‘Can do’ attitude: Warehousing company Logistics One positioning itself for future growth

Logistics One, the transportation and warehousing company headquartered in the W.J. Grande Industria

Logistics One, the transportation and warehousing company headquartered in the W.J. Grande Industrial Park, had a good business year in 2008 and expects an even stronger one in 2009, recession or not.

“Warehousing tends to do well as the economy slows down,” said William McNeary IV, company founder and president. “Production continues and [the companies] need a place to store the excess.”

With this in mind, Logistics One purchased a 450,000-square-foot warehouse on West Yard Road in the Feura Bush area of the town of Bethlehem last November for $10 million from a California company.

This warehouse, which is served by CSX Rail, allows the company to offer access to all the major railroads serving the Capital Region at its three warehouse locations.

With the huge new warehouse, the company, which was started in 1994 in Scotia with just four employees, has more than 1 million square feet of warehouse space. The company employs 200 full- and part-time workers.

McNeary said the company’s other warehouses are in Mechanicville and in the Grande Industrial Park in Saratoga Springs, where the company has its fleet of 325 trailers and 85 tractor trucks to pull them.

Name change

Last year, Logistics One became the new name of the company that incorporated the former Saratoga Transport, Saratoga Warehouse Associates and Logistics Brokerage into one entity.

Company officials said approximate annual revenue in 2008 was between $25 million and $30 million. Their revenue projection for this year is between $30 million and $35 million. They do not release figures for net income.

“We have a good location and not too much competition,” said William McNeary, III, McNeary IV’s father and company vice president.

Some of their biggest clients are associated with the beer, soda, pasta and paper markets.

“In the recession, beer, soda and toilet paper grow,” McNeary III said.

One of the company’s first major customers was the Ball Metal Container plant, which is also located in the Grande Industrial Park.

William McNeary III is also the trustee for the Grande family trust, which owns the industrial park in Saratoga Springs. The McNeary and Grande families are related by marriage.

James M. Benham, Logistics One’s longtime vice president for sales and operations, said the company does most of the transporting for the Ball plant.

Logistics’ trailers full of cans go to Pepsi, Coke and Anheuser-Busch plants throughout the state.

“We arrive on their [loading] dock and the cans go right into production,” Benham said.

“We have 100 percent on-time deliveries every day,” Benham said. He said the company delivers between 60 and 80 tractor-trailer loads of cans for Ball every day.

The trailers have roller beds in them, speeding the loading and unloading process, Benham said.

McNeary IV said Logistics One focuses on businesses with “special needs, ones that need more attention than other, larger carriers can give them.”

Logistics One serves a regional market that includes all of New York state and New England, Eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland.

“Beyond that we call other carriers and broker freight to them,” McNeary IV said.

Clearly focused

The company’s brokerage team focuses on one thing: “To make sure our clients’ goods are efficiently and cost-effectively transported throughout the United States and Canada,” according to the company Web site, www.logisticsone.com.

One of Logistics One’s warehouses in the Grande Industrial Park, for example, is almost totally filled with pasta from North Dakota.

The pasta, packaged for supermarkets, Olive Garden restaurants, Wal-Mart and others, comes in by railroad.

Benham said Logistics One manages all the pasta inventory for Dakota Growers Pasta Co. and makes sure the spaghetti, ziti and elbow macaroni get to the regional stores and eateries for the Dakota company.

“Right now we have between $10 million and $12 million worth of pasta in the warehouse,” Benham said late last year.

The 40-foot high warehouse where the pasta is stored has special, electric forklift trucks. Gas-powered forklifts are not allowed around food products.

The “swing-reach trucks” take the fork lift and the operator right up to the ceiling of the warehouse so it can bring down a pallet of pasta or beverage cans.

Positioning for future

What is Logistics One’s philosophy during the current economic meltdown?

McNeary IV said when the economy is bad, the companies that survive will be “leaner and prepared to grow.”

“The ones that survive will have greater opportunities,” he said.

“The trucking industry is losing thousands of carriers every quarter,” McNeary IV said. “A lot of big carriers have gone broke.”

He said the large price increases for diesel fuel over the past year have forced many independent truckers off the road as well.

“As the fuel was going up the economy started to slow,” he said about the economic problems facing trucking firms.

One mistake some of the large transportation companies made was anticipating changes required by the Environmental Protection Agency in truck engines starting in 2010.

“The larger carriers bought [tractor trucks] early to avoid the more expensive trucks but they overbought,” he said. “There are a lot of tractor [trucks] parked around the country now,” McNeary IV said.

“We try to stay on dedicated work,” he said, referring to companies with products going out and coming back.

A Logistics One tractor-trailer will take a load of cans to the Anheuser-Busch plant near Syracuse and come back with another load of something else on a one-day trip, generating revenue both ways.

“That’s the sweet spot, going out and back on the same day,” McNeary IV said.

The company is also expanding its business with Anheuser-Busch this year, carrying loads of Ball cans to the new Budweiser plant near Williamsburg, Va.

“That’s a growth spot for us,” McNeary IV said.

The company has about half of its warehouse space left at the Feura Bush warehouse to fill.

“It’s in good shape, a nice building,” McNeary IV said.

Niche growth

The company is also launching a new division dedicated to “build-to-suit warehousing,” McNeary said. Ken Green, former president of the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation, is in charge of project development for this division.

“Simply tell us what you need and we will make it happen,” the company Web site says about the new division.

“We are ready to create the ideal solution for clients who require their own facility,” the statement says.

McNeary said there are about 130 acres of property in the Grande Industrial Park suitable for new warehouse buildings. The company also has 10 acres of open land near the warehouse it purchased last year in Bethlehem.

“With industrial property available for new construction, we can structure a build-to-suit lease-back for your operation or we can build and operate a stand-alone facility for you,” according to the Logistics One Web page.

Benham said activity at the Logistics One headquarters in Saratoga Springs “is pretty constant.”

“There are always issues and problems on a daily basis,” Benham said. “We only close down if our customers close down.”

The McNearys say Logistics One is a 24-7 operation, meaning it’s on the go 24-hours a day, seven days a week. On Christmas Eve, the company shuts things down for a few hours.

The 14-person truck dispatch center keeps track of every tractor-trailer with a satellite tracking system called Qualcomm.

Every 15 minutes the truck gets “pinged” by the system and its location is fed into the computer system.

“It shows if they are running late,” McNeary IV said.

All drivers are equipped with Nextel push-to-talk phone systems, as well.

“We have good people working for us,” McNeary IV said. “That helps us grow.”

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