Legend Transportation Takes the High Road
Sunny Samara (right) founded Legend Transportation in 2006. Robert Moffitt joined the company in 2007. The company has grown tremendously under their guidance.
Legend Transportation’s motto is “putting customers first.”
Case in point: Recently, the Phoenix-based trucking company struck a deal with a major grocer to deliver bread products to its stores on the West Coast. In doing so, Legend Transportation spent about $35,000 to add special equipment to 30 of its trailers so the bread would be locked in place safely while being hauled.
“It’s about providing the assets to the customers to service them the way they need to be serviced,” says Robert Moffitt, Legend Transportation’s executive vice president and director of operations.
Legend Transportation, which hauls goods to more than 30 cities in 12 western states, takes the same approach with all of its customers. “We do that because we want to build relationships,” Moffitt adds. “It’s about having partnerships.”
Establishing partnerships through outstanding customer service is Legend Transportation’s biggest differentiator.
Thirteen years after being founded by Sunny Samara, the president of Legend Transportation, the company has established several partnerships with mostly Fortune 500 companies in the retail and food industries, including Walmart, Target, Macy’s, T.J. Maxx, Ross Stores, General Mills, Coca-Cola and many others. These companies have helped Legend Transportation grow tremendously over the years, which says a lot about the long-term relationships Legend has built with them.
“Our first customer was [Fortune 500 company] Campbell Soup, and we’re still working with them,” Samara says.
Legend Transportation’s offerings include truckload over the road (OTR), dedicated contract carriage and direct-store delivery. It also offers expedited services and aims to increase its business in the temperature control segment as well as e-commerce.
Legend Transportation has grown its business 30% to 40% annually for the last six years, with revenues exceeding $130 million in 2019. The company was hoping to achieve $200 million in sales in 2020 until the coronavirus struck and many of its trucks were grounded. The good news is that business has picked up strongly since July.
A Bring-it-on Mentality
Samara and Moffitt are the trucking firm’s dynamic duo, so to speak. “We’re kind of like brothers from other mothers. We think the same way,” Moffitt says.
Samara was born in Punjab, India, the heart of India’s Sikh community. He came to Yuba City, Calif., in 1996 when he was 22 and drove a truck for a company for three years. When he was 25, he purchased his own truck and hauled for a few companies, including Sysco Foods and U.S. Foods, throughout the continental United States.
In 2006, Samara began Legend Transportation. At first, the company hired owner/operators along with their tractor-trailers and provided them with freight to haul. In 2012, the company began purchasing its own tractor-trailers. It now has more than 800 tractors and more than 4,000 plated trailers. The company has four strategic dispatch locations: Phoenix; Yuba City; Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (near Los Angeles); and Portland, Ore.
Samara grew up in a culture where transportation and farming were the most popular fields to make a living. He said he chose trucking because he has a passion for the business, although he also owns several farms in the Yuba City area where he lives.
Moffitt joined Legend Transportation in 2007 after spending 22 years in the U.S. Navy. He and Samara quickly bonded because they both like to be challenged. When the going gets tough, they embrace it.
“You figure out what you’re going to do, and you execute,” Moffitt says. “And you do that every single day. You can have a good work ethic, but you need to be challenged.”
Moffitt believes he has brought more structure to the company, which he learned all about in the Navy. “I don’t have blinders on, and I don’t live in a box,” Moffitt says. “You have to be able to look around and see how you can improve processes.”
Improving processes throughout the company’s operations all leads back to building solid relationships with all the people who comprise its customer base. And that process involves several of Legend’s departments, from operations to customer service to truck drivers — and Samara and Moffitt themselves. Each layer of business is counted on to do its job impeccably. When that happens, it often leads to additional business from customers because of the effort that has gone into building such relationships.
“We hold ourselves to that standard and we tell our customers, ‘This is how we are going to take care of you,’” Moffitt says. “I tell our people, ‘If you don’t know who you are dealing with at the end of the day at the lowest level, then we can’t be doing very well because that’s where most of the legwork is being done.’”
Taking it (Service) Personally
Good service is often hard to find in this world, in any capacity. Providing it can be challenging, too. But remember, that’s just what Samara and Moffitt embrace.
It begins with accessibility. Samara stresses that Legend Transportation is easy to reach — a calling customer won’t be put on hold for 15 minutes or have the call transferred three times before reaching the appropriate person.
“We take every phone call personally,” Samara says earnestly. Even after hours, the business is not closed. Recently, a customer called at about 7:30 p.m. after everyone had gone home. But the customer’s message was picked up and routed to a Legend Transportation staff member.
“Somebody had a left a load on a deck that needed to be delivered by the next morning,” Samara says.
No problem. The Legend Transportation staff member arranged for a driver to pick up the load and deliver it. “That’s the capability we have,” Samara adds.
Speaking of capabilities, Legend Transportation is investing in itself to grow its refrigerated business in California, Washington and Oregon. Moffitt says there’s an opportunity to increase that business because there’s only three months out of the year when produce isn’t moving in California. And Legend can haul more than just raw produce, Moffitt stresses. For instance, it can haul the produce to a retailer like Walmart after it has been packaged.
Samara and Moffitt also see a great opportunity to grow the business by capitalizing on e-commerce, which has exploded this year, through its dedicated services fleet.
Investing in the Business
Samara and Moffitt say Legend is always investing back into the business — and we’re talking millions of dollars, not thousands — especially when it comes to keeping up with technology.
On a recent sales call with a manufacturer that produces paper-based products for consumers, one of the first questions put to Samara and Moffitt was: “How is your technology?”
Samara and Moffitt are eager to talk about their technology, which they also consider a differentiator. All of Legend Transportation’s trucks are equipped with Omnitracs fleet management systems integrated with McLeod Loadmaster software that links each tractor’s electronic control module (ECM) with its customers’ electronic data interface (EDI).
“That technology enables us to attain maximum precision in dispatch, accounting and document management functions in full compatibility with shipper logistics systems,” Samara says.
Through adopting new technology, providing excellent service, applying a safety-first mindset and exercising environmental responsibility with best practices in fuel economy and exhaust emission reduction, Samara and Moffitt say the company has formed a formidable brand. Part of that brand has to do with on-time delivery service scorecards, which Legend Transportation takes determinedly. The company is consistently above 90%. Last year, Legend Transportation did 1,300 loads in one lane (a route routinely served by a carrier) for Target with only 11 misses. Keep in mind that most misses are because of bad weather.
“A driver might not want to drive in 10 inches of snow, but it’s still considered a miss,” Moffitt says. But there are no excuses. “At the end of the day, we are committed to serving our customers,” he adds.
Moffitt stresses the importance of clear and cordial communication between Legend Transportation’s driver managers and its drivers when it comes to providing on-time delivery and overall excellent service. It’s important to set drivers up for success, Moffitt adds.
“The driver is sitting at home and the truck is sitting in the yard,” Moffitt says. “The driver manager calls the driver up and says he has a load for him and needs him on the truck in eight hours for a delivery that will take five hours. And the driver manager tells the driver that he will be set up for another load while he’s in route with the load he’s delivering.”
Moffitt stresses that Legend Transportation wants to take care of its drivers. “We want them to know that we care about them,” he says.
“We want to make them feel comfortable.”
Moffitt notes that reliable and personable communication is vital not only between driver managers and drivers, but between customer service representatives and planners and other entities within the business. A customer service rep confirms load pick-up times and delivery dates with the customer and then goes to the planner, who consults with the driver manager. Then, the driver manager speaks to the driver. It’s about continuously talking about the plan and having everyone on the same page with the plan.
“It’s about executing,” Moffitt says. “We’re all supposed to work together for one cause. At the end of the day, we’re all successful when we execute at that level.”
Despite the economic recession created by the coronavirus, Legend Transportation says that it intends to continue to roll on in an effort to expand its business through new and existing partnerships.
Its long-term goal remains the same — to continue to reinvest in the business to drive further improvements to fuel growth.
For Legend Transportation, it will always be about taking the high road.