Careers In Logistics: Q&A with First Call’s Tarek Kabbani

Jun 15, 2023

In our latest team Q&A, we sat down with FCL Supply Chain Consultant Tarek Kabbani for details on today’s produce shipping challenges, major factors influencing shipping rates and what it takes to successfully navigate the upcoming peak season. Get to know Tarek and the rest of the FCL team by catching our recent Q&A series below!

So Tarek, how did you find your way to the logistics industry?

I studied Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management in college. I chose this course of study because of job security — there will always be jobs in the supply chain so long as civilization exists as we know it.

How long have you worked in logistics, and what is your favorite role you’ve worked in so far?

I entered the industry as an intern at JEAR Logistics in 2013. They offered me a job while I was still in school, and I really enjoyed the fast-paced sales cycle so I accepted a role as a broker and worked my way to logistics team leader. I spent nearly four years with the company and had a lot of success!

I really enjoy the sales and sales team roles. Closing a sale and helping young brokers do the same is the most fulfilling aspect of this job. It’s fun to take time to learn about someone else’s business and identify where our company is a good fit within their operations.

Have you found yourself specializing in any particular career “niche”?

Yes! I tend to focus on produce and perishable foods, I enjoy the added challenge.

What are some specific challenges you’ve assisted customers/carriers with?

Good question! I frequently assist customers with lanes they have difficulty covering on a contract basis by developing a rotation of regulars to service the lane. Where one carrier may not be able to handle the volume, a pool of carriers managed by a broker can.

We once had a critical load going to retail and a driver with another carrier could not continue due to illness. We were able to provide a cross dock and a team to recover the load and deliver on time.

Other highlights include setting up drop trailers and power-only runs to prevent shutdowns of a customer’s manufacturing operation, and getting emergency teams through a blizzard hitting the Northeast back in 2016. These 20 teams drove straight through the night from Springfield, Ohio to MD, PA, NJ and NY carrying salad vegetables to retailers during a nasty storm — updates were required from every team every two hours that night!

Have you noticed any key changes to the supply chain industry in recent years? What changes do you expect to see in the future?

With today’s rates being so low it has to be hard for newer or smaller carriers to earn a profit. I suspect some may not be able to stay in business for very long. If history is any indication, rates will eventually surge and then this whole process will repeat.

I’ve noticed many shippers and produce brokers opening transportation departments and truck brokerages to manage their own freight and control transportation pricing, but without the experience of a full-time supply chain expert as they’d find with a 3PL.

What’s one thing you wish people better understood about supply chain management?

There is no perfect solution. We’re all just trying to continuously improve an extremely complex process to ultimately meet consumer demands and keep people happy.

What obstacles do you see in the produce industry that you might not see in the supply chain for other shippers?

Temperature-controlled products require extra care. You have to be certain items are not loaded hot off the field, are properly packed and cooled for transportation and meet food quality standards.

Produce also requires patience, both with shippers and receivers. Properly preparing a product for transit takes time and careful oversight. It requires trust — I like to know my drivers, not just the carriers supplying the drivers. I don’t just throw a load of berries on any truck in our system. It is important to ask questions so carriers and drivers can demonstrate the competency required to properly care for a produce load.

How do you manage capacity during holidays and peak seasons?

Communication, working through trusted carriers, GPS tracking, progress monitoring — if someone is pacing 30 miles an hour, catch it quick and find out why. Never be afraid to deliver a customer or receiver bad news. Always have an action plan and create solutions for all problems.


If you approach a situation with a solution and with kindness, generally someone on the other end of the line will be willing to help or at least give you honest advice. This simple thing can help trucks late to a shipper due to unprecedented delays actually get loaded the day they are supposed to, or empty an hour after their appointment at Walmart.

What do you consider the most important skill or characteristic to be successful in a role like yours?

Maintaining a sense of urgency, honesty and transparency. Being proactive and not reactive. Living in the solution, not the problems. Being unafraid to deliver bad news without hesitation and confident with a plan of action to resolve the issue.

When you aren’t working, what passions or hobbies do you spend time on?

I box, play a lot of pickup basketball, like to take my dog to enjoy new things and spend as much time outside as possible. Love to treat myself to a nice meal, almost too often.

What do you value most about your career? Why should someone work at First Call?

I’ve had a lot of success as a broker with a focus on produce because I think about my freight all the time, and I can identify quickly which loads need extra attention. I’ve learned to minimize the frequency of those loads by taking careful steps before loading, but no matter what they will exist.

First Call has surrounded me with support to achieve a real work-life balance. I have a strong team to support me in the sales process, drivers on the road during and after normal business hours and coworkers I trust to deliver excellent service with every load. While I do still watch everything closely, the stress is significantly less than at my previous company.

Join The First Call Crew

Want to build a career somewhere you can make a real impact? Consider joining the team at First Call Logistics. As a fast-growing 3PL, we’re expanding our footprint and hiring for multiple roles.

To learn more about our open opportunities, visit our careers page and apply today!

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