Case Study: Cascades



Leonard’s Express has been a commercial carrier for Cascades Tissue Group for more than a decade. Through the years, their relationship has flourished. Today, Leonard’s Express also provides freight brokerage and intermodal services for Cascades. Forged on a rock-solid foundation of trust, accountability, and mutual respect, it’s a partnership built to stand the test of time.

Cascades is the third largest manufacturer of unbranded tissue in North America, reporting global sales of more than $4 billion USD last year. Founded in 1964, Cascades offers sustainable, innovative, and value-added solutions for packaging, hygiene, and recovery needs. The company employs approximately 11,700 women and men who work in 85 production units in North America and Europe.

Cascades is well known for producing packaging and tissue products that are composed mainly of recycled fibers. The company manufactures a wide range of consumer and commercial products including paper towels, toilet paper, facial tissue, napkins, and cup trays (such as the soft drink carriers that fast food restaurants give to customers).

Cascades also produces sustainable packaging solutions including corrugated food containers, egg crates, baskets and bins for fruits and vegetables, and pizza boxes. Everything Cascades produces is manufactured with environmental sustainability in mind.

“We’re extremely environmentally conscious,” said Tom Buckli, Logistics and Distribution Center Manager for Cascades Tissue. “We strive to make the world better, not only for our customers and employees, but for everyone on the planet.”

The Challenge

Cascades has six tissue plants across the United States and additional plants that manufacture products such as corrugated packaging, bailing wire, egg crates and cup carriers. Walmart is the Tissue Group’s largest client, accounting for about 60% of its business, with Dollar General and Walgreens among the growing number of large retail clients.

With an extraordinary roster of clients and a firm commitment to grow the business while making a positive impact on the world, Cascades selects only the best transportation service providers – their reputation depends on it. On-time pickup and delivery and strict compliance with data input requirements are a must.

Leonard’s Express is one of these carriers. With more than ten years’ experience working with Cascades, Leonard’s is one of its longest tenured freight haulers. The family owned, asset-based transportation provider has more than 650 trucks and 14 facilities located throughout the United States.

“Leonards Express offers a wide range of services across many industries,” said Mike Riccio, Chief Marketing Officer of Leonard’s Express. “With our nationwide footprint, we’re big enough to tailor solutions to fit the specific supply chain needs of our customers but our mentality as a family-owned business is to remain ‘small enough’ to treat every customer with the highest level of personal attention and care.”

Intermodal Services deliver cost savings and environmental benefits

Personal attention, responsiveness, and the ability to tailor innovative solutions are the bedrock upon which the Cascades and Leonard’s Express relationship is built. In addition, Buckli cited Leonard’s Express’ versatility as not only an asset-based business with more than 650 trucks but also a freight broker that offers intermodal services as major advantages of working with them.

Intermodal Services allow for door-to-door, truck-like service at a fraction of the cost of traditional trucking methods. The more Cascades ships in a specific lane on rail, the better rate they get. Leonard’s Express finds transcontinental, regional, and dedicated rail options to provide the best possible shipping options. Making the most of the rail allows for decreased fuel cost and consumption and delivers significant environmental benefits.

Over the years, Cascades has rewarded Leonard’s Express with new opportunities for growth. “We have new lanes come up all the time and existing lanes where other carriers can’t cover the loads,” said Buckli. “I’m always looking for opportunities to give them more business. We understand each other and have been working together so long, they are always one of the first on my list to send out a request for bid proposals. That’s because I can rely on them.”

Inbound and outbound trucking supports Cascades’ use of reusable paper

Leonard’s Express provides both inbound and outbound services for Cascades, meaning drivers haul raw material into Cascades’ plants and then carry finished goods out.

“Most of the products Cascades produces are made from reusable paper,” said Laurie Weiss, Sales Executive for Leonard’s Express. “Leonard’s Express brings in the recyclable paper, then Cascades takes that paper, breaks it down and makes product out of it. Then we ship the product out to their various customers.”

“We do all of it by full truckloads,” said Buckli. “We do no LTL or ‘less than truckload’ type business with Leonard’s. We don’t ship via UPS or Federal Express with them, strictly full truckloads.”

“We’re doing a lot of business out of Niagara Falls,” said Weiss, referring to the facial tissue, toilet paper, and paper towels that Leonard’s Express delivers for Cascades. “We haul five to ten loads per day in and out of the Falls.” Leonard’s Express also carries loads from Virginia, Oklahoma, and Oregon, typically destined for customer locations across the United States and Canada and the Cascades manufacturing plant in Wisconsin. “We are committed to about 65 lanes, so that business comes in automatically over the EDI (Electronic Data Interchange),” added Weiss.

What gets measured gets done

Over the years, Leonard’s Express Sales Executive Laurie Weiss has established a rock-solid relationship with Cascades Logistics and Distribution Center Manager Tom Buckli. They share personal and company values like integrity, respect, and transparency, but no business relationship can survive without accountability for results.

In keeping with the axiom, “what gets measured gets done,” Cascades and Leonard’s Express conduct bi-monthly scorecard reviews to assess the carrier’s performance against a set of clearly defined goals. They measure KPIs such as on-time pickup, on-time delivery, and compliance. Metrics for compliance include how quickly and accurately Leonard’s Express inputs critical data into Cascades’ transportation management system. Leonard’s Express consistently scores higher than 95% on compliance. Getting shipping information into the transportation management system in a timely fashion is critical because it allows Cascades to start the billing process, invoice its customers, and get paid.

Leonard’s Express works relentlessly to resolve issues. That’s what differentiates them from a lot of other transportation providers. They are tenacious. When there’s a problem, they dig in, put an action plan in place, and fix it.

“Overall, scores for Leonard’s Express are great,” said Buckli. “One of the things that amazes me is their ability to resolve issues quickly. In every shipper/carrier relationship, there will inevitably be issues. There are so many variables in this business that are outside our control – everybody has issues. But not everybody knows how to resolve them. Leonard’s Express works relentlessly to resolve issues. That’s what differentiates them from a lot of other transportation providers. They are tenacious. When there’s a problem, they dig in, put an action plan in place, and fix it.”

“We know we can speak frankly with Tom and his team,” said Todd Smith, Vice President of Sales for Leonard’s Express. “We know we can be transparent with them. And that helps us solve problems quicker because we can be open and honest, and we don’t have to hesitate.”

Ultimately, the most meaningful KPI is that Cascades keeps awarding more business to Leonard’s Express. “The best indicator that a carrier is doing a great job is when our volume with them increases. If you compare the first year we worked with Leonard’s Express to now, you see a dramatic increase in the amount of dollars we spent on freight and transportation services. I wouldn’t increase the volume or the dollar amount unless they were doing a great job.”

“Tom has been a great partner over the years,” concluded Riccio. “He’s always clear about his expectations, respectful when giving feedback, and fair when negotiating rates. That’s why we will ‘jump through hoops’ for Cascades. Trust and mutual respect underpin our relationship. That is something we truly appreciate and never take for granted.”