Amid a pandemic-era global supply chain crisis, the global logistics of a father-daughter tandem is providing clients a growing international network of solutions. Founded in 2003, Boone County, Kentucky-headquartered IPS Logistix started with humble beginnings.
Darrel Lyell stared the business as a simple transportation company. He had one van, and he worked out of the family’s upstairs closet.
“I was in my early teens then, so some of my earliest memories are getting into the van with my dad to go make local deliveries,” says daughter Whitney Lyell, vice president of operations for IPS Logistix.
IPS is closeted no more, and the company’s burgeoning purview has seen the supply chain firm vastly expand from one van and a closet office into a coast-to-coast domestic warehouse and fulfillment operation with a global influence, all coalesced by a trio of in-house companies.
Adding crucial roots to the family work tree, Whitney made a difficult decision to leave her career as a full-time dispatcher with the Kentucky State Police to join the bustling business full-time. The company’s initial warehouse was part of the Louisville Underground historical cave system. After acquiring its first big client, IPS moved to Northern Kentucky and matured into a full-service fulfillment logistics, transportation, and brokerage group services.
“When we first started, supply chain logistics was heavily centered around B-to-B services; your brick-and-mortars with goods going from one business to the next,” Lyell says. “But over time, amidst e-commerce booming, the business has largely shifted to B-to-C services, including sales direct to the customers. So, more fulfillment and warehouse businesses were taking off — that’s the new norm.”
A recent timeline of IPS’ growth now finds the company with warehouses at the Port of CVG in Erlanger, Kentucky, followed by expanding to the East Coast in Fords, New Jersey. In August of 2021, IPS completed an additional expansion, with a West Coast debut of its 8,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Commerce, Calif., just outside of Los Angeles. By providing full-service supply chain solutions, the IPS global partnership offers domestic and international clients everything from transportation logistics and fulfillment services, to import-export Customs Brokerage Bonded carrier services, warehouse storage and delivery.
“Two of the main domestic ports are off the West Coast – and many of our clients wanted to import their goods on the coast,” Lyell says. “But they wouldn’t want to incur the additional transportation costs of getting their goods to a facility that was, essentially, across the country.”
The losses turned into a mindset of gains. So, what would they do? IPS acquired a warehouse on the West Coast. The loss of so many clients over the years just really made the Lyell’s see the benefits that would come from being able to offer the options that we previously couldn’t.
“Once we had it up-and-running, it put us in a strong strategic place to move forward,” Whitney says.
IPS now handles 30,000+ parcels a week with better than 100,000 e-commerce customers. “The third-person logistics platforms (3PLs) are right in our wheelhouse.” she adds. “With these third-party platforms — there are now so many individuals selling things that anybody who wants to sell overseas — the product needs to be vetted in some way. We have a feature that a tiny percentage of companies can offer in that we are the vetting service for those packages.”
At a time when COVID complications and concerns have presented all manners of shipping and labor encumbrances, delays and interruptions, IPS has opted to hit the gas instead of waffling on the brakes.
“With the pandemic and the way e-commerce took off, I’m not sure anybody was totally prepared for how big and fast the industry was going to get,” Lyell says. “And with the initial industry projections, this momentum could go on for another two years, if not here to stay.”
The pandemic forced companies to keep lean inventory on-hand in order to have low overhead costs. But companies had goods flying off the shelf and then suddenly the inventory was not just depleted, but there’s been a supply chain back-up. This ultimately caused some businesses at a standstill.
With its global supply chain movement in fifth gear, IPS is far from motionlessness. From a family mind-mend to international logistics, the company is primed to remain proactive amid complex times.
“The pandemic changes the way many businesses are moving forward. For IPS, we decided in the midst of the COVID, that now was a time that we were going to take that leap to expand to the coasts and to move forward in a time of uncertainly,” Lyell concludes. “And, yes, we’re still in a time with a lot of uncertainly, but we’re hoping that making these moves now will serve our clients well in three-to-five years’ ahead.”
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