For over a decade, Ally Logistics has been redefining expectations for customers, carriers, and employees in the freight industry.
With a keen focus on the intersection between cutting-edge technology, commerce, and the people that drive it, Ally Logistics continues to innovate and improve the way freight moves.
At the heart of this monumental effort lies a remarkable team with a unique growth mindset.
We met with Mickey DeJong, Head of Culture and Special Projects to learn more about this remarkable team, its culture, and its commitment to the small improvements that lead to big wins.
“Our perspective is sustainable growth,” DeJong began, “treating people like people, not just a job to be filled. Staff voices are a crucial part of our growth process, and we’re always seeking feedback.”
Redefining HUSTLE Culture
For many of us, “hustle culture” might bring up negative connotations of long nights, early mornings, and over-caffeinated weekends spent in the office at the expense of friendships, family, and individual pursuits.
For the Ally team, hustle culture represents something else entirely. Their unique interpretation breaks HUSTLE down to six core values that drive their work.
- Honesty Above All
- Urgency Over Complacency
- See The Problem Before It Happens
- Team Before Self
- Lead By Example
- Earn It Today
This emphasis on building a sustainable, people-focused culture resulted in rapid growth and an award-winning employee experience. Ally Logistics was recently featured on the Inc 5000, Crain’s “Cool Places to Work”, “West Michigan’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work for”, and the Detroit Free Press’ “Best Places to Work.”
Asked what motivates her growth and makes Ally Logistics a great place to work, DeJong was quick to answer:
“I love the innovative spirit here. We never settle—everything is always changing, but in the most beneficial, productive, and efficient ways. That’s exemplified in our new mission statement: ‘moving freight, better.’ To us, better is a pursuit. No matter where we are, we can always be improving and advancing.
From my position, you can see it firsthand—our leadership really embraces change. That’s a bit unique in the logistics industry, where many organizations are set in their ways.”
I love the innovative spirit here.
Delivering a Positive Impact
Most organizations make some kind of impact, but Ally Logistics keeps a clear focus on making that impact constructive. Through numerous initiatives that positively influence industry expectations, the employee experience, and the environment, the team continually strives to make its impact net-positive.
“We know the transportation industry has a large impact on the environment. And while we might not be able to transform that aspect of the logistics industry singlehandedly overnight, we can follow our guiding principles, and do our part to make it better every day.”
Following their own core value of leading by example, the team contributes to a more sustainable, resilient, and responsible logistics industry every day.
“Industry standards are set by individual organizations, often through collective thought or practice,” said DeJong. “By implementing and normalizing healthy policies; by leading initiatives that support our people and the environment, we try to lead by example and help set that standard.”
That influence begins at the individual level. Each member of a team has the potential to impact their organization, which in turn, can have a meaningful effect on an entire industry. Cultivating that individual drive toward positive change is a core element of the innovative spirit that sets Ally Logistics apart from its peers.
“Our people are the starting point to delivering Better in the long term to all realms we impact.” DeJong explained. “We recognize that to make a large impact long-term, we also need to empower and embolden our individuals here to make an impact themselves.”
Our people are the starting point to delivering Better in the long term to all realms we impact.
Thriving in the Intersection of People and Technology
In an industry that has existed for millennia, Ally Logistics is an outlier. With service as its guiding principle, Ally Logistics leverages technology to provide clients and carriers with a better, more efficient brokerage experience. That same technology-assisted approach extends to the digital employee experience, empowering staff to perform at their healthiest maximum capacity. Those advantages allow the Ally Logistics team to continually improve the level of service they provide every day.
As DeJong shared, that perspective is reflected in the team’s internal tooling decisions:
“Our vision is to find the optimal intersection between people and technology, and it helps lead to our innovative spirit. But that intersection will always be a moving target, and it’s a throughline we have in mind as we make larger decisions about the tools we use.
We have proprietary tech that we’ve developed, but we also partner with companies like Haystack to assist our people. We’re always working to streamline processes so our people can focus on building relationships and providing better service to both customers and carriers.”
Establishing a Centralized Hub
The logistics industry is complicated and fast-moving. There’s a vast foundation of knowledge for employees to learn right from the start, and an equally large amount of information to stay updated on regularly. To keep everything accurate, accessible, and up-to-date, the Ally Logistics team turned to Haystack as an avenue for a primary source of truth.
“Our greatest purpose for adopting Haystack was centralization,” DeJong said. “Our forms, our training, how we communicated announcements, promotions—all of that was spread across different platforms. Having a place where people can go to find information, categorize it, share it, or even privatize it allows our communication to be a lot more purpose-driven.
The impact has been huge. We have a saying now, ‘When in doubt, check Haystack.’”
While fast, reliable, accessible internal communication was always paramount, this need compounded as the Ally Logistics team continued to grow and evolve.
“Haystack came at a really good time with relation to where we were at with our growth,” DeJong explained. “It was hand-in-hand with our needs and pain points.”
As a central hub for internal communication, Haystack made it easy for employees to seek information about common issues. Automated multichannel messaging untangled the sometimes complex processes behind distributing information, making it easy to reach the right audience in the right channel, at the right time.
“A lot of the time we’d be either under-communicating or overdoing it. I was so excited when we adopted Haystack because everything is in one place!”
When in doubt, check Haystack.
Organizing a Crucial Knowledge Base
Bringing company knowledge into a central, trusted location is essential, but if that information isn’t easily accessible, its value to employees is limited. That’s why organization was another key effort for DeJong and the Ally Logistics team.
“Centralizing information is so crucial, but so is keeping it organized. It’s really easy for information to pile up, and if you’ve worked with people long enough, you realize that they’ll usually take the path of least resistance. If it’s too difficult to find something, it’s just human nature to get to a point where you give up and move onto the next thing.”
Whether it’s crucial information about employee benefits, a critical update related to the freight industry, or a new platform orientation, it’s all accessible in Haystack.
“We have an HR group now,” DeJong highlighted. “If someone needs HR-related information, it’s all there for them. It’s quick, and easy.
Being able to curate and categorize information brings a lot of accessibility to our workforce.
As an innovator in such a fast-paced industry, it’s easy for information to pile up, so having an easy, reliable reference is a key capability as we roll out additional systems and processes. It’s not just helpful for onboarding, but for the sake of innovation and growth, it’s been a huge support.”
While it’s critical to be able to categorize information and make it easy to find, DeJong keyed in on the value of helping users categorize information at a glance, no matter what channel it’s coming from.
“I think this might be kind of an underrated feature, but as someone who works in marketing, having a unified aesthetic and user experience across different channels is key. When something comes through Haystack, it’s not just another email or Slack message. People have an instant visual recognition that this is an important internal communication—it’s something they need to know.
I’ve also migrated a lot of our organizational culture efforts to Haystack, so it’s not just a primary source of information, it’s our culture hub as well.
The impact has been huge.
Exploring New Experiences
Haystack’s ability to centralize people, information, and resources in a single platform was the primary value that led the Ally Logistics team to an implementation. As they continued to dive deeper into their use case, Haystack’s broad range of tools and integrations brought an additional set of experiences for DeJong and her team to explore.
“I think different people take to different pieces, and we’re always experimenting with new things,” she said. “It’s been great to see the moments across each department where it really clicks.”
Asked for some of her personal favorite tools and features outside of the core use case, DeJong had a few to share:
“RSVP for events—I always had to outsource that, and Haystack made it so much easier. I can announce an event in-platform, have all the information about it right there, and keep track of all the qualifications I need for different kinds of events.
I also love that we can embed Google Forms into the platform now. I push that a lot with my teams, because it’s so cool.”
For members of the leadership team who had critical information to share with employees, Haystack provided a unique way to confirm those messages reached their audience.
“A big concern for leadership before Haystack was whether or not people were reading or receiving important communications. Now we can see exactly how many people have logged in and seen a message, and resend it to the people who haven’t seen it.
Being able to follow up and keep a pulse on our organization has been really helpful.”
Haystack was the information and communication hub the Ally Logistics team was looking for, but its role as a culture hub where employees could strengthen connections with their colleagues and the organization was reflected in some crowd favorites.
“We have a ‘Meet the Team’ section on our dashboard, where we feature a different member of the team, and some fun facts about them. I added a ‘hot take’ poll to the main dashboard and people loved that.
And the Name Game, of course. We have a healthy competitive spirit on our team. I think the current high score is in the 600s—nobody’s beaten that yet.”
While interactive elements like the Name Game were engaging for the team, they soon proved to be just as functional as they were fun.
“I came back from maternity leave and there were 40 new hires I hadn’t met,” DeJong mused. “You better believe I was on that Name Game tile, matching names to faces.”
It’s been great to see the moments across each department where it really clicks.
Tips for an Engaging Digital Employee Experience
The Ally Logistics team built an extraordinary and engaging digital experience for employees. As a member of that team, we asked DeJong to share a few nuggets of advice they found along the way.
- Stay purposeful and mindful of the user experience. We’re always asking, “what makes the most sense for users? How can we go with the flow of current processes, instead of trying to change them?”
- Make sure that culture is the heart of what you’re doing. People want to go onto a platform that’s interesting and creative, and one that celebrates the work they’re doing. If that’s not reflected in the platform, you might struggle to earn buy-in.
- Humility and a service mentality are crucial.
- Build feedback loops. It can be really easy to get into the mentality of “I think this is the best way to do this,” but it might not be the way users will ultimately adopt.
- Having open lines of communication with Haystack’s team, especially for something so central to our organization, and having that backing is super important.
At Haystack, we’re grateful for the opportunity to work and grow with some of the most innovative organizations in the world. As they grow and evolve, they help shape our platform in the most interesting and exciting ways.