Truck drivers have a lot of time to think of new and imaginative ways to make their lives on the road easier, right? But did you know that the man who invented shipping containers, which in turn shaped the entire history of shipping and transportation, was a truck driver from North Carolina?

In April this year there was a conference sponsored by HubSpot a marketing firm devoted to inbound marketing & sales. Fortunately what really peeked the interest of the attendees was the keynote speech given by Malcolm Gladwell. His topic? The history of Malcolm McLean - The father of containerization & modern shipping!

With just a high school degree and a $120 investment in his used truck, McLean started his career in trucking. After starting his own trucking business it very quickly became the second largest trucking company in America. What was next for McLean and his company was to jump right into the global shipping space.

The one main issue that McLean saw within the supply chain was the excessive amount of time and exorbitant cost of moving items from his trucks to the ships. Often times, the cost of dock service was equal to the cost of actually shipping the material.. Not good at all!

At this time, the first uniform shipping container was designed. OK, so the idea wasn’t ENTIRELY new, but McLean’s form of containerization, without a doubt was the thing that allowed the cost of international shipping to be radically lower, as well as allowing several new ports to be opened up.

McLeans new found glory in containerization was bad news for the main ports of London and New York, but good news for consumers worldwide who would now have access to a variety of low-cost goods. This, of course had an immeasurable impacts on global trade. Can you imagine a world without containerized shipping? We can’t and I am sure if you ask others they can’t either!

McLean indeed faced enormous push-back from unions (which he was essentially putting out of business) as well as what Gladwell deemed as the “framers” of modern shipping. Framers were not open to change.

These “Framers” were quickly renamed as the re-framers,according to Gladwell, these were the new era of “Framers who were the folks essential to revolution. They aren’t affected by push-back. They continue to advance their ideas because they truly believe, no matter how much opposition they receive, that their ideas will change the world for the better.

The keynote speaker, Gladwell’s final point in his speech was that revolution means re-imagining every step of the process.This is the utmost difficult but necessary part of an innovative, creative, open minded entrepreneurial world. In closing he posed a question to the listeners .. what areas of your business need to be re-imagined?