ConData reaches out to Europe

ConData may not be a name that is on every shipping manager’s lips on this side of the Pond, but the company is gradually increasing its presence in Europe, says chief executive Dave Newberry. It is in fact one of the largest

freight audit and pay (FAP) companies in its home country, the US, and was established over 60 years ago. It mainly carries out post-auditing of freight bills for its customers, working for some of the largest blue-chip companies. “We have in fact had an active

presence in Europe for at least a couple of decades,” Newberry explains. “We have a dedicated claims team in Europe, but not until now an active sales and marketing presence. But as the market there is developing, we and the intention is to have a significant local presence, with local representatives and a presence at conferences and trade shows.” He adds: “We are also looking

at key partnerships with other companies.” This might be other FAP firms

– ConData does cooperate with a number of them in specific areas - or with firms outside that space. ConData’s initial development

will probably be in Western Europe, as that is where most of its major customers are active, but it will also pay attention to Asia. It recently won its first China- domiciled shipper customer. It has a long history of working in Japan, mostly for


with a significant freight spend into the US, and it also carries out post-audit processes for US- based shippers with significant

Recruiting an FAP service

provider is not necessarily expensive, says Newberry – in fact it might not cost anything at all if it can realise significant cash recovery on freight bills. This is particularly true at the

present time, where the Covid crisis has led to unprecedented volatility in rates and volumes and shippers have oſten been forced to change carriers at short notice. “If there is lots of change in rates or vendors, that is when errors can occur, so we have been seeing increased demand for our services,” states Newberry. However, cost recovery is

A second opinion

ConData is oſten called on by its clients to carry out a second freight post audit, especially by shippers with an overall transportation spend of over $100 million a year, or by those who want to know whether their first post audit is effective. Although the second post

audit will sometimes be limited by contractual statutes, ConData says that its proprietary technology

will identify all issues that are within statute or

have no time limitations such as duplicate payments. In addition, a second post

audit can produce information that helps clients to make effective strategic decisions in areas such as supply chain and carrier performance, contract negotiations, total delivered cost management or purchasing best practices. ConData adds that its second

post audit is free if it finds no savings.

shippers, even when they have a solid contract, are generally at a disadvantage when trying to negotiate with carriers. “It’s important to have an expert to help you,” he explains. Interestingly, says Newberry,

many of the companies that ConData works for already have internal freight audit teams, but its relations with them are generally perfectly amicable. Most in- house departments are very overworked with their day to day tasks and what ConData can do is bring its years of experience and its modal experts to the party. The freight market is a fast

changing, highly dynamic environment and this is what makes analysing freight spending so challenging, says Newberry. If it was just a simple matter of analysing a single set of rates and checking for errors, FAP firms probably wouldn’t have much of a business; the difficult part is keeping up with all the changes. And failure to keep track of changes oſten compounds the problem and can end up as a significant drag on a company’s efficiency. The ultra-volatile freight

market of 2020 is without precedent, of course, and many | 216.267.2000, ext 2190 |

spending in Asia. It also has a presence in Latin America. Awareness of freight audit

in Europe is growing, says Newberry. People there “are not necessarily unaware,


difficulty is that in the past the service offerings in Europe have been a bit limited.” However, those offerings

are being improved and firms in

Europe are becoming

increasingly aware of the potential savings that they can make by outsourcing FAP activity.

only a small part of ConData’s work, although, as described, it can in itself result in a significant saving to the client. But where it provides real value is in analysing its

customers’ global freight

spending and procurement and putting them on a more effective footing. It can leaf through hundreds of pages of negotiated rates and, using its experience and visibility of the market, explain how its clients can do things better. Freight rates are complex and fast-changing things, and

shippers found themselves in a position of having to pay whatever the going rate was to ship vital material or shut down their operations. However, even in these most

extreme circumstances, it is important for shippers to ensure that proper procedures have been carried out and that they have not been unnecessarily penalised by out-of-contract charges. Even in a soaring spot market, it’s important to ensure that the company doesn’t end

Issue 7 2020 - Freight Business Journal

up writing a blank cheque to carriers. The Covid crisis has been an

interesting learning curve for ConData, as well as its customers, adds Newberry. One thing that it did was to give its management “a lot of confidence in our ability to work remotely; we were able to take on contracts with a more distributed team, and demonstrated our ability to do it constructively”. ConData took on a major

piece of parcels auditing business during the lockdown and has been able to handle it fully remotely. That experience will

stand the company in good stead when it considers how to expand is geographical sphere of activities. However, Newberry has no plans to get rid of bricks and mortar offices, including the new headquarters in West Chicago that it was poised to move into but will now be put on hold for the time being.

25 It is perfectly feasible to carry

out the company’s day to day activities with people working from home over the Internet or by phone, but intangibles such as fostering company culture or building a sense of community are much harder. Newberry is particularly concerned that young people starting out in the world or work could miss out on vital aspects of their professional development. The new larger HQ will

also be a vital component of ConData’s expansion. It will allow for a greatly expanded engineering team who will work on automation of data gathering – which will in turn allows ConData to extend its services to more small and medium sized shippers. It will also be vital for the geographical


expansion as well as enabling it to expand its range services – something that Newberry plans to pursue through partnerships or acquisitions.

Freight Audit & Payment since 1923

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