C h Robinson Worldwide Inc   (CHRW)
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C h Robinson Worldwide Inc

Business Description

C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. is one of the largest third party logistics companies in the world. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. provide freight transportation services and logistics solutions to companies of all sizes, in a wide variety of industries. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. operates through a network of 214 offices in North America, Europe, Asia, and South America. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. has developed global multimodal transportation and distribution networks to provide seamless logistics services worldwide. As a result, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. has the capability of managing most aspects of the supply chain on behalf of C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. customers.

We are a non-asset based transportation provider, meaning we do not own the transportation equipment that is used to transport our customers’ freight. Through our relationships with approximately 45,000 transportation companies, including motor carriers, railroads (primarily intermodal service providers), air freight and ocean carriers, we select and hire the appropriate transportation to manage our customers’ freight needs. Being non-asset based means we can be flexible and focus on seeking solutions that work for our customers, rather than focusing on asset utilization. As an integral part of our transportation services, we provide a wide range of value-added logistics services, such as supply chain analysis, freight consolidation, core carrier program management, and information reporting.

In addition to multimodal transportation services, we have two other logistics business lines: fresh produce sourcing and fee-based information services.

Sourcing (the buying, selling, and brokering of fresh produce) was our original business when we were founded in 1905. Much of our logistics expertise can be traced to our significant experience in handling perishable commodities. We purchase fresh produce through our network of produce suppliers. Our customers include large grocery retailers, produce wholesalers, restaurants, and foodservice distributors. In the majority of cases, we also arrange the transport of the fresh produce we sell through our relationships with owners of specialized transportation equipment. In response to demand and changing market conditions, we have developed our own brand of produce, The Fresh 1®, and also have entered into licensing agreements to distribute produce under other national brand names. The produce for these brands is sourced through various relationships and packed to order through contract packing agreements. We have also instituted quality assurance and monitoring procedures as part of our national brand programs.

Information Services, our third business line, is comprised of a C.H. Robinson subsidiary, T-Chek Systems, Inc. T-Chek’s customers are motor carriers, for which it provides a variety of management and information services such as fuel management services, funds transfer, fuel and use tax reporting, and driver funds transfer. For several companies and truck stop chains, T-Chek captures sales and fuel cost data, provides management information to the seller, transfers funds to the truck stop, and invoices the carrier for fuel, cash advances, and our fee.

Our business model has been the main driver of our strong historical results and has positioned us for continued growth. One of our competitive advantages is our large branch network of 214 offices, staffed by approximately 5,200 salespeople. These branch employees are in close proximity to both customers and transportation providers, which gives them broad knowledge of their local markets and enables them to respond quickly to customers’ and transportation providers’ changing needs. Employees act as a team in their sales efforts, customer service, and operations. Over 30% of our transactions are shared transactions between branches. Our branches work together to complete transactions and collectively meet the needs of our customers. For large multi-location customers, we often coordinate our efforts in one branch and rely on multiple branch locations to deliver specific geographic or modal needs. Our methodology of providing services is very similar across all branches. Our North American branches have a common technology platform that they use to match customer needs with supplier capabilities, to collaborate with other branch locations, and to utilize centralized support resources to complete all facets of the transaction. A significant portion of our branch employees’ compensation is performance-oriented, based on the profitability of their branch and their contributions to the success of the branch. We believe this makes our sales employees more service-oriented, focused, and creative.

Branch Network

Each branch office is responsible for its own growth and profitability. Our branch salespeople are responsible for developing new business, negotiating and pricing services, receiving and processing service requests from customers, and contracting with carriers to provide the transportation requested. In addition to routine transportation, salespeople are often called upon to handle customers’ unusual, seasonal, and emergency needs. Shipments to be transported by truck are priced at the branch level, and branches cooperate with each other to hire carriers to provide transportation. Branches may rely on expertise in other branches when contracting LTL, intermodal, international ocean and air shipments. Multiple branches may also work together to service larger, national accounts where the expertise and resources of more than one branch are required to meet the customer’s needs. Their efforts are usually coordinated by one “lead” branch on the account.

Salespeople in the branches both sell to and service their customers. Sales opportunities are identified through our database, referrals from current customers, leads generated by branch office personnel through knowledge of their local and regional markets, and third party sources such as industry directories. Salespeople are also responsible for recruiting new carriers, who are qualified by our centralized carrier services group to make sure they are properly licensed and insured, and have the resources to provide the necessary level of service on a dependable basis.

Branch Expansion. We expect to continue to open new branch offices. New branch offices are viewed as a long-term contributor to overall company growth. In addition to market opportunity, a major consideration in opening a new branch is whether we have branch salespeople that are ready to manage a new branch. Additional branches are often opened within a territory previously served by another branch, such as within major cities, as the volume of business in a particular area warrants opening a separate branch. A modest amount of capital is required to open a new branch, usually involving a lease for a small amount of office space, communications and hardware, and often employee compensation guaranties for a short time. We have also augmented our growth through selective acquisitions.

Branch Employees. Because the quality of our employees is essential to our success, we are highly selective in our hiring. We recruit applicants from across North America, Europe, Asia, and South America. Our applicants typically have college degrees, and some have business experience, although not necessarily within the transportation industry.

Newly hired branch employees go through on-the-job training at the branch level that emphasizes development of the necessary skills and customer service philosophy to become productive members of a branch team. We expect most new salespeople to start contributing to the success of the branch in a matter of weeks. In addition, each new salesperson attends a national training meeting to further their skills and have the opportunity to develop relationships with employees of other branches.

Employees at the branch level form a team. The team structure is motivated by our performance-based compensation system, in which a significant portion of the cash compensation of most branch managers and salespeople is dependent on the profitability of their particular branch or business unit. Branch managers and salespeople who have been employed for at least one complete year are paid a portion of the branch’s earnings for that calendar year, based on a system of “points” awarded to the employees on the basis of their productivity and contributions. Employees can also receive profit sharing contributions that depend on our overall profitability and other factors in our 401(k) plan. In some special circumstances, such as opening new branches, we may guarantee a level of compensation to the branch manager and key salespersons for a short period of time.

All of our managers and certain other employees who have significant responsibilities are eligible to participate in our amended 1997 Omnibus Stock Plan. Within that plan, in 2003 we began regularly issuing restricted stock and restricted stock units as our primary equity awards because we believe these awards are an effective tool for creating long term ownership and alignment between employees and our shareholders. For most restricted stock awards, restricted shares and units are available to vest over five calendar years, based on company performance.

Customers and Marketing

We seek to establish long-term relationships with our customers and to increase the amount of business done with each customer by providing them with a full range of logistics services.


The transportation services industry is highly competitive and fragmented. We compete against a large number of other non-asset based logistics companies, asset-based logistics companies, third party freight brokers, carriers offering logistics services, and freight forwarders. We also compete against carriers’ internal sales forces and shippers’ own transportation departments. We also buy and sell transportation services from and to companies that compete with us.

We often compete with respect to price, scope of services, or a combination thereof, but believe that our most significant competitive advantages are:

• our branch network, which enables our salespersons to gain broad knowledge about individual customers, carriers and the local and regional markets they serve, and to provide superior customer service based on that knowledge. This network also offers customers higher service as responsibility for shipments is commonly shared across branches, to provide nationwide coverage and local market knowledge,

• our 45,000 carrier relationships,

• our size, relative to other providers. Because of the large number of transactions we do annually, 5.2 million in 2006, we have greater opportunity to efficiently match available capacity with customer needs. Our scale is an advantage in attracting more carriers, which in turn enables us to service our customers more efficiently and earn more business,

• our non-asset based model, which enables us to remain flexible in our service offerings to our customers,

• our dedicated employees and entrepreneurial culture, which are supported by our performance-based compensation system,

• our proprietary information systems,

• our ability to provide a broad range of logistics services, and

• our ability to provide door-to-door services on a worldwide basis.

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