CTSI Marks 50 Years of Freight Transactions and IT Services to Global Shippers

The former Continental Traffic Service charts a course for the next five decades as technology changes the logistics business

The former Continental Traffic Service charts a course for the next five decades as technology changes the logistics business

Memphis — January 31, 2006 — CTSI, formerly known as Continental Traffic Service, began celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with a shorter name but what it said was a longer company history than any other logistics technology developer.

The name change to CTSI is one of many recent changes, including a revamped brand identity and new Web site, but the updates are more than cosmetic, according to CEO J. Kenneth Hazen: "Our name is shorter, but our list of services is much longer."

The Memphis-based firm is a provider of supply chain execution technology and freight invoice services. CTSI's main IT product, the Web-hosted e-CTMS transportation management system (TMS), was built on the company's experience processing more than 200 million transportation-related financial transactions annually.

Following the Remington Route

Founded in 1955 as a freight bill audit and payment service, the company adapted to market and regulatory changes that have since sidelined many of its competitors by expanding into consulting and information technology.

"The traditional freight bill audit and payment industry has passed the same crossroads that the typewriter industry faced 25 years ago," explained Hazen, who has led CTSI since 1982. "We could follow the example of the old Remington Typewriter Company, which thrives today as the Unisys Corporation. Or, we could emulate Smith-Corona, who avoided tweaking their business model because their short-term revenue picture was still bright. CTSI obviously took the Remington route, and we haven't looked back."

CTSI recently introduced data-mining modules to the e-CTMS platform and opened its first European office (in Birmingham, England).

Organic Shift

The newer Information Management Module mines both detailed and summarized data for reporting, analysis and visual depiction of transportation data. The Modeling & Benchmarking Module calculates cost increases or savings by adjusting variables to re-rate previous shipments, generating "what if" scenarios. Like the other e-CTMS modules, they can be purchased separately.

e-CTMS has many of the same features as other transportation management systems (TMS), but the hosted, on-demand suite's analytical tools are supported with a 15-terabyte warehouse of freight transactional data, equivalent in size to the printed collection of the Library of Congress, according to the company.

When asked why a traditional freight-invoice audit and payment service is drifting into the swift and deep waters of the TMS vendor marketplace, Chief Marketing Officer Ken Pehanick offered a simple answer: "We were doing it already. We have been producing custom applications for our freight billing customers for years, so this is a purely organic shift into the TMS field."

Additional Articles of Interest

— Got reverse logistics? Learn how one company's high-velocity "reverse logistics" operation put its ERP system to the test by making pre-owned network equipment available globally. Read more in the SDCExec.com exclusive "5 Principles for a Better Reverse Logistics Operation."

— Supply chain executives can drive profitability ahead if they closely align their supply chain strategies to five universal business plan challenges. Read more in "Collaborate to Innovate," in the December 2005/January 2006 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

— Consumers spent nearly $28 billion on the "Black Friday" after Thanksgiving 2005, up 21.9 percent over 2004's results. Great news for retailers, but a potential nightmare for supply chain executives trying to get the right product on the right shelf at the right time. The lesson: Now is the time to plan for the next peak shipping season. Read more in the "Seasons' Peakings," the Executive Memo column in the December 2005/January 2006 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.