LoadMaster LTL is made possible through the acquisition of Enterprise Information Solutions of Downer's Grove, Ill., which already has an operations software program for the LTL market.
Tom McLeod, CEO and founder of Birmingham, Ala.-based McLeod Software, said the EIS product is "extremely complementary in terms of its functionality. It's going to allow us to expand our footprint in the transportation marketplace."
McLeod Software is integrating the EIS application software product with the company's flagship LoadMaster enterprise dispatch management system to allow McLeod customers to support a truckload operations model, an LTL operations model, or both operating models within the same enterprise.
"Most of the LTL carriers are doing like many of the truckload carriers and diversifying their operations," McLeod noted. "Most of them are opening truckload divisions, opening brokerage divisions, and doing various things to serve their customers better. And they're looking for a unified product platform to serve their customers with."
McLeod also emphasized the LoadMaster LTL will be scalable, allowing the company to serve larger, mid-size and smaller LTL players. "This also puts us in close alignment with our service philosophy on the truckload side and the markets we've been in for 25 years."
He also pointed out that McLeod is not totally new to the LTL market. "We have offered now for some time an LTL consolidation module as part of our truckload product, which allows a truckload carrier to put two or more shipments onto the same trailer." There are 150 customers already using this partial shipment consolidation module. And, McLeod noted that very early in his career, he was a software developer designing rating systems for LTL carriers, one that was used by Overnite, Old Dominion and other LTL carriers in the years following deregulation.
The acquisition also brings capabilities that will enhance offerings to McLeod's existing customer base, such as telephone call center integration, and an application for mobile smart phones.
Both McLeod and EIS have built their products on open systems standards using the Java
development environment. Additionally, both companies have architected their applications software products to support multiple operating systems, a diverse choice of database management systems, standard graphical user interfaces, and full integration with mobile communications.
"It's almost scary in terms of how similar we are and how well we can mesh together," says Marc Mitchell, EIS founder.
McLeod said the LTL marketplace is not well-served by a market leader in terms of functionality, installed base, or in terms of some of the capability carriers are looking for. "Most, especially the larger regional LTLs, are on legacy platforms that are by and large internally self-maintained, so there hasn't been a strong player, it doesn't seem to me, to provide leadership in that space," he explained.
McLeod and EIS believe the merger of the EIS product with McLeod's larger marketing and business presence will help it offer that type of leadership. Mitchell admits the company's expertise was more in the development side than in the marketing side. And some potential customers liked the software but were wary of dealing with such a small company.
Mitchell is joining McLeod as the product manager for LoadMaster LTL, and is bringing a number of his employees with him. He and his staff will continue to work from the former EIS office in Illinois, which is now McLeod's new Midwest regional office.
The initial "phase one" integration of the EIS offering into McLeod's LoadMaster system is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2011. There will also be a second and third phase, McLeod explained to "bring the products to total unification."