Sunland Logistics Solutions is a supply chain and logistics partner specializing in providing warehouse logistics, inventory management, and value-added services to companies primarily in the retail/e-commerce, automotive, industrial, and chemical industries. Originally founded in 1982, Sunland has been experiencing significant growth and attracting some of the supply chain logistics industry’s top talent. The Sunland team is focused on being a flexible third-party logistics partner that provides world-class service with a winning continuous improvement culture.
Competition, Culture, & the Logistics Industry
Sunland Logistics Solutions is no stranger to competition. Third-party logistics, commonly referred to as 3PL, is a trillion-dollar industry that must constantly evolve to constraints across the globe. Logistics companies must navigate pandemics, shortages, and wars to ensure that products get from point A to point B on time.
Even with the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry, Sunland helped preserve its culture by celebrating the success of individual team members. Sabrina Fischer, Director of Human Resources, gave some insight into the importance of company culture at Sunland. “We’re very proud of it. There’s a family feel; people generally genuinely care for one another here and it all starts at the top with our CEO,” Fischer said.
With its winning continuous-improvement outlook and over 40 years of experience in the logistics industry, Sunland Logistic Solutions sets itself apart. The South Carolina-headquartered logistics company has been recognized as one of Inbound Logistics Magazine’s Top 100 3PL Providers.
Fischer credits this achievement to Sunland’s team members and company culture. “It’s not just credibility for our customers … but also the credibility and value we gain from our team members. It’s their work and consistent performance that has resulted in Sunland being recognized for excellence in the industry,” She explained.
Building Engagement & Culture from the Top
2013 was a big year for Sunland Logistics Solutions. CEO Arch Thomason was ready to redefine company culture and hiring practices with the help of a newly-recruited and highly-engaged leadership team. “He looked at the leadership and hiring practices that emphasized character, not just skillset,” Fischer stated. This connection to our values is consistently reinforced throughout the team member life cycle.
Upon hire, each leader receives a collection of books that helps to continually shape Sunland’s future. The Case for Servant Leadership by Kent M. Keith, Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams and Good to Great by Jim Collin, are cornerstones of the collection each driving a specific element of Sunland’s culture and value set.
As leadership evolved, the company’s focus shifted from local, 3PL warehouse services to lean logistics and long-term performance as a warehouse & logistics solution and partner to its customers. This sparked a need for an engaging company culture that was both quality-driven and focused on continuous improvement.
Almost a decade later, Thomason’s efforts in 2013 are largely visible. What began as achievable, but long-term ideals for the company are now evident in the day-to-day interactions between team members. “It’s our teams’ ability to solve problems at all levels … that best indicates … that strong team member engagement really is the backbone of our company,” Fischer said.
True to its company-wide standard of continuous improvement, Sunland’s internal efforts to improve company culture aren’t complete. As the 3PL provider looks to expand its team with top talent across the logistics and supply chain industries, Fischer explained that the ideals set in 2013 continue to drive and inform decisions to this day.
Facing Challenges & Fostering Engagement
The 3PL industry is full of challenges. Some are seasonal, like the winter holidays or back-to-school, where there’s an influx of products saturating the market and the time constraint for getting each product to the right location is stricter than ever. Others are long-term, such as fuel shortages and overcrowded ports. Regardless of the challenge, Sunland ensures that its teams are well equipped to handle any situation through education, support, and team engagement.
The landscape following the pandemic has changed. Sunland is prioritizing the team member experience by developing a stronger and more robust onboarding process that ensures established expectations are understood, introducing new team members to their coworkers, and thorough training is provided. Fischer explains that Sunland has seen the most success in prioritizing visual management and visual work instruction that makes warehouse tasks easy to understand. “We believe it can help new team members on board and be able to ramp up, improve performance, and be recognized,” she said.
Such training is particularly important as e-commerce fulfillment demands fluctuate throughout the year. During busier seasons, Sunland hires temporary staffing to both ensure the health and safety of its team members and meet the needs of its customers. “This really has resulted in a lot more of a dynamic warehouse environment; for both the needs of warehouse services team members and from a technology standpoint,” Fischer stated. “We had to re-evaluate the needs of our warehouse team members and make sure we weren’t creating burnout or expecting ‘Christmas-level’ effort year-round.”
As e-commerce fulfillment needs continue to fluctuate, programs such as ICARE help foster team engagement by highlighting and encouraging exceptional work. “ICARE is a quarterly program that recognizes input and team members for going over and beyond: Such as improving a process or procedure, or maybe being recognized by a customer.” Fisher explained.
Sunland has also created other engagement-based programs, such as new and improved communication channels, weekly Friday kick-off meetings, community service project committee and a safety program with a team in each warehouse to keep every team member safe and in the know on all safety requirements. Each May, Sunland also distributes an engagement survey. “It’s a key part of our leadership objectives to achieve high scores on this internal survey,” Fischer describes. “At a minimum, we’re looking for a 70 percent participation rate on everything. We use the valuable input from these surveys to prioritize improvement projects to better serve our Sunland team members.”
Sunland Logistics Solutions prioritizes the team member experience with a continuous improvement approach to company culture and a focus on communication and team engagement. From a company-wide culture shift in 2013 to celebrating team member and repeating its position as a Top 100 3PL Provider in the face of global and industry-wide challenges, Sunland demonstrates that it is committed to excellence across the 3PL industry as both an employer and a service provider.