In the age of niche markets, it behooves niche-oriented providers to think outside the box of their own niche to really serve their customers. Yellowbird Trucking, a company that specializes in hauling international cargo, based in New Bedford, Mass., doesn't just try to provide quicker delivery times and lower prices than its competitors--it also involves other specialists who work with international freight, such as custom-house brokers and freight forwarders.

Assembling a brain trust can result in transforming the entire transportation logistics plan for a company, saving customers much more time and money than Yellowbird could provide on its own. In the process, customers become deeply bonded to Yellowbird for the long haul.

For example, Ed Fitzsimmons, president of Yellowbird, teamed up with another specialist, a railhead company. By tinkering with a customer's current inland route and storing its container differently, the two companies saved the customer 50% on inland freight costs, shaved 10% to 15% off annual international transportation costs, and shortened delivery times. "If I hadn't linked up with this other specialist," says Fitzsimmons, "it would have been impossible to create such dramatic time and money savings for the customer."