If you ask what drives Sam Burkhan, founder and CEO of ITF Group, he would tell you, at the core of it, it’s helping people. Though Sam’s background was in finance, through his experience working as a dispatcher for a small trucking company 13 years ago, he was introduced to the world of logistics. It was where he discovered that he could make a positive impact in solving drivers’ and shippers’ problems each day.
As building strong relationships is of such importance in the logistics industry, it seems natural that Sam is now leading his own full-service transportation company where every day he lives and breathes his passion for helping others. “At the end of the day, realizing that you are helping people just makes you feel better,” Sam said. In 2012, Sam founded ITF Group with assistance from his brother, Bek (Doni) Burkhan and family. “Our goal is to serve our customers and give them the best service that we can,” Doni said.
From the beginning, ITF Group has focused on building tailored solutions and growing sustainable relationships with each customer. These ideas have carried the 4PL to where it is today — and are still steering the business’ continual growth through the addition of new services and the adoption of innovative technologies. The business started with just one tractor-trailer. Today, ITF Group is made up of 300 trucks, more than 1,500 trailers and 40,000 contracted carriers and two fulfillment and distribution centers in Missouri and it provides a wide range of transportation services.
With teams in both the U.S. and the brothers’ native country of Uzbekistan, ITF can dispatch around the clock to meet customers’ individual needs. No matter when freight needs to be delivered, ITF will ensure it gets there on time; its drivers have a 95% on-time delivery rate. “As the CEO of the company, I’m heavily involved in the operations itself as well. I personally review our scorecards with our clients. I personally support every meeting with our customers to make sure we’re performing. We’re constantly in touch with customers to make sure services and standards are met,” Sam said.
The company continues on its upward trajectory, recognized as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. by Inc. 5000 and St. Louis Business Journal. It has big plans for growth moving forward. ITF’s advantage compared to its peers in the space, Sam said, is that its performance-driven, dedicated and strong leaders in the organization are able to identify problems and are always ready to solve them with a positive attitude.
“Even though the fleet market is soft at the moment, we’re onboarding large and midsize customers on a weekly basis and planning to grow our geographical area into multiple Midwest locations. We’ve been heavily investing in technology and new equipment, trucks and trailers,” Sam explained. “We’re going to be focusing for the next two years to make sure our customers are ahead of receiving the advanced technology and efficient service experience. Along with it, we’re going to be growing our teams inside the U.S. and outside.”
A big part of ITF Group’s strategy to serve customers is by leveraging technologies. The business invests in cloud technologies and automation in addition to real-time tracking capabilities for its shippers. ITF Group also offers a comprehensive e-commerce platform for integration between shipping, electronic data interchange, enterprise resource planning and accounting systems.
In 2013, after recognizing that the supply chain faced several communication inefficiencies, Doni first got the idea to create a platform to eliminate the back-and-forth phone and email communications about common processes surrounding quotes, rate confirmations and tracking. He sought to create a platform that would be a direct line from shippers to haulers to expedite the whole process and remove the middleman.
“There weren’t solutions on the market at that time that would solve the challenges that truck drivers and shippers face during day-to-day operations,” Sam said. The brothers tabled the idea for a few years while they focused on the trucking, warehousing and distribution, and logistics side of the business. A few years later, they knew it was time to return to their idea. Doni stepped down from day-to-day operations at ITF to give his full attention to it.
While Doni and Sam knew they would need to hire engineers and to develop this service, without core knowledge on the subject, they knew the project wouldn’t get off the ground. That’s when Doni enrolled at Columbia University in New York to work toward a certificate in technology development. He came back with his knowledge and experience to start building the team behind HaulerHub, which was founded by the two brothers and third co-founder, Sam Agyemang.
HaulerHub, which has been developed over the last five years, will bring to life the idea to connect shippers and drivers directly for capacity solutions, end-to-end transparency, real-time visibility into shipment status and route optimization — a one-stop shop. “Instead of jumping around from screen to screen, users will have all of their solutions on one platform. This will help them ship their products efficiently and have full access to financial data including transportation costs,” Sam said.
Ultimately, by eliminating the middleman and using the system’s real-time quoting feature for fair market pricing, both parties win. With ITF Group and HaulerHub, the two brothers are continuing to innovate and deliver unmatched value to the transportation industry.