July 14th 2020
Shipping Strategies For Racing Professionals, With Gordon Steffens, Performance Plus Global Logistics
Gordon Steffens, president and founder of Performance Plus Global Logistics, knows racing is a sport where last minute needs are a way of life. Whether a part is vital immediately before a race or to complete an automotive project, eliminating shipping difficulties is critical in a time crunch.
The fact is that Performance Plus Global Logistics has always had a keen interest in doing business in the racing industry, explains Steffens. “I started a division for DHL for the performance racing industry. It was phenomenally successful; but ultimately DHL refocused services and no longer did intra-U.S. shipping.” Steffens adds “I have a son and grandson who are actual racers. My folks were involved in drag racing and I was a motocross racer myself.”
He finds it personally satisfying to solve shipping problems for the performance racing industry. “Whether we are helping them complete a project having urgent parts at the ready on a daily basis, we are passionate about auto racing; many of our staff members are involved in the industry. We do this on the weekend the same as our customers.”
Based in St. Charles, Missouri, Performance Plus Global Logistics offers a full range of domestic and international shipping solutions, including ocean, air and expedited shipments, assisting in the entire process from start to finish, whether it’s a single part or an entire container.
Steffens notes, “Within the U.S., we have a proprietary software program that we give to customers in the performance racing industry. They log in themselves, and it prompts them to do everything very systematically. It’s pretty straightforward; the only enhancement to that is additional insurance.”
The software includes many important “bullet points” for customers who don’t ship a lot or may not know some shipping caveats. “For example, they may not know it’s important if a delivery location is a residence or a business. If they have a shop behind their house, it’s still thought of as a residence. The type of address leads to a variety of different shipping options,” Steffens says. “It’s also important to note if you have a lift or dock; if not, a truck may need a lift gate. The lift gate costs little as long as that need is known in advance.”
He compares added shipping costs (accessorial) to those when flying on an airline and paying extra for luggage. “In the freight industry, there are dozens of those assessorial costs that you need to recognize. You wouldn’t think of this, but an item going to a school or church or university may cost more to ship because the dock isn’t as easy to find, or the location is out of the way from the main business community. We try to ask all these things in our software, to provide these important details to find the best carriers,” Steffens says.
Another important aspect of shipping is knowing the correct weight and dimension of the object being shipped. “If you don’t have scales and just guess, it can be an issue. If the customer puts the wrong weight they may get another bill for overages. So, we try to help them provide those details.”
Internationally, shipping includes more paper work to complete than domestic shipping. “If the customer doesn’t have an international customs broker, we’ll provide that. Certain items, such as lithium ion batteries, are really tough things to ship both domestically and internationally, and you also need an MSDS document—a data sheet from the manufacturer specifying the shipment contains some hazardous class items to be declared.”
In short, “Documentation is the key to success with international shipping. You need to have all the proper paperwork on the front end, so it doesn’t cause a delay. Something can be held at port if the paperwork isn’t right, and along with the delay, they charge a lot of money for storing it.”
Shippers must also keep up-to-date on the latest rules; currently Canada requires EPA documents that are key and were not in place 30 days ago. Steffens says, “We help customers with all that paperwork. A lot of other companies that ship internationally just say once you have the paperwork, send it in. We try to provide what’s required, whether it’s a data spec sheet, a certificate of origin...we help them facilitate. We have the forms available on our website.”
In the performance racing industry, Performance Plus Global Logistics ships everything from connecting rods and cylinder heads for manufacturers to 30-plus engines—every day. “The Internet has no borders. A drag racer in Sweden may want to buy an entire engine from a U.S. builder. The growth of international business has doubled in the last 5 to 10 years…there are markets now in every continent, and we ship to all of them,” explains Steffens.
Steffens’ best advice for international shipping: “Complete the paperwork right. Know what the commodity is. You can’t just say you’re shipping ‘parts.’ Provide the specific brand, specs, all the details and the adequate documentation to provide that information. Do it right the first time, so someone else doesn’t have to do it – which can cost more money and cause delays, or even lose an international sale.”
Packaging is also key. “International shipping is based on space-available density, so the more customized the crate, the less it costs. Proper packaging for size is also important to avoid damage; international shipping can be handled up to 20 times.” He adds that knowing when an item is needed is also important. “One part may not be needed in hand for 45 days. In that situation, internationally, we would suggest a move by ocean. But if they need a part for a race Sunday, then it goes air, highest priority.”
Performance Plus Global Logistics works with anyone located anywhere in the U.S. or throughout the world, Steffens explains. “We literally go everywhere that is allowed to have commerce, from Dubai to New Zealand, Australia, the U.K.”
According to Steffens, “I think everyone is cognizant of the growth opportunities in the performance racing industry. There are no boundaries; everyone has the same passions; the same needs. We have grown despite the pandemic; we have continued to move things everywhere. We are very grateful for this. That passion for the industry is what’s allowing us, and the industry, to grow.”
By Genie Davis