Much thought goes into the naming game: what's in a name and the impact it can make, as well as the distance it can travel within our industry. One of the newer names to enter our industry is Alchemy—a suite of software products by ALC Logistics, which is a division of Allen Lund Company (ALC). The logistics provider has been a steadfast contributor to the transportation and operation sides of business for decades, and as the company introduces its latest suite of software products, ALC answers what’s in Alchemy and its strategically named offering.
The term—meaning a transformation that is, if not chemical, magical in nature—when positioned as the title for ALC, makes sense. The goal for this suite is to transform business for its customers, making it easier and more efficient because of a catered approach that seems to be part of the company’s DNA.
“It’s going to be easier to get our products out there thanks to this new name. Transportation Management Software, or TMS, can mean different things. There are different types, so just limiting ourselves to that doesn’t fit anymore. We have outgrown just 'TMS’. What we are now offering are products that have evolved due to what our customers have asked us to provide,” Vice President of Operations Kenny Lund shares with me. “About 30 percent of our sales last year, maybe even more, were add-on software solutions for current customers. Not only do they like the products, but they also want more of what we do. We just needed better name recognition. You can’t gain recognition for the high-quality services that you provide unless you have a name and a vision that sticks.”
"We just needed better name recognition. You can’t gain recognition for the high-quality services that you provide unless you have a name and a vision that sticks."
- Kenny Lund, Vice President of Operations, Allen Lund Company
The company’s thought process when deciding on Alchemy was methodic, but not without its humor.
“We thought that the first three letters—A, L, and C—harken back to us, but we added a hemi engine. It’s spelled differently, of course, but that’s the sentiment behind it,” Kenny laughs. “Our software has a hemi engine in it.”
While the produce industry isn’t the only sector reaping the rewards of ALC’s Alchemy, it has seen a significant impact because of the thoughtful design in ALC’s suite of software products.
“This is the first software built specifically for produce. It can handle any product, but it is designed for produce. The average change per dry load is less than a half per load after it’s dispatched, while the average change for a produce load is six. Software really doesn’t like that, so we have built things into our system to be able to handle those changes. If you prorate the load, alter delivery points, or change items on the load, we want to be able to capture all of that information,” Kenny shares with me.
"This is the first software built specifically for produce. It can handle any product, but it is designed for produce."
What makes this system so unique is its approach to business. By making it easier to identify the whole suite of products with the name Alchemy, the varied software can now live under one roof, making the customer’s life simpler as they pick and choose what to use during day-to-day operations. With Alchemy Dock Scheduling, Alchemy LTL (Less Than Truckload), and Alchemy Yard Management, among many other services, the new suite houses all of the transportation software in one place, driving business with the power of a hemi.
“Our system is really adaptable for companies looking for transportation systems,” he emphasizes. “It adapts to how they do business. That’s one of our biggest sales points. Every installation is its own instance, and we make sure that our software adapts to how they work. It’s really getting noticed now. Hopefully, it will be noticed even more with its new name. With produce companies such as Dole® Fresh, Naturipe® Farms, McCall Farms, and Mucci® Farms using various Alchemy offerings, we now have validation of the platform and can expand more rapidly in the produce industry. Hundreds of thousands of loads are running through the systems that continually improve and make our customer more efficient and productive.”
The company’s new name for its suite comes as a result of years of software efforts. Kenny traces these roots back to the mid-90s, when ALC Logistics created its LTL management services—but the company has computerized its software since the mid-80s, well before many others. Ahead of the game, the company has always written its own software, he says with pride, but, as more and more customers came to ALC asking questions and wanting more services catered to their needs, software solutions were created that were designed specifically for those inquiries. This customizable approach, Kenny tells me, has been a real draw for ALC because customers loved it.
“We’re different as a software company. We came from the transportation world and happen to sell software, rather than the other way around. Our whole outlook on the product is different because we also want to be transportation consultants by suggesting ways that we can set it up. We want the system to match how companies do business, and we also consult on other aspects, like where they can set up warehouses and how to do cross docking. We want to be much more engaged if the customer wants that. We are fluent in many languages—we speak in ‘geek’ transportation, produce, and more,” he jokes.
"We thought that the first three letters—A, L, and C—harken back to us, but we added a hemi engine. It’s spelled differently, of course, but that’s the sentiment behind it,"
The new suite’s main buyers, he says with some surprise, have been big installations, not smaller companies like he initially expected. Now, over $3 billion in freight spend is running through the Alchemy systems, and over a million appointments are made using the Alchemy dock scheduling appointment system.
With the suite’s widespread and ever-growing popularity, I can’t help but wonder who is stoking the fire. Kenny amazes me when he reveals that most of Alchemy’s sales are coming through referrals and add-ons from current customers. Now that is a master class in how to keep the customer happy if I ever heard one. One reason, he shares, is the company doesn’t get paid until the system is up and running. As I pick my jaw off the table in astonishment, Kenny fills in the gaps for me, telling me that this software isn’t just something to sell to customers for them to figure out. The company is there with its customers every step of the way. From initial discussions to the rollout, ALC sees the implementation of Alchemy through to ensure all the wrinkles are ironed out.
“We help to bring it all together. When a company brings new software on board, it has far-reaching effects. It impacts sales or buying efforts, accounting departments, order entry departments, and transportation. The fact that we are well-versed in all of those areas, I believe, gives us a tremendous advantage when it comes time for the implementation,” Kenny concludes.
With so many moving pieces, this is where its name comes into play—the transformation Alchemy provides stems from the chemistry and passion from ALC’s work. So, it turns out that there is a lot in a name and the people who stand behind it.