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August 16, 2023
Amazon Freight: breaking down barriers for a shipper
For any business owner, operational barriers are detrimental. You want to focus on your product and customer. Anything getting in the way is a constraint to growth.

Before turning to Amazon Freight, Calgary-based Specialty Laminates had a major barrier, and that was freight. “It was a real challenge breaking into new markets across the United States,” says Jonny Nikolic, CEO, Specialty Laminates. “I would get tied up on phone calls with brokers waiting and waiting for quotes and losing out on bids because we were too late.”

When the quotes would eventually come in, Nikolic and his team struggled to get certainty around them, especially in times of volatility. They couldn’t get clear answers from their brokers. In turn, he couldn’t give accurate estimates to his customers.

The pain of a broken promise
Specialty Laminates was started by Nikolic’s father who arrived in Canada in the 1980s from Serbia. “My dad came over here with essentially nothing and took out a loan to start the company in 1990.”

Today, Specialty Laminates is a top manufacturer of Thermally Fused Laminates, which are used in anything from home kitchen cabinets to industrial fixtures at the world’s biggest retailers.

Since laminates are key parts of construction, they need to be in the hands of their customers (architects, contractors, builders, etc.) or else building stops. “It’s not good for us to operate in the gray area of shipping,” says Nikolic. If something goes wrong, his team needs to know as soon as possible.

This is especially important as a family-owned business that is built on long-term customer relationships. “The pain of not delivering for our customers is the pain of a broken promise,” says Nikolic. “Communication is so important.”

The joy of a broken barrier
About two years ago, Nikolic and his team were feeling all this pain acutely. It was the holiday season, which tied up capacity along the Interstate 5 corridor. Specialty Laminates uses that route heavily since one of its plants is in Eugene, Oregon. A distributor mentioned Amazon Freight to him, and he decided to try it.

The results were nearly immediate. Within the Amazon Freight portal, he could instantly access on-demand quotes and real-time data. The interface was completely self-service and easy-to-use, he says. There were no more back-and-forth phone calls to brokers, endless waiting, and unreliable pricing data.

With the instant quoting data from Amazon Freight, he could talk to distributors in new markets and quickly make selling decisions about whether to expand in those areas. Because of this, they could start competing with the larger manufacturing organizations that had their own freight assets. “It gave our entire team the ability to reach markets that we never thought were possible with historical brokers,” he says. “We’re now winning bids over our competitors.”

Specialty Laminates also experienced greater visibility to their loads and where they were en route. Each of Amazon Freight’s 50,000+ trailers and carriers is equipped with GPS tracking that is fed into the portal. In fact, while on an overseas vacation, Nikolic was able to track a shipment and let the customer know the status within 30 minutes.

What started as one 5,000 square foot manufacturing facility is four locations with more than a million square feet today. “Freight used to be a barrier to our growth, but now it’s an opportunity to access new markets because of Amazon Freight,” says Nikolic.

The future looks even brighter for Specialty Laminates. “We are in the process of adding additional equipment and manufacturing capacity, which means we will be able to utilize Amazon Freight to a greater degree going forward.”

Your business can tap into the same experience as Specialty Laminates and overcome your own freight obstacles. Get started by creating an account, getting quotes, and booking immediately.
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