Schneider will be Jeff Silver’s first Mastery Logistics Systems customer

A power-only carrier pulls a Schneider trailer.

Mastery Logistics Systems came out of stealth mode with a major customer announcement and outlined its long-term plans.

After trading ended on July 7, Schneider (NYSE: SNDR) announced a strategic investment in Mastery Logistics Systems to further the companies’ collaboration. Schneider, the Green Bay-based carrier, recorded revenues of about $5 billion in 2019: About half of the business is truckload, while the rest is split between intermodal and logistics.

Mastery was launched in 2019 by logistics industry veteran Jeff Silver to fill a gap in the transportation management system (TMS) space. Silver says there are still no modern software platforms built for very large, sophisticated transportation providers, and his decades of experience at American Backhaulers, C.H. Robinson, Coyote Logistics and UPS carry weight in the industry.

“What you can buy off the shelf doesn’t get the job done for companies at scale,” Silver said.

In particular, there are major gaps in how complex transport companies’ assets and nonasset logistics divisions interact, and how those service offerings are creatively leveraged for large shippers with private fleets.

How Schneider will implement Mastery

Mastery’s engineers have been working with Schneider for about three months: learning the business, studying its operations and how its software and people interact, and strategizing about the best place to start. 

The first place that Schneider will use MasterMind, Mastery’s platform, is in its logistics division. Schneider’s freight brokerage has a layer of added complexity because it also brokers power-only capacity, using third-party trucks to move Schneider’s fleet of 38,000 “orange boxes” for Schneider’s customers. In October, super-users on Schneider’s IT team will begin working with the environment before it goes live in the orange box group and the larger brokerage. Schneider’s dedicated operation will be next, Schneider’s tractors and trailers work alongside the private fleets of some of Schneider’s largest customers.

“Jeff and his team have been very involved,” said Shaleen Devgun, executive vice president and chief information officer at Schneider. “Jeff spent a few days just observing the brokers, seeing how we’re doing things, and then offering his very direct feedback. He was spending time with our brokers, seeing how orders come in the door, and watching how our decision science integrates with the TMS. He’s working to reduce latency in that space and give better visibility to our customers, first appreciating how it works, then through multiple sessions, saying, ‘This is where simplification is possible; this is where a lot more automation is possible.’”

For his part, Silver says he’s been having a blast learning how to run an asset-based transportation network at Schneider these past few months. 

“The Schneider folks we’ve been dealing with are really good, really knowledgeable,” Silver said. “It’s been a real pleasure the whole way. We’ve learned a lot from the o-box work already, which has taken us relatively far down the road for what we need to do to be able to manage assets.”

Devgun: Mastery is unique

Devgun specifically mentioned two points of differentiation that stood out about Mastery. The first was Silver’s deep industry experience: “He understands the whole value chain so well, and knows how to create and ramp businesses in the space. That’s unique in itself.”

The second difference was that automation is native to the MasterMind platform. Silver said he’s been writing algorithms to match trucks to loads since 1984.

“The core components of intelligent automation are built into the native product as opposed to trying to do something to a prebuilt product,” Devgun explained. “The two easiest things to add in transportation are people and capital, and the hardest things to take out are people and capital — but that automation is built into the DNA of MasterMind.”

Today, Mastery has about 130 employees. Thirty engineers are in India, and there are U.S. teams in Chicago; Champaign, Illinois; Omaha, Nebraska; and Minneapolis. The long-term vision, Silver said, is to work with about 100 customers. Roughly 20 of those would be transportation companies, especially those that mix nonasset logistics services with assets, and perhaps 80 would be very large shippers whom those transportation providers have in common as customers. 

“If we could do that with some of the biggest players in the game, we’ll be able to take automation beyond what anyone’s been able to do, by a lot. We’ll be able to add fluidity, immediacy and responsiveness,” Silver said.