“Ask Maze.” It’s an oft-repeated phrase at Transfix since Justin Maze is the resident expert on what is happening minute-to-minute in trucking logistics in America. As a senior manager of operations, Maze spends his days running the daily operations and overseeing a team of carrier managers. He constantly monitors data dashboards and real-time feedback from carriers nationwide. He monitors this steady stream of on-the-ground information while voraciously consuming the most recent industry media around truck, rail, ocean, and air trends. This allows him to create a holistic, fully informed view of not only what is happening right now, but also how the next days, weeks, and months will unfold. He is the great mind behind our popular weekly Transfix Take series, which provide Transfix’s inside scoop on the state of trucking and the supply chain.
Yet, despite being an expert in the trucking space, Maze’s background lends itself to somewhat of a different path. Born, bred, and schooled in South New Jersey, he studied business at Rowan University before becoming director of operations for a chain of amusement parks. It was there he discovered his love for operational logistics and all the functions that make a business run. Maze knew he wanted to work at a startup. “I wanted to be able to grow within a company and be there while it was growing at a high pace,” he says. “I like working hard to get something from the bottom to the top.” And then came Transfix.
I wanted to be the expert at why we’re doing certain things on the floor.
“I fell in love with the freight industry for a number of reasons, from a macro-micro economic environment to the sight of how operationally the world moves freight around,” Maze explains. Fastidiously monitoring industry experts and researching raw data is what gave Maze a depth of knowledge, but being in the weeds of a load’s life cycle was what propelled his ability to forecast which way the market could swing. “There’s so much that is built into what we’re doing day-to-day, that provides a fact-based view of what’s really happening in transportation in real-time. Armed with such a rich data set founded on high volume, nationwide transactions,, I wanted to be the expert at why we’re doing certain things on the floor. By harnessing such a broad set of inputs including actual transactional data, we can really be strategic about how we’re adjusting to the market and delivering as much value to shippers and carriers as possible.”
There’s a method to the madness, which Maze has meticulously formulated over the course of his many years at Transfix. “I try to take two different overall approaches when forming my opinion,” he explains. “The first is more of an outlook on the future. Forming my opinion here, I center around data points such as past trends, macro/microeconomic data, forward-looking indexes (LMI/PMI), and forward-looking maritime data.” His second approach centers heavily on forming an opinion on the near/short-term future, usually as close as tomorrow and as far out as next week that considers carrier opinions, interviews, internal data, and internal carrier representative feedback. Part of that introspect comes with a bird’s eye view of what loads look like on a day-in, day-out basis — for example, “I can look at all of that [aforementioned] data, but I can also look at what’s actually happening on the floor today, which the data isn’t capturing yet.” It’s as robust of a methodology as one can find – unique to Transfix but proprietary to Maze.
With this year almost behind us, as our most volatile yet, the Transfix Take has provided insight keeping shippers up to date on what to expect with rates, including how events like COVID-19, Paycheck Protection Program loan payouts, and the presidential election impact swings and troughs in trucking. Maze offers, “No one would have imagined the number of freight cycles that we have seen in just the last 7 months. It’s as if we put three years of freight cycles into 7 months completely shocking the industry with record lows and highs.”
We have a more thought-out process about how we can actually change the way the industry operates.
While his interest in the trucking industry brought him to Transfix, it’s our business practices that make him love his job. “Compared with other tech startups in the field, at Transfix, we have a more thought-out process about how we can actually change the way the industry operates,” Maze says. “We’re connecting with large CPG enterprise shippers and really taking a look at how they run their supply chain and how we can help them rearrange it. A lot of companies stress technology, technology, technology. We have great technology, but when we’re in client meetings, we also stress operations. That is, ultimately, what the supply chain is. Tech influences and empowers how we operate. We partner with our clients so they can operate better.”