A multitasker who loves a challenge

Sometimes, the job just needs someone who loves a challenge.

Nathan Johnson, Basin Electric senior fleet and logistics administrator, manages all parts and equipment being delivered to Basin Electric facilities by air, ocean, and ultimately, truck. Johnson has done this work since 2014, but both the COVID-19 pandemic and now supply chain and shortage issues have given him new challenges.

He says managing an order from when the purchase is made to when it’s delivered, is his job, as is holding a vendor to what they said they could deliver.

“My goal is always to minimize the landed cost of a shipment, meaning what it cost to get a part or equipment to our facility,” Johnson says. “Ninety-five percent of what I see is shipping for repairs and new equipment, all on the purchasing side. And 95% of that is shipments inbound to our facilities.”

Worker shortages mean some trucking companies are declining to accept jobs moving freight into states like North Dakota and Wyoming, because there isn’t backhaul or another shipment out of the state. Johnson says he works with vendors, member cooperatives, and other utilities to find opportunities to share shipments or information, to help share trucks and also the associated cost.

Nathan Johnson
Nathan Johnson, Basin Electric senior fleet and logistics administrator.

“We might have a part that we need quickly, and it’s on a 4 foot by 4 foot pallet and weighs 7,000 pounds, and a trucking company might laugh, but if I can expedite other purchase orders to get them on the same truck, or even work with others who need things shipped to the same area, we can make it happen at less cost,” Johnson says. “We just had a case where we had five purchase orders that would have gone on five separate trucks, but were able to work to get them all on the same truck.”

Johnson says in a case like that, it’s a savings of $26,000, which doesn’t seem substantial until you put it in perspective. “That can be a good part of someone’s salary, and when I run across a case like that I find a way to take advantage of it,” he says.

He also works on writing contracts, but when a logistics issue pops up, Johnson will make that priority because time spent working on a shipment can mean cost savings.

In 2021, Johnson says Basin Electric saved $650,000 through managing freight.