Cargo Chief’s evolution toward multi-broker freight platform

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The Cargo Chief company, formerly a tech-enabled broker that has since sold off that part of its business, announced the release of the latest version of what it calls its C4 platform — version 2.0 it pitches to brokers as “the most complete and informative database of trucking carrier lane preferences and availability in the OTR (over-the-road) industry.”

Utilizing a myriad of sources for the carrier-provided data it makes available to brokers to save time in the process of matching with carriers on available loads, C4’s 2.0 platform, says company CEO Russell Jones, hopes to make good on that goal. Simply put, reducing the number of phone calls for both sides of the transaction and “quickly identifying the top carriers best positioned for a load.”

Jones came to the truckload world via a previous business the tech entrepreneur started in headsets, where he experienced difficulty arranging transport. After launching Cargo Chief some years ago amid a profusion of similarly-focused tech-enabled brokerage businesses, Jones and company ultimately saw a potentially greater value in their data-heavy platform to other brokers. “We wanted to grow our C4 network very quickly,” he says, so “we unencumbered ourselves of being a broker” and sold Cargo Chief’s book of business to another broker.

The relationships it made with carriers as a broker, however, continued when it comes to lane-preference and other data, Jones says. “When we were a broker ourselves, we established relationships with 5,000 carriers there.”

Today, when a new broker comes onto the C4 platform, if the broker wants to see the carriers it has relationships with on the platform, the broker supplies the contacts and “we reach out to the carriers on behalf of the broker,” Jones says.

This example email to a carrier with a load offer illustrates how brokers’ use of the C4 system can present to carriers on the other end.This example email to a carrier with a load offer illustrates how brokers’ use of the C4 system can present to carriers on the other end.

There are a myriad ways carriers can communicate and/or update their availability and/or lane preferences and overall capacity, whether one truck or hundreds more. The most simple ways for owner-ops and small fleets, Jones says, are via a capacity email to trucks@cargochief.com; and for owner-operators, preferences often are shared via the carrier page on the Cargo Chief website, where “they can tell us their favorite lanes,” with a certain amount of granularity.

If the system is working as intended, lane-preference information then guides what brokers utilizing the system see when they’re looking to move a particular load along a particular lane. The illustrated module above for carrier input is available via the Cargo Chief carrier page on its website.If the system is working as intended, lane-preference information then guides what brokers utilizing the system see when they’re looking to move a particular load along a particular lane. The illustrated module above for carrier input is available via the Cargo Chief carrier page on its website.

“We’re really accelerating the ability for the broker and carrier to find a match faster,” Jones says, calling it “matching on steroids.” Brokers can utilize C4, too, to help cement relationships with carriers already in their network, and vice versa, with views of those they’re already connected with, versus those haven’t, relative to a particular load’s lane, type and timing.

This illustration shows the myriad ways carriers can choose to share lane preferences and/or histories with the C4 platform.This illustration shows the myriad ways carriers can choose to share lane preferences and/or histories with the C4 platform.

Various other data sources are available for carriers to opt into for more dynamic information sharing, of the type covered recently in Overdrive‘s series on data, part of which covered the continued evolution of freight platforms in the wake of the ELD mandate and profusion of tracking technology. The C4 route and lane intelligence database is also driven in part by integration data from transportation management systems (including particularly the Ascend TMS), ELDs, and “surmised data from load histories” from matches made in-platform, the company says.

As with other matching services, the C4 platform enables a carrier generally to broadcast availability to a wider network of potential freight sources, yet Jones believes the multifaceted methods of info and preference sharing available in C4 distinguish it. He hopes that makes it “easy for the carrier to do business with us,” he says, adding: “it’s also free for the carrier.”

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