Supply Chain Now Episode 509

“We’ve opened up this opportunity to solve the problem of congestion in cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, Savannah – almost everywhere these days – at the same time monetizing capacity that has sat there latent up to that point.”

– Lance Theobald, CEO and Co-Founder of SecurSpace


When we think of logistics, most of us naturally think of trucks and trailers out on the open road getting freight from point A to point B. But at some point, carriers need a place to park and store their equipment. Finding and securing access to sufficient yard space real estate can be a growth-gating challenge, especially since the most congested, highest delivery volume areas also tend to be the most expensive.

Drawing inspiration from the Airbnb model, Lance Theobald, CEO and Co-Founder of SecurSpace, finds and leases space from different types of property owners and makes it available to carriers who need a predictable cost to park and store their equipment even though they don’t necessarily have predictable storage needs.

In this conversation, Lance tells Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton:

· How they discover and monitor available yard space, and how they make it possible for operators to book that space

· Which changes in eCommerce and consumer behavior he thinks will last beyond the pandemic

· The current imbalance between the number of trucks currently on the road and the number of delineated parking spaces

Intro/Outro (00:05):

It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world. Supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things. Supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts. Hey, good morning,

Scott Luton (00:28):

Scott Luton, Greg white with you here on supply chain. Now welcome back to today’s show, Greg, how are you doing this morning? Two in very well, Scott, how are you doing then? Fantastic. Had a great pre-show conversation with our guests here today. Excited about sharing his story and the company store with our audience that we’ve already been around the world today with the discussions we’ve had. Haven’t we? So it’s good to be back. Yes. And this will be even if only virtually back just to bring it full circle, for sure. Sure. Are. We’re talking with a business leader from a company that is on a mission to solve one of the transportation industry. Industry’s greatest challenges, universally probably safe, secure parking and storage options. So we’re gonna be working really hard as always to increase and enhance your supply chain leadership. Accu more to come on that in just a moment, but Greg, before we get started here, if folks enjoy today’s conversation, where would you direct our listeners?

Greg White (01:28):

Uh, Google, no, um, supply chain of course, where else? Or you can go anywhere. You get your podcasts and subscribe or YouTube. We have so many options. Scott we’re in the options business. You’re right. It’s right. So it’s a trap. So you don’t miss a single thing cause you don’t want, you don’t wanna miss conversations just like this here. So with no further ado, let’s welcome in our featured guests here today, Lance Thea, bald CEO and co-founder of secure space. Lance, how you doing? I’m doing great, Scott. It’s great to be here. Well, we’re excited to have you, uh, w we’ve got a variety of, of common friends as we’ve found out. And goodness gracious. As, as we’ve learned in doing our homework, you and the secure space team have been on an incredible trajectory. And we’re going to dive in more to that here today.

Scott Luton (02:20):

Greg, I’m excited you. Yeah. This is a meaningful solution that we’ve talked about a lot, right? So yeah, let’s do this. Let’s do it. So Lance, before we get into the heavy stuff and get into work stuff, let’s get to know you better. So tell us, where are you from and give us an anecdote or two about your upbringing. So I grew up in Southwest, Missouri, down in the Ozarks. I, if you’ve seen that Netflix show, it’s a, it’s a little bit different. My upbringing was slightly different than that show, but uh, yeah, same, same neck of the woods, you know, graduated from high school in Southwest. Missouri went to Miami university in Ohio, got a degree in counseling about a decade, a little over a decade and

Lance Theobald (03:00):

Have kind of traversed the world across the supply chain and logistics industries and the defense contracting and military worlds as well, uh, over the past decade.

Scott Luton (03:12):

All right. So I got to circle back. You mentioned, uh, the Ozarks, which is one of the biggest shows certainly on Netflix and probably beyond in recent years. And you mentioned how is little bit different for your upbringing when you think, when you think of your childhood in those formative years, growing up in that neck of the woods, what’s one thing that really comes to mind that, that, uh, you may not get a chance to do as often these days.

Lance Theobald (03:34):

Oh man. The, the beauty of kind of the Ozark mountains, the lakes, the rivers, the forests, uh, I was very fortunate to grow up on a large farm, a couple miles outside of Springfield, Missouri, and, uh, my siblings. And I spent the bulk of our childhood summers, weekends, hunting, fishing, just kind of going outdoors and experiencing all that. You know, I, I grew up in the era, uh, and I’m not that old, but I grew up in the era that predated social media and all this connected technology that we have. That was something that I that’s a memory I cherish from my childhood. It’s something that I, I try to bring to my children. They have three kids ages, two, three, and five. And, uh, I try to get them outdoors and kind of experiencing the world, not behind a screen, you know, up close and personal. And that’s, that’s, that’s Southwest, Missouri really accommodates

Scott Luton (04:25):

Love that. So two, three, and five, God rest your soul, Lance man. That’s impressive. Hey, so you live in the Charlotte area now, is that right? That’s correct. Yep. And one final question about Missouri. You mentioned your siblings. How many, how big of a family did you grow up in?

Lance Theobald (04:43):

Uh, I have six siblings, two brothers. Uh, one of them works for me and, uh, four sisters. And we’re kind of spread across the world these days.

Scott Luton (04:52):

You had a fight and upbringing had to, did to get, uh, an extra snack or to be heard. Right, right.

Lance Theobald (05:01):

There was always competition with the first plate to get the seconds. Right. You just, you got to scarf it down and then you can enjoy the meal if you get that second place.

Scott Luton (05:09):

Well, I love that. I love how, uh, you’re applying those things that you valued growing up to your family now and, and the awesome opportunity you have to work with one of your siblings. That’s fantastic. Um, all right. So before I turn it over to Greg, one of the things we hear a lot about, especially in the information age where we’re really, you know, we’re trying to find signals and avoid the noise, right? Not avoid the noise that the old pizza Django from the eighties, but avoid the noise. So, um, you know, we all have probably a short list of, of sites or, or, or other sources for really good news related to business or supply chain or otherwise. What is part of your daily consumption when it comes to really good information?

Lance Theobald (05:52):

There are a couple of great sources across the, I think across the spectrum, you’ve got supply chain, you know, great, great source of, uh, continuing information. I enjoy catching up, uh, with the articles that are coming out of freight waves. You know, I’m just continually more impressed by what Craig and his team are doing over there. Uh, and I’ve been a long time reader of the journal of commerce as well. I think they’ve been around just about as long as the United States, if I remember correctly and

Greg White (06:21):

Ben Franklin printed that originally,

Lance Theobald (06:23):

I think he might have, uh, actually, it’s, it’s pretty close to that, but you know, Eric Johnson, one of their technology editors over there has, uh, here in recent, uh, the last couple of months, he’s pushed out a weekly newsletter that I’ve really enjoyed kind of long form expositions or, uh, deep dives on different areas of the intersection of technology and logistics. Uh, the whole world says there’s no real technology adoption or in logistics or logistics is slow to adopt technology. And I think he does a good job of breaking that down and kind of countering that, that idea in a lot of his, uh, in a lot of his recent article,

Scott Luton (07:01):

Well put, and we have Mar those folks as well, it was really neat to be in this digital content space we’re in, is that sense of community, you know, whether it’s Craig or Tim duner, who’s been on the show, Eric Johnson’s on the show a few weeks ago, really admire and appreciate what they’re doing as we work together to amplify what incredible leaders like you and others are doing to help make supply chain work better and work like it’s 20, 50, and not 1982, we can pick on whatever you go in the eighties won’t pick on, but I appreciate you sharing that. All right. So Greg, let’s dive into, let’s get a sentence of his professional during a bit.

Greg White (07:38):

Yeah. So it feels like supply chain might be a bit of a natural you being from around Springfield. It being such an enormous trucking hub for so many years. But tell us a little bit about, about your professional journey before secure space. Tell us a little bit about some of the places and people that you’ve met, you’ve been and seen, and some of the things that may have influenced you so significantly, any aha moments,

Lance Theobald (08:06):

You know, kind of starting out after college, uh, got a degree in accounting and with the conclusion of my first accounting course, I decided I did not want to be an accountant. Uh, but that was the language of business. And so duck that one out actually joined the Navy. Uh, my senior year of college did a delayed entry program coming out of college. Uh, went through officer candidate school and sort of launched my career. Uh, with the Navy short time later, I started working for a defense contracting company that had contracts and operations all across the world really, um, got to work on some really cool projects with them. One of the, one of which was a, a contract with the defense logistics agency, which is probably one of the biggest logistics entities in the, in the world, frankly. Uh, and that took me over to Afghanistan and across the middle East.

Lance Theobald (08:54):

So that was, uh, that was a really interesting thing to be doing in my mid twenties. Kind of get my first introduction to logistics in the professional sense, you know, in Springfield, everything’s about trucking, but, uh, I just kind of saw it happen. I wasn’t a part of it. My wife and I were, you know, coming back from the middle East, my wife and I were starting to talk about starting a family and everything that would mean and decided, you know, heading back to an active war zone, probably wasn’t the best long-term decision as we embarked upon, you know, starting a family. So I took a job in, I was in Charlotte, North Carolina at the time, took a job with a company called direct chassis link or DCLI, they are the largest provider of Marine and domestic chassies in the United States. And started off there as a project manager, helping them manage integrations and acquisitions of the former steamship line fleets in the United States.

Lance Theobald (09:47):

It’s kind of unique. The ocean carriers used to own all the chassies and this is only in the U S and then provide those chasses to their customers. They went on a divestment splurge in the early 2010s, um, which is when I joined, uh, or shortly before I joined DCLI. And so they brought me in to help kind of manage some of those acquisitions, did that for about a year and two months, three months, and then moved into a commercial role, uh, overseeing their sales team and sales efforts on the West coast. Uh, and that’s really, that’s kind of where the aha moment happened. It wasn’t a moment. It was a series of moments probably actually took me a little bit longer than it should have to see what see, see the opportunities kind of come together for what would eventually become secure space. My team and I were tasked with leasing chassies for DCLI two motor carriers, shippers people all over the spectrum, um, of the supply chain.

Lance Theobald (10:40):

And we, uh, one of the things that I would consistently see, especially in, in cities like Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, you know, big, big Seaport hubs, but also home to the most expensive real estate in the United States is your small to mid-size trucking companies particularly would have almost an impossible time trying to find real estate from which to operate. So they might have access to drivers, trucks, freight, all the elements are there, but there was no real readily accessible or available real estate that they could operate from. If it’s parking trucks, if it’s storing containers, whatever it might be. So about four and every five meetings, uh, with these smaller carriers to larger carriers, you have companies that were at a real estate deficit. They could never find enough. You could take a drive out in Compton, California right now, and probably see loaded containers parked on the side of the road, especially right now, you know, it’s November high to peak season. I’m sure the shippers would be very unhappy. The shippers who own the goods inside those containers would be unhappy if they saw their, their merchandise out there,

Scott Luton (11:41):

Lance real quick. But speaking of the ports of LA and long beach, I was reading earlier. Some analysts say that it hasn’t been this congested in eight, 10 years.

Lance Theobald (11:50):

It’s wild. You know, it’s a lot of it I think is driven. There’s, there’s a lot of factors right now, right? You have the stimulus back in. I can’t remember when that was now, 2020 has lasted for about a decade already. So I’m losing track of time, but, you know, it’s that the $2 trillion in stimulus that was injected into the end of the economy, this is an armchair economist speaking to you now, you know, fueled an enormous amount of personal consumption business consumption and factories in Asia had shut down for, uh, for an extended period of time. First do the Chinese new year and then an extended period of beyond that because of the very extreme measures those countries took and, and combating COVID, but then they, they turned back up again and we’ve, we’ve seen peak seasons now for this, our third peak season as a company, uh, and the last two don’t hold a candle to the volumes that we’re seeing particularly on the West coast right now, uh, is absolutely incredible. The volumes that are coming in,

Greg White (12:47):

I just did a live show that will have aired probably a couple of weeks before this airs, but with us bank who has the freight payment index and they saw an enormous uplift, this won’t surprise you on the West coast, mostly the California ports and in the Southeast. So mostly Savannah Jacksonville Charleston. And we did hear a lot about congestion there. So, so it’s interesting that as an inspiration, it’s also interesting, the alignment of coming from a trucking hub, though, you weren’t, as you said, involved in it, going to the Navy, then coming back and dealing with, with ocean and ground transportation freight, and then this inspiration, I mean, maybe this was your aha moment, this inspiration of seeing containers on the side of the road and thinking somebody needs to do something about that, which, you know, as Scott and I said earlier, that’s, that’s something we’ve been talking about for quite some time and especially now with so much traffic. So tell us a little bit about, about secure space, how you came up with the idea. I mean, just carry that forward a little bit, how you came up with the idea, what problem does it solve and, you know, and, and a little bit about what the company is doing or has been doing for the last couple, three years. Seems like something interesting might’ve happened fairly recently. Lance, maybe you could tell us about that.

Lance Theobald (14:11):

That I can tell you a little bit more about that. Yeah. Yeah. In late 2017, uh, I was still working for DCLI. I had taken a job overseeing their nationwide Salesforce, and, but I just had this burning kind of desire to do something, you know, jump out, be an entrepreneur, do something. And I’d seen this, this opportunity in Los Angeles. You know, again, the vast majority of carriers, motor carriers don’t have access to real estate industrial real estate, particularly the logistics, subset of commercial has been one of the best performing sub-sectors of all of real estate for the last 45, 46 straight quarters, just up into the right growth. Uh, constantly these motor carriers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They need access to ample real estate to grow their operations or to operate fluidly. And it’s at the same time, the most expense it’s incredibly expensive and it’s getting more expensive and they’re not making any more of it. Right, right. So the big guys like Amazon or Walmart who have, you know, nearly limitless funding can come in and gobble up anything that they need on long-term leases. Meanwhile, the vast majority of carriers and operators don’t have those kind of resources to take down these leases.

Scott Luton (15:21):

Hey Lance and Greg, if I could interject for a second, I’m detecting a sense of a, uh, uh, democratization of supply chain coming, which we love here, Lance, where Greg and I are big fans of that.

Lance Theobald (15:34):

I, I that’s, that’s what drives us. That’s what drives us. You know, we, we look to Airbnb initially as kind of instructive and destructive business model. You know, if, if you have, um, a spare room or a vacation home or whatever it might be, uh, that’s just a cost of, you know, whatever your, your pursuits are. You know, your house is just a cost. Airbnb gave you and me this opportunity to lease that out and generate some income. Some found rep no additional costs really it’s just pure bottom line goes straight to straight to your bank account. So took the same model and brought it to the supply chain industry. We partner with a wide array of different businesses that have these facilities. It could be some of those big retailers or big trucking companies. It can be small trucking companies that have a deal on a piece of real estate, but they don’t utilize all of it.

Lance Theobald (16:25):

So what our model has done is taken kind of this cost of doing business. It’s just fixed in there. It’s X dollars per month for security, for my lease for whatever it might be. And we’ve opened up this opportunity to solve the problem of congestion in cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, Savannah, you know, almost everywhere these days and at the same time solving that problem, they monetize that capacity that has sat there latent, uh, up to that point. So we launched in Los Angeles. That’s a great case study. We started in LA with two yards and my wife and I had just welcomed our second kid into our family four weeks prior to me quitting my job. It was probably not the most intelligent decision I’ve ever made in my life, but we had two facilities and I had a list in Excel of carriers that I thought might be able to utilize those two yards or the excess capacity in those two yards. Uh, so my first official act as CEO of secure space and co-founder founder and CEO of secure space was to start cold calling people.

Scott Luton (17:24):

So Lance, if I could, if I could interject for a second and Greg, I’d love for you to, to weigh in here until you’re just talking about how looking back, it might not be, may not have been your smartest move and seven words of what you shared. However you believe that once you’re in it to win it wholeheartedly, that the focus should gain and the skin that you’ve gotten, the game that it forces you to get really serious about building a model and taking on the world. Do you not? Um, do you relate to that? Was that a big factor in your early, early stage success?

Lance Theobald (18:00):

Oh, 100%. You know, you, you kinda got to burn the bridges behind you, you know, and the blessing of living in this country working in this industry is there’s, there’s a need for talent. So the reality that you can always keep in the back of your mind is, Hey, my, my worst case scenario, if all fails, I need to go get a job, you know? And is that such a bad outcome? Not really, not at all, but for me, you know, I’m the type of person when I do something, I want to jump into it both feet, uh, and not look back. And so there was a pathway there where I could have been half in half out. I didn’t feel like that would be fair to my employer. And I didn’t really, really feel, it would be fair to myself and my co-founders of the folks that jumped on board right after me. So we burned the bridges. We, we jumped in and we found a way to make it work, starting with those two facilities and then just blocking and tackling afterwards,

Greg White (18:52):

Part of the world. We grew up in Lance, you load up the wagon and you head into the wilderness, right? Absolutely look. And I think that that is an important lesson for people to learn is that commitment is what’s required also interesting your perspective, right? You start cold calling because when, when you’re, when you’re a startup founder, you are head chef and bottle washer at the same time. So it’s, uh, it’s important for people to recognize that it’s not, it’s not the way people see Airbnb these days or Uber, right? I mean, those companies is, as I’d said, and as I’ve told people, it took us 10 years to become an overnight sensation. And that’s, that’s more common than not. And what we consider a startup is often not at all a startup, Uber history as long. Right. So, well, interesting. The Airbnb model, I wonder I stayed in an Airbnb once and I wound up next door to Justin Bieber and his gang and man, can they party, but I wonder, can you make sure that somebody has enough space or is, you know, is, is in a secure space and since it’s the name, how do you, how do you manage that?

Greg White (20:06):

I’m just curious how you manage that aspect of the business. Do you do the rating thing and all of that sort of thing?

Lance Theobald (20:12):

We do not do ratings right now. That’s something that we have looked at. And in our brief history, it’s something that we’ve, it’s been on the roadmap. It’s just the way these roadmaps go is, you know, if it’s not the hottest fire, it just gets pushed down. Yep. The way that we confirm that we have secure capacity, we launched. So I left my job in July, August, 2017. We actually launched the full blown solution or at least the first iteration of it a year later in August, 2018. So that’s the Airbnb marketplace coupled with what we call our gate management system or GMs. Uh, and that management system is really how we can control and have an understanding around the capacity to give them facility. Now there’s a large number of our facilities that are simply, Hey, we have capacity available. We’d like to list with you if you can send us a customer.

Lance Theobald (21:03):

Great. So for those facilities, we don’t have quite as much control. We don’t have quite the data, uh, that we might have at a, at a full-blown GMs using facility. And that is, that’s a hundred percent kind of the honor system, uh, operators list, their facilities. We have a process. We go through to confirm that they own the facility. They’re leasing it from et cetera, et cetera, before we list it live. And then customers, buyers in our marketplace can then request space there. And then the operator of that facility can confirm, approve or deny that that reservation request, it’s not quite as fluid as our full blown solution, which is all hinges around this software, that gate management system. And that is succinctly just the full kit and caboodle set of tools and features that you need to operate a parking or storage facility. We built that from the ground up.

Lance Theobald (21:57):

One of my co-founders runs a number of parking and storage facilities in Southern California. Uh, Ben, Ben Satterley. He was crucial to the early days, uh, you know, getting this right. He took it a lot of blows on the chin when we got it wrong, but unfortunately he was the, he was the proving grounds, the testing grounds for everything that we wanted to do. And so it was in August of 2018 that we launched that. And when we set up a yard on that, on that system, we know down to the spot what’s available at that facility because the operator is using that system, utilize a set of tools to manage everything that happens at that facility out in the yard. And that allows us to accurately understand where we have capacity and then sell that capacity if it’s available. And if the operator wants to,

Greg White (22:43):

That’s a great model. I mean, it’s particularly needed because of what we just talked about with some of the West coast ports, and also just the massive flow of, of transport. And of course, because so many things coming from West to East, they wind up there a day early or a day or two late, and then they have to be stored until they can get their S their next appointment or, or to wait for their appointment as well. Right. Oh, absolutely. Is that mainly the problem you’re solving or are there other, I mean, other use cases

Lance Theobald (23:16):

Yeah. You know, that’s, that would be the Merage or the detention, the detention, uh, charges, excuse me. At the, at the sea ports and the rail, uh, facilities, respectively, you know, those, those charges can run a hundred, $200 a day and up, uh, while we might have a secure space facility, right next door, sometimes adjacent to the sea ports and rail facilities for $20 a day, $25 a day, you have to, you have to bake in the cost of the Dre or the hall from the yard or from the port or rail facility to one of our yards. But if it’s going to sit there for two or three days, your ROI is, is, you know, off the charts, you know, so we started out as kind of that overflow solution. I need something for a day or a week, but really where we’ve built a lot of momentum and a lot of strength in our business is changing how carriers view real estate.

Lance Theobald (24:07):

We have people, we have customers that started with us in late 2017 and early 2018, just using us here and there that have grown their footprint within our network on the demand side, that these are buyers exponentially, and they use us as their real estate shop. And so in lieu of going out and trying to lease a space, they rely on, they depend on the secure space network to have something for them. And this opens up a world of possibility. If I’m servicing five customers in Southern California, rather than pulling everything from the port out to say Compton, where I might have a facility, I can now strategically direct my drivers to Compton to the amylin empire somewhere, maybe down in orange County, maybe all the way up in Los Angeles. And I have five Lance’s trucking company yards now all hosted on secure space, leveraging that latent capacity. That’s always been in the LA market, but no one ever really unlocked that or had access to that.

Greg White (25:04):

That’s great. So you started out cold calling and it’s seems like you may have progressed as a leader. And recently you’ve had something the ultimate sort of leader founder experience. So tell us a little bit about this partnership with, with invol se and how that impacts your business going forward.

Lance Theobald (25:23):

We, we came into 2020, uh, on fire. We had a great 2019, and we were looking at kind of going the traditional, Hey, we’re a tech startup. We’re growing by leaps and bounds, you know, and everything I’m reading tells me, I need to go raise some venture capital to continue this, this party. So we went out to the market, started talking to some people about bringing in capital. We had some, some commitments from big time investors and others. And I know the CEO, uh, at, uh, in boss technologies, uh, Larry Cuddy from my time with DCLI and then the early days was secure space. And he reached out to me one day and said, Hey, what do you think about just joining our team? And we were midstream on the capital raise, uh, you know, things were looking great on that front. And so we started having conversations around that.

Lance Theobald (26:09):

And, uh, long story short, you know, we were acquired by inbox technologies on October 2nd, so a month and a day ago. So it’s still pretty fresh. They are the market leader in intermodal and drayage TMS is for the drayage, um, excuse me, for motor carriers in drayage and intermodal, they’ve purchased now for TMS platforms merging those together and then secure spaces, the marketplace that will underpin the TMS, the entire TMS platform. So I don’t want to get too far into the end of the details and the secret sauce we were working on some pretty exciting things, but there’s definitely an opportunity. Uh, we see opportunity to drayage and intermodal for a holistic platform to come in and kind of help shape the industry moving forward. Uh, and I think in boss technologies is going to drive that it’s a great cooperative play, even, even as it stands, right. Even as, as you

Scott Luton (27:02):

Discussed. So yes, lots of growth, lots of growth. I am not jealous of the, the really sharp technology folks and our wiring together for TMS platforms though. But Hey, uh, what an outstanding opportunity and congrats Lance. So you and your whole team, because as Greg alluded to that’s, you know, there’s so many rewarding aspects of the entrepreneurial journey and certainly for a group to see such value in what you built you and your team have built and, and how you all have you been in the trenches at, you know, working at it day in and day and night in to serve, uh, the markets you’re serving and that that’s job well done. So congrats from our entire supply chain, the team here, and we look forward to keeping our finger on the pulse for what lies ahead. All right. Speaking of that, we like to consider 2020 as being the, the, um, the business school gift that keeps on giving. I mean, folks are going to classes and professors are going to be studying this year for decades to come. And, and especially some of those blind spots that, that every sector, every industry has uncovered, that was not part of their, their risk management strategy. So that’s one of the silver linings to such a historically challenging year. But, you know, beyond that, as you’re serving the global business world, that we’re all a part of, and what’s one thing what’s one topic or issue or challenge that really you’ve been tracking more than others here lately.

Lance Theobald (28:28):

One of the things I’m really interested to see when the dust settles on 2020, if the dust ever settles on the pandemic and kind of the repercussions of the pandemic, I’ll be interested to see how much the, the switch in consumer buying behavior sticks. You know, e-commerce has just absolutely exploded. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but Walmart’s year over year, e-comm growth. Uh, you know, any retailer, Amazon’s just, you know, they’re there, you can’t even see them. They’re so far out there at this point in time, but how much of that sticks around, right. I, I can tell you every single day, I don’t know what it is, but we get two or three packages of something from Amazon or Walmart or somebody. And I think I’m far from unique in that, uh, and these are, this is purchases. These are purchases. We would have historically gone down the road and made it, uh, at a storefront. So one of the things that I’m tracking closely, you know, it’s very related to what, uh, what we do here at secure space, space utilization, industrial space utilization. Uh, I read something that it takes three times as much square footage to handle an e-commerce order of a widget as it might in just retail. So for the, those sales that switched from offline online, the need real estate

Greg White (29:42):

Is just going to explode. And so I’m very in tune and kind of tracking closely with how much of this consumer buying behavior sticks after the COVID hits. I mean, excuse me, after the COVID pandemic crisis fades, if it does, you know, and kind of hard to say,

Scott Luton (29:57):

It’s fascinating, you know, Greg, you and I tackle retail trends. And news seems like every week on the buzz on Mondays. And while it doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of, of what maybe is traditional supply chain news to Lance’s point, you know, e-commerce is such a huge factor that that’s directing so many supply chain resources and people and technology and investment dollars. It’s tough to ignore. And it’s so interesting. See these trends that are so deeply Tod, that consumer patterns. And I know we’ve heard it a thousand times, but Amazon effect, you know, and how we’re looking to apply that in all components and facets of our lives. But Greg, what are, what’d you hear there? That, from what Lance just shared?

Greg White (30:41):

Well, I mean, I think that it’s interesting, the take there, and I think that this, there is sustainability in, e-commerce not, and it’s not without its problems. One, the return rate is way too high, right? 30 to 40% returns is way too high. That’s not sustainable to the largest carriers are either unable or refusing to allow cost-effective last mile delivery. Um, though it seems that at least by their commercials that are friends of FedEx, or at least giving it a shot, unlike one of the other large carriers who essentially said, let them eat cake, but it’s here to stay. I can tell you because people’s eyes have been opened up that people think about, I think about this factor that was epiphanal for people. They didn’t have any idea how they could buy item X online. And now they’re clear, right? Who would have ever bought groceries online. And now that’s huge, right? Buying groceries online was a fad that, that failed in the 1950s in Chicago with a company called Juul and, and it’s back. And it’s probably back for good, but now people, as long as they can figure out how to do it. And as long as the retailers can enable it with an ability to reduce last mile cost and returns costs, it will stay because the retailers will facilitate it

Scott Luton (32:08):

Next step there, Greg, in, in home grocery delivery that will revolutionize the whole world is when the drones or bots can come in and put all those groceries away in your kitchen. Can you imagine how transformative that would be?

Greg White (32:24):

Well, I’ll tell you what will be a pivotal moment in our household is my wife loves to make guacamole when they can select an appropriate avocado. That’s when the transition will occur in our house. That’s me for over a decade. I still can’t do that in person. Right. I know I can’t be trained. I’m totally with you, Lance. I cannot be trained. I don’t get it, but I don’t have AI. I don’t have artificial or actually any actual intelligence. So it’s harder for me to learn. So maybe the drones can learn better, but look, I think the important thing is that this is solving a problem that is significant. I mean, we’re talking about real estate in Los Angeles, we’re talking, you know, and, and right now, Scott, this hit me the other day. We’re talking about how much less congested the East coast, the Southeast ports are, but how sustainable is that?

Greg White (33:16):

I mean, think about the roads in Savannah and Charleston and Jacksonville with all of its rivers and tributaries and whatnot. There will come KA congestion in those ports as well. So there’s a lot of room and in fact, Georgia, and I think now, uh, South Carolina have already built inland ports just to get that stuff away from the seaside. So there will come those opportunities for every port. And remember also that the supply chain is realigning, call it reassuring near shoring, optimal shoring. I can’t even remember all the names of shoring, but wherever it comes from, it’s going to come on a ship or a truck. And you know, we’re going to need a place to put those. And I, I think I know where Lance is going within Vos. I’m not going to say, but that is also going to be transformational for drivers as Overland. Transportation continues as well.

Lance Theobald (34:13):

Well, Oh yeah. You see this? I think the HTRI just came out with their top 10 issues that carriers face and top 10 issues that drivers contend with on the carrier list. Truck parking is nowhere to be found. Number one spot for the 2021 survey or late 20, 20, 20, 21. I can’t remember the date, but there’s one that came out two weeks ago. Truck drivers, truck parking is the number one issue. It’s exponentially harder now than it was pre pandemic. And it’s only going to get worse. Uh, you know, the EOTS at the state level at the federal level, many other public entities are, you know, scrambling to try to find options, to increase the available capacity for truck parking. It is so expensive to take a piece of dirt and turn it into a lot that’s suitable for truck parking. Meanwhile, you have tens of thousands of facilities, trucking, terminals, warehouses, distribution centers, all over the country. Purpose-built for trucks. And they’re sitting there with open vacant space every single day. I don’t care if it’s in Los Angeles, New York or Omaha.

Scott Luton (35:20):

So to our listeners that, you know, for a couple of those of you that may not be really closely attuned to this challenge that our, our dear truck drivers are having. I mean, you’re talking about drivers that keep the economy moving. They keep e-commerce moving that, um, you know, protect the psyche of the American consumer and elsewhere global consumer first at my radar, Lance, when, when the, um, there’s a freight taskforce in Atlanta here in Atlanta that commissioned a study, trying to identify the current inventory of safe and secure spaces for trucks to park. And it came on the heels of unfortunately, a truck driver in the upstate of South Carolina that couldn’t find a well lit, safe, good spot to pull over. And so he had, he had to pull over in a less than optimal. It was not lit and he ended up being robbed and lost his life and tragic, right? However, the good that comes out of that, that huge sacrifice hopefully is tackling this challenge that such a critical component of our global supply chain struggle with to your point, number one, topic, right? Safe, secure parking. We got to put it in a headlock. And that’s where I know Greg and watching now team love what you and the secure space team are doing, because it is such a huge challenge for some of the most important people involved and keeping things moving. So really appreciate that land. Yeah.

Lance Theobald (36:45):

Yeah. It definitely, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s far from salt. You know, we, we think that we have a piece of the solution. You know, this isn’t a plug for us or anything like that. There is a need for a multitude of solutions to come to the table to solve this. There’s something like three or 400,000 delineated truck parking spaces in the United States of America. There’s 2 million trucks on the road. Every single day. You can see the supply and demand imbalance is quite extreme, uh, in those, in those numbers. And we think that we can help solve part of that problem, but it’s going to take a lot of different entities coming together to provide a holistic solution. And it’s crucial. It impacts driver’s safety. It impacts their ability to earn a living so many different areas of a driver’s day can be dictated by or influenced by where they’re going to find a safe place to park

Scott Luton (37:32):

The other bottom line component that Lance you’re speaking towards that at least came out of this local study is that on average drivers are spending over an hour just finding a spot between their phone and other, other things they do to find a parking spot. It was eating up into their hours of service to, so to your point, maximizing, you know, those windows of, of active driving. So anyway, uh, really appreciate what you’re doing. Love that the smart technology that the democratic elements, the sustainability you’ve got factored into the model. I mean, it’s really Greg. I mean, it, it’s, it’s a wonderful, innovative entrepreneurial story, right?

Lance Theobald (38:12):

Yeah. Yeah. And I, I love that it, it has been recognized and leveraged upon and combined with other technologies, right. To create even more impact in the marketplace that is really important. Right.

Scott Luton (38:25):

All right. Let’s tour. So let’s make sure Lance, our listeners can connect with you and secure a space and, and learn a lot more about where you are and where you’re headed. So what’s the best way for folks to do that?

Greg White (38:38):

Uh, yeah, the easiest way to, to stay in touch. Uh, we’re pretty active on LinkedIn. So if you’re on LinkedIn, now you can look me up Lance, the evolve or secure space. Uh, we’ve got a little bit of a different spelling. It’s all one word. S E C U R S P a C E a. So if you check us out on LinkedIn, you’ll, you’ll find links to our website more about us, uh, where you can connect with me and, you know, see the occasional video of me walking around a, a, an empty piece of dirt or concrete, like a kid in a candy shop. I get excited when I see a little bit of daylight on, on an industrial piece of real estate. So counting trailer slots, you’re going one there

Scott Luton (39:19):

That he’s a trained accountant, so accounting degrees. So his ability to, to check that, uh, above my payroll, but, uh, pay grade. But, uh, Lance, you remember, I’ve got, I’ve got one question to ask of you remember the 18 in the eighties, right. I remember the show. Okay. Remember there, there, awesome ban that BA Barocas was really proud of. Yeah. Okay. So we’ve got a supply chain now, version of that van, and then get back into the normal and, and get back in person and get back to, you know, doing some of this stuff that we’re doing right now in person. I wanna be able to count on you, Greg. And I want to count on you to find space for our band parking from, from show to show. Can we count on you?

Greg White (40:04):

You can count on the account, I’ll have a spot with your name on it. That’s awesome.

Scott Luton (40:09):

Awesome. Well, Lance, a really, you know, I appreciate your down to earth kind of demeanor and disposition, despite all your success and growth, it’s really refreshing. And we’ll have to have you back on as we continue to track your progress and what y’all are doing over at secure space. Congrats again on the big news from October. And, uh, we wish you all the best. So really appreciate your time here today.

Greg White (40:32):

Thank you, Scott. Thank you, Greg. It’s. Yeah. Thanks Lance.

Scott Luton (40:36):

Well, Greg, we’ve been chatting with Lance Theobald CEO and co-founder of secure space all about you. I kept talking with Lance for a couple more hours, but what was your favorite part, Greg of our interview here with Lance,

Greg White (40:47):

How fast it happened? That was my favorite part. I mean, you know, it is sometimes a slog in a startup to find a spot, but you know, when you’ve found a solution whose time has come, that demand builds really, really rapidly. And I think that, I mean, I think the founder story here too is important, right? In recognizing one sort of subconsciously probably being prepared for this by living in a trucking town or near a trucking town and always having that awareness probably in his mind to look for semi-trucks maybe even the fascination that I do. I love semis and, uh, any big equipment really, but, um, and then, and then to have, have adapted that from his military logistics career to

Scott Luton (41:34):

His, his civilian, military, or logistics career into seeing a problem on the street and translating that into a solution. I don’t know if people understand what a special gift that is to be able to do that. And that’s just really, really impressive. And then to recognize not only the initial problem that they’re solving, but that there are other problems out there and then leveraging up with this partner within Vos to be able to do that is, you know, that’s a, sky’s the limit, it’s the ultimate startup story right there, and art of the possible, uh, being able to see that, uh, so clearly, so it’s Lance, I told you, we’d talked about you as if you weren’t still in the shot, but, uh, really enjoyed your, your, uh, your story resonates a lot with, with us as fellow entrepreneurs and, and, uh, just excited about what’s to come so big. Thanks to Lance Theobald again with secure space, a big thanks to Greg white here, enjoyed this story and to our listeners. Hopefully you enjoyed it as much as we did. Uh, if you’re interested in learning and hearing similar interviews, you can check us as we always wrap up every show, we will challenge you. Like we challenge our team, do good, give forward and be the change that’s needed. Hey, be light Lance. And with that note, we’ll see you next time here on Supply Chain Now.

Would you rather watch the show in action?  Watch as Scott and Greg welcome Lance Theobald to Supply Chain Now through our YouTube channel.

Lance Theobald is the CEO and Co-Founder of SecurSpace, a software and marketplace technology provider serving drayage and intermodal carriers across North America. SecurSpace was acquired by Envase Technologies in October 2020, Theobald joined Envase’s management team and board of directors. Prior to launching SecurSpace, Theobald worked in a variety of roles around the world in the defense and transportation industries. The concept that became SecurSpace was developed during his tenure at DCLI, North America’s largest chassis supplier. Theobald lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife and 3 children. When he’s not at work, he can be found reluctantly watching a Disney movie for the 28th time or ecstatically teaching his kids the joys of sports, cooking, and pyromania.

Greg White is a host and principal of Supply Chain Now.  Greg is a founder, CEO, board director and advisor in B2B technology with multiple successful exits. He recently joined Trefoil Advisory as a Partner to further their vision of stronger companies by delivering practical solutions to the highest-stakes challenges. Prior to Trefoil, Greg served as CEO at Curo, a field service management solution most notably used by Amazon to direct their fulfillment center deployment workforce. Greg is most known for founding Blue Ridge Solutions and served as President & CEO for the Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader of cloud-native supply chain applications that balance inventory with customer demand. Greg has also held leadership roles with Servigistics, and E3 Corporation, where he pioneered their cloud supply chain offering in 1998. In addition to his work at Supply Chain Now and Trefoil, rapidly-growing companies leverage Greg as an independent board director and advisor for his experience building disruptive B2B technology and supply chain companies widely recognized as industry leaders. He’s an insightful visionary who helps companies rapidly align vision, team, market, messaging, product, and intellectual property to accelerate value creation. Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams to create breakthroughs that gain market exposure and momentum, and increase company esteem and valuation. Learn more about Trefoil Advisory:

Scott W. Luton is the founder & CEO of Supply Chain Now. He has worked extensively in the end-to-end Supply Chain industry for more than 15 years, appearing in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Dice and Quality Progress Magazine. Scott was named a 2019 Pro to Know in Supply Chain by Supply & Demand Executive and a 2019 “Top 15 Supply Chain & Logistics Experts to Follow” by RateLinx. He founded the 2019 Atlanta Supply Chain Awards and also served on the 2018 Georgia Logistics Summit Executive Committee. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and holds the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. A Veteran of the United States Air Force, Scott volunteers on the Business Pillar for VETLANTA and has served on the boards for APICS Atlanta and the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance. Follow Scott Luton on Twitter at @ScottWLuton and learn more about Supply Chain Now here:


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