTL sales staff of 40-or-so National Account Managers who use their shipping expertise to assist FreightCenter customers via phone and email. The staff is divided into two teams, each with a team lead. Theresa would like to have another team in place by the end of the year, which means someone will have to step up and earn the right to be a team lead.

We recently caught up with Theresa to get her take on the current state of LTL shipping.

How is 2018 a Different Kind of Year for LTL Freight?

As Theresa sees it, several factors are at work in making 2018 a bit of an outlier year for LTL freight.

The mandated use of ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) has reduced the number of hours that drivers can work in a week. That means it takes more time to move and deliver a load than in the past. There’s also a severe shortage of truck drivers, as young people look for other careers that are not as physically demanding and don’t make them spend so much time away from home.

The combination of not enough drivers plus shipments taking longer to deliver adds up to there being less trucking capacity to carry goods. Shipments are taking longer, and they are more expensive.

Does that Mean it’s Harder to Ship LTL Freight Today?

According to Theresa, that depends.

For the company that ships on a regular or semi-regular basis, shipping is easier than ever today thanks to their 3PL’s ability to guide them through logistics challenges (and save them money).

For the one-time shipper (often an individual), the freight shipping industry can be overwhelming. They expect freight shipping to be like shipping a parcel through UPS or the post office, but it’s not like that at all. First-time or one-time shippers need to take the time to understand how freight shipping works and what options they have in order to produce a successful outcome. FreightCenter National Account Managers are here to help them get that knowledge.

What Does it Take to Be a Success on Theresa’s Team?

As Theresa explained, the surest path to success as a National Account Manager is to follow the processes that have been established for them. By reviewing the metrics for each agent, Theresa can see who is putting in all the work. Those are the agents who are most likely to succeed.

And for those who want to excel, Theresa shares a business lesson on how to make yourself more valuable.

You Have to Have a Shark in the Tank

As Theresa tells it, a fish-seller was shipping his fish live, cross country, and was surprised that they were not bringing in the same return on the west coast that they were on the east, where they were caught.

The fish-seller was advised to put a shark in the tank, with the theory being that as long as the fish felt completely safe in the tank, they would become bored and complacent. When they arrived at their destination, they were not very interesting-looking fish.

Putting a shark in the tank kept the fish alert and in self-preservation mode. Yes, a few fish were eaten on the journey, but the live fish earned a return that more than compensated for the loss of a few fish. That’s quite a business lesson for all of us.

As you can well imagine, FreightCenter feels delighted and fortunate to have Theresa Williams in our “tank.”

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