About 1990, the CSX railroad and American Airlines found that they were handling multi-modal shipments together. They each had their individual electronic tracking and tracing systems. It was a natural move to link those systems together. To do so, they formed a joint venture called Global Logistics Venture (GLV). Over the years, it had its ups and downs, and changed its name to Encompass and later BridgePoint. We linked to other carriers, including ocean and trucking.
I was one of the first employees, doing programming and analysis. I was part of a skunk works project. We put together a large database showing all the movements of goods that any of the carriers in the project was able to perform, and used it to generate an itinerary for any shipment.
For the 1994 annual company meeting, my boss, Rick Poff, wanted to put on a dog and pony show.He asked me to write a theme song for it. I said sure, if I could do it on company time.Rick loved it, and asked me for the sheet music again and again. For the show, he cobbled me a container costume. It was a big box hanging from my shoulders on suspenders.About a dozen of us sang this song:
A FREIGHT WORSE THAN DEATH, or, I THOUGHT HE SAID, “SEND IT F.O.B” HOW COULD I KNOW HIS UPPER PLATE WAS LOOSE?
- I’ve got a load of freight to move across the state.If it’s not there tomorrow, There’s a fine. I’ve got to move this crate, and it can’t get there late, or else my job will lay right on the line. Encompass, tell me where my cargo’s gone, Is it en route or is it on my lawn? Please say it’s almost there, ’cause if it’s not, I’m in a pot of water and it’s getting hot.
- . I’ve got a full truck load that should be on the road. It’s due in North Dakota in a week. I sent a brand-new chair to Singapore by air, And when the chair got there it was antique. Encompass, let me see your crystal ball. Let me say, “Mirror, mirror on my wall.” Encompass, let me rub your magic lamp. I’m not a chump if you can help me be a champ.
- I’ve got a full container bound for Transylvania on the Lusitania, and I hope She doesn’t hit a reef, she doesn’t come to grief; it’s full of iron bars, not Ivory Soap. Encompass, help me pick which goods to ship, and find the route that’s fastest for the trip.Each carrier summon to a rendezvous, and track and trace and see how good a job they do. If you can do all these, Logistics is a breeze. I want all this and more in ninety-four!
For the 1995 company meeting, we reprised the song, updating the last line, to go “We’ve got the basics down, it’s time to go to town–the future will arrive in ninety-five!”