With a 40-year legacy borne out of shipping giant Maersk, Direct ChassisLink (DCLI) is a leading provider of marine and domestic chassis and asset management services to the North American intermodal industry. Since EQT Infrastructure acquired DCLI in May 2016, DCLI has doubled in size, strengthened its margins and expanded its digital supply chain platform.
EQT was initially attracted to DCLI thanks to its position as a leading asset provider in the growing North American intermodal market and saw opportunities to develop DCLI further. Its assets are a key component of the transportation value chain used to carry shipping containers between marine ports and end destinations or to intermodal hubs for long-haul transport by rail or truck. The US is particularly reliant on this form of transportation given the sizeable number of imported and domestic goods that require delivery across large stretches of the country via ground transport. EQT saw even greater potential to take advantage of the rapidly expanding import/export and domestic volumes in North America by diversifying DCLI’s product and service offerings.
Becoming the largest chassis provider in North America
After partnering with DCLI, EQT supported the management team in defining a new value creation plan. An improved governance structure was put in place and a new independent board of directors, which included members of EQT’s Industrial Network, was installed to advise management and implement strategic changes.
“By adding relevant experience to the board, EQT has helped build the foundation necessary for management to deliver on the new value creation plan. Having a proven hands-on team of industry experts has been crucial in developing DCLI’s strategy and ensuring it remains a leader in providing its customers with real-time product information”, said Erwin Thompson, Partner at EQT Partners and Investment Advisor to EQT Infrastructure.
Together with the management team, EQT has supported DCLI in executing on a business plan focused on accelerated growth. In early 2018, DCLI acquired a fleet of approximately 73,000 domestic chassis supporting blue-chip customers through long-term agreements from TRAC Intermodal. The transaction not only nearly doubled the size of DCLI, but also diversified the company’s customer base. In addition, it expanded DCLI’s national footprint to encompass all major ports and railway terminals in the US, positioning it as a leading chassis provider in the ever-growing North American market.
Driving digital transformation of the global supply chain
DCLI’s digital offerings proved to be another area for differentiation, particularly with respect to its supply chain platform delivered by its subsidiary, Blume Global. Blume Global, formerly known as REZ-1, serves the global supply chain market. Leveraging advanced technologies, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), blockchain, and its data-driven approach, Blume Global software solutions and technology platform enable trading partners in the global supply chain ecosystem to combine real-time visibility across the supply chain with logistics execution and fulfillment and financial settlement.
“The technologies that are reshaping virtually every industry - artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics - are optimizing every element of the supply chain, from sourcing through settlement”, said Pervinder Johar, CEO of Blume Global. “Blume Global is seizing this opportunity, combining a quarter century of supply chain visibility innovation, a robust global logistics network and powerful new technologies that deliver an exceptional customer experience. We are empowering our customers to orchestrate and leverage the full potential of their global supply chain ecosystems.”
Blume Global has developed its offering to include asset management, logistics execution, end-to-end supply chain visibility, optimization, automated financial settlement and more by leveraging nearly 25 years of data and customer insights. Since 1994, Blume Global has built a trusted platform in the intermodal space with 5,000+ users, 4,000+ motor carriers and 1,400+ intermodal marketing companies (IMCs). The Blume platform processes USD 1 billion in transactions for customers with 99.99 percent billing accuracy.
“We recognized early on the need for offering our customers a more complete solution across assets and the supply chain, and our acquisition of Blume Global in 2014 was a key part of this strategy”, said Bill Shea, CEO of DCLI. “We have worked closely with Blume Global to build and deliver solutions that benefit all participants in the global supply chain ecosystem to accelerate their businesses and create new value within and across their networks. Beyond adding significant value for DCLI customers, Blume solutions power supply chain networks and networks of networks globally, opening up entirely new markets for Blume solutions on the global stage.”
EQT saw an opportunity to expand the digital platform to other facets of the intermodal industry to address evolving customer needs and pain points.
“Blume Global is a real game changer in an industry dependent on visibility”, said Erwin Thompson. “Companies like Amazon have transformed customer expectations with increased demand for speed and oversight of deliveries. It is clear that innovative, digital solutions are necessary to address these evolving customer needs. Blume Global has enabled DCLI to take a leading position in providing a comprehensive digital platform for the entire supply chain ecosystem.”