Simplify the shipping

A digital freight quote and management app helps take the challenge and confusion out of the freight spend

Photo: Rob Sunstrum and Adrian Kwasek of Digital Freight Group

LIKE GPS AND smart phones, the supply chain is ­something we rely on every day but don’t really understand. We’re ­certainly more educated about the challenges of global ­shipping than we were two years ago. One ship gets sideways in the Suez Canal for a week, and I can’t get power seats in my new car? Huh?

More tragically, the fires in B.C. last year meant shipments of goods across Canada were delayed for weeks.

Click here to view this story in magazine format

Long before the pandemic, while working for DHL, Rob Sunstrum was thinking about building a better shipping mousetrap — a portal of sorts where manufacturers could go to connect with shipping companies and move their freight simply and efficiently.

Story Continues Below


“Booking freight is a complicated, time-consuming ­process,” he says. “Manufacturers typically send out emails to freight companies. If you send out five and hear back from four, you’ve got four email chains going, all with different questions and pricing. And you have that for every shipment you’re making. It’s challenging to manage.”

Carl Thompson knows all too well the challenges of ­booking freight. The COO of London-based OES Scoreboards was one of the first people Sunstrum approached with his nascent idea.

“He was talking about replacing our system of printouts and binders and multiple emails to various vendors with a simple website. Cutting out all those steps made sense to me.”

Story Continues Below


It made sense to a lot of people Sunstrum approached, including one of the dads on his son’s Oakridge Aeros hockey team. Adrian Kwasek hadn’t worked in the freight industry, but he knew how to write computer code and understood the technical challenge of making Sunstrum’s concept a reality.

“The first time we had an in-depth talk about the idea was in my garage,” Sunstrum, 34, recalls. “It was right at the beginning of the pandemic, and we were organizing all the hockey ­equipment we had collected when the league shut down.”

Within weeks, they had designed an initial version of their digital freight quote system and Digital Freight Group was up and running. The first customer was Mississauga-based Magellan Aerospace. With Kwasek fine-tuning the website and Sunstrum selling the idea to manufacturers, they’ve grown impressively in the last 18 months.

Simplify the shipping digital freight Technology

To kick off 2022, the duo unveiled a revamped site, with a slicker ­interface and more options for customers. Manufacturers subscribe to the site and post shipping jobs by filling in details about the items being shipped, the ­location, the schedule and a variety of other variables. Responses from logistics companies are easy to compare, without needing multiple email screens, Post-it Notes and spiral notepads.

“People don’t like change,” says Thompson. “But once we started using it to ship our signs around the world, it was obvious how much better it was than what we had been doing.”

The busy season at OES is approaching, when high schools and other customers order new outdoor scoreboards. “It’s crazy busy in the summer, with three or four shipments a day,” Thompson says. “We have one shipping bay, so using the system even helped us free up time managing who arrived when. Plus, we can use the system to ship overseas as well.”

Story Continues Below


Digital Freight handles land, air and sea shipping and has branched out to the U.S.

“We’re happy with our progress and with the application itself,” Sunstrum says. “We update it every month and provide customers with a lot of data about their shipping they didn’t have access to in the past.” Simplify the shipping digital freight Technology Christopher Clark

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap