Endgame: Problem-Solving in the Logistics Industry


I HAVE ALWAYS been fascinated with puzzles. As a child, word search, crossword, scrambled words, and jigsaws were some of my favorites. Occasional trips to Cracker Barrel were a real treat because they had the horseshoes connected by a chain with the loop in the middle and the triangle pegboard with the golf tees. Getting the loop off the horseshoes was a real challenge. Dad could always do that one quickly, but it would take me most of the meal. He would laugh at my frustrations which would make me try even harder. The triangle peg board game with the golf tees was my specialty. I figured out a system: if I left the same, single hole empty at the beginning, I could fly through the steps. Like the puzzle’s tagline, “leave just one and you’re a genius.” I was a puzzle-loving, problem-solving genius.

Then came the puzzle on steroids called the Rubik’s Cube. You remember the little six-sided cube covered by nine stickers in six colors: white, red, blue, orange, green, and yellow. Twists and turns, looking from one side to the other and then more twists and turns trying to get all the same colors together on each of the six sides. Hours upon hours, miles upon miles of trips in the car trying to solve this little cube of frustration. Just as I thought I was about to master it, someone would come along, move it one way or the other, and I was back to square one.

It could have been my fascination with problem-solving that led me into the 3PL arena. After all, isn’t that what we do every day? We solve problems in the supply chain for our clients. We move the pieces of the puzzle for shippers, receivers, distribution centers, and warehouses with the endgame of solving their logistical issues. We develop processes, invest in technology, train our people, implement systems, and establish our business models all with the same goals of success, and as TIA Members, we do it very well.


However, just like the Cracker Barrel peg board game, if I left the same hole empty at the beginning, I could easily solve the puzzle. But what happened when I wasn’t in control of the one empty hole at the beginning?

Serving as your Chairman of the Board for the last two years has been one of the most rewarding and challenging times of my career. Together we have overcome many challenges. We have gone through major staffing changes at our association headquarters, replacing institutional knowledge that had been in place for more than 20 years. We overcame those changes and have been blessed with staffing additions that will pave the way for a new and brighter history in the chapters of the TIA novel.

We have been faced with a pandemic, unlike any we have ever seen. As we continue to navigate through that, we have grown as an association in many ways. We have perfected how to continue to serve and educate our members through technology and how to host and facilitate virtual meetings (albeit not our preference; I sure miss seeing all of you face-to-face) for our membership. TIA continues to move forward, improving and expanding our offerings to our membership. After all, our daily inspiration is to add value for our members and to make their businesses more successful.

In the 1998 book, Who Moved My Cheese, Dr. Spencer Johnson points out 15 core lessons about change in the landscape of business life. Three of those, I find most appropriate to where we are in our current lives:

#1 Change Is a Constant

Whether you appreciate it or not, the world is in constant flux and everything is always changing. Being able to roll with the punches and accept that things will change will result in a happier outlook on life and in business with a better strategy to reach your goals.

#2 The Old Ways Don’t Always Work

In the book, the characters learn early that returning to the old places where they had found the cheese before doesn’t work in their new circumstances. Don’t rely on the old ways of doing things when it comes to your business. Instead, adapt your game plan and be flexible enough to change how you operate to survive and thrive.

#3 Avoid Complacency

The ability to master new techniques will help you navigate the maze of business life and ensure that you can meet any challenge you might encounter. Skills are only useful if you continue to cultivate them. Practice change readiness and allow change to keep your business from stalling.

In closing, it’s been an honor in my life to serve this membership through these changes. Together we have been able to adapt, improve and overcome. We are a premier association because of the fortitude of our membership and because of the excellence of our staff. Over the last two years, someone grabbed our triangle pegboard game of golf tees and moved our starting hole. We’ve all had to develop new systems. However, with your willingness to change and with your TIA team watching over the game, I believe we will all be able to leave just one tee in the end. #beaTIAgenius

Brian Evans, CTB is President & CEO of L&L Freight Services, an exceptional freight management and property brokerage services based in Cabot, Arkansas.