Case Study:
Mann Lake Ltd.




Annual LTL Savings


Annual Parcel Savings

Automated Shipping Process with TMS


For 35 years, Mann Lake Ltd. has provided live bees, protective gear, kits, hive components, extraction and bottling equipment, and more for professional beekeepers and beginner hobbyists alike. With its main branch in Hackensack, Minnesota, Mann Lake is on a mission to keep the honeybee—a natural pollinator—flourishing. Today, Mann Lake has production facilities in Minnesota, California, Pennsylvania and Texas, and more locations are planned for the future.


Throughout its history, Mann Lake has grown 40% through acquisitions and is poised for 220% growth in the coming years. This growth led to a decentralized environment for shipping and little transparency to uncover opportunities for optimization. Plus, the company was using a single source for less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping with limited ability to negotiate rates and service standards.

In addition, Mann Lake’s manual freight shipment process required two employees to be at desks all day processing orders for shipment. The company’s chief financial officer, Shana Rowlette, had little time to source a variety of carriers, negotiate contracts, ensure pickups were being made and evaluate key performance indicators on service and claims.

“All the freight negotiating was on my plate, but I didn’t have time to focus on it,” said Rowlette. “We would get rate increases and I didn’t know why. It kept bothering me seeing the price we were paying for our freight.”


Eventually, the situation reached a breaking point with Rowlette and she agreed to let AFS conduct an audit of its parcel freight spend. At the time, Mann Lake was spending $7.5 million annually on parcel shipping and AFS determined they could achieve significant savings by negotiating better rates and adding regional carriers to the mix.

“AFS got the rates to where they should be and brought in other carriers,” said Rowlette. “Now, our customers don’t have shipping delays and they get products faster with better service.”

AFS suggested adding more flexible regional carriers to the mix so Mann Lake wasn’t solely reliant on larger carriers. Sometimes, regional carriers offer shorter transit times, better service and lower cost. In addition, AFS implemented transportation management software (TMS) to automate Mann Lake’s manual freight shipment processing. The TMS provided Mann Lake with analytics for transparency in their spend, transportation mode shifting and rate optimization to further reduce costs. Through the TMS, Mann Lake also gets monthly reports on every shipment, what could have been done differently, where savings can be achieved and an audit summary to show savings.

“Outside of freight savings, the next biggest benefits of working with AFS are automation and time savings,” said Rowlette.

"AFS has become part of the Mann Lake team. My staff can go directly to them, they optimize our processes and take work off our plate so we can focus on our core business."

Shana Rowlette

CFO - Mann Lake Ltd.

As the relationship progressed, AFS recommended additional services to improve shipping at Mann Lake and uncovered opportunities for cost savings in other segments of their logistical operations. Today, Mann Lake relies on AFS for less-than-truckload (LTL), parcel, audit, truckload and international cost management services.

A dedicated AFS manager works with each of the locations to ensure they are using the right carriers, file claims correctly and pickups are made. The reduced shipping costs also help the company better serve its customers, many who live in residential and rural areas.


On the parcel side, Mann Lake has saved approximately $500,000 a year in shipping costs by leveraging the AFS audit process, service knowledge and executive team for guidance. In 2020, the company was on track to realize more than $92,000 in LTL savings by adding more carriers and negotiating client-specific pricing. AFS also determined another $76,000 in cost savings could be achieved by implementing least cost carriers.

Going forward, AFS and Mann Lake are working to streamline processes and reduce costs for full truckload (FTL) and international shipments. Mann Lake typically engages AFS in its future plans so they can be on the forefront of how business decisions will impact shipping costs. With two more acquisitions planned for the near future, Mann Lake is happy to have AFS as a partner to handle all its logistics.

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