Exploring NFI's Growth Journey with Lean Solutions Group

Susana Vargas
January 31, 2024

As a logistics powerhouse spanning in United States, Canada, and Colombia, NFI faced both challenges and opportunities in an evolving market of integrated logistics: a post-pandemic outcome with hundreds of unanswered questions.

In an effort to navigate these uncharted waters, we engaged in conversation with key players from NFI, including Dave Roaring and Jeff Kanterman. Their experiences shed light on the transformative journey NFI embarked upon, and particularly, their strategic partnership with Lean Solutions Group.

Unveiling a Game-Changing Alliance

The initial encounters between NFI's President of Integrated Logistics Solutions, Dave Roaring, and Lean Solutions Group's CEO, Rob Cadena, occurred during the pre-pandemic years of 2018-2019. However, it wasn't until the pandemic hit that the necessity of a strategic partnership became evident.

"In June 2020, we started with our first four Lean Solutions Group people. It's been like gremlins – we had four, and the next thing I knew, we had 30."

The economic impact of the pandemic led to job uncertainties, not just for NFI but also for Lean Solutions Group. It was during this challenging period that Rob Cadena approached Dave Roaring with a proposition that went beyond conventional business dynamics. There was a shared recognition that, in times of crisis, fostering collaboration could not only mitigate challenges but also create a pathway for shared growth.

As the partnership progressed, NFI's approach to scaling with Lean Solutions Group showcased an adaptable and ambitious trajectory. The collaboration has experienced fluctuations in the number of resources engaged, reaching peaks of over 100 at times. The strategic foresight of NFI allowed us to optimize operations by adjusting the resource allocation.

Expressing anticipation for the future, NFI aims to double the engaged resources within the next year and envisions a subsequent doubling over the following couple of years. This growth trajectory serves as a testament to the success of their partnership and reflects the confidence NFI places in Lean Solutions Group's capabilities. It illustrates a commitment to not only navigate challenges collaboratively but also to seize opportunities for sustained expansion and operational excellence.

NFI’S Expanding Footprint with Lean Solutions Group

Today, three divisions of NFI benefit from Lean Solutions Group's services, totaling approximately 65 dedicated individuals. Despite industry challenges, the distribution team witnesses significant value as they explore innovative ways to leverage resources in Colombia.

Dave Roaring emphasizes the historical challenge of integrating offshore labor into high-service businesses like freight brokerage. Lean's distinctive approach, focusing on career development and creating opportunities for growth in Colombia, aligned perfectly with NFI's ethos.

"Lean does it differently, approaches managing their people differently, really wants to create careers for people here in Colombia."

Scaling Opportunities and Future Growth for NFI

Jeff Kantermine, Senior Vice President of the Transportation Management Division, shares insights into the evolution of NFI's collaboration with Lean. The journey has since then witnessed significant growth and expansion in the services provided by Lean.

"Our group has expanded; we've acquired businesses, and through that growth, we've leaned on your organization to help support that growth."

Jeff discusses the seamless scaling process with Lean Solutions Group, emphasizing the transition from tactical back-office functions to more strategic roles.  Jeff underscores the significant role of back-office functions, such as pricing and frequent payment.

"As our group expanded, incorporating new businesses, we've leaned on your organization to help support that growth."

The evolution from back-office tasks to strategically pivotal roles within the collaboration reflects NFI's commitment to staying agile and positioned for sustained growth. The Transportation Management Division expects to double its Lean resources within the next year and sees further growth in the coming years.

"Within the next 2-3 years, we expect that group to double again to roughly 30-35 resources."

Jeff emphasized the significance of a true partnership, noting that Lean is not merely a service provider but an integral part of the NFI team. He highlighted the coaching and collaborative efforts that have shaped the seamless integration of Lean's resources into NFI's operations.

The partnership has not only facilitated the scaling of resources but has also enabled NFI to enhance efficiency and visibility. Lean's support in handling tactical work has allowed NFI's senior managers and directors to concentrate on strategic initiatives, contributing to operational efficiency and effectiveness.

A True Partnership with Lean Solutions Group

The collaboration between NFI and Lean Solutions Group, as narrated by Dave Roaring and Jeff Kantermine, exemplifies how strategic partnerships can redefine industry norms. NFI's journey with Lean is a testament to the power of a true partnership, marked by shared values, dedication to growth, and a commitment to creating opportunities for all involved.  

Watch the full testimonial:

If you're seeking a logistics partner that goes beyond services, Lean Solutions Group stands as a prime example of what the right collaboration can achieve in the logistics landscape.

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Susana is a content creator with a passion for research. She has journalism and digital marketing as her professional background. Susana loves music, concerts, movies, and traveling. As a hobby, she collects vinyl records of all genres of music.

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