What’s new with the regional parcel carriers in 2015? It’s safe to say, a tremendous amount of growth and change! The Greek philosopher Heraclitus’ famous quote – The only thing that is constant is change– is an apropos description for the current state of the regional parcel industry.
In recent months, many of the regional providers have experienced double-digit volume growth, network expansion, industry consolidation, and key strategic alliances. Notable announcements:
Headquartered in Vienna, VA, LaserShip expanded its East Coast service area for B2C ground deliveries by implementing operations in NH, RI, WV, DE, NC and FL. It also opened new sortation centers in Orlando and Charlotte, and relocated its largest sort center from Bristol, PA to one twice the size in Paulsboro, NJ, to better manage volume and offer greater 1-2 day delivery along the East Coast. LaserShip also acquired Prestige Delivery Systems Inc. as part of its continued strategy of aggressive network expansion. The deal allows LaserShip to expand to the Midwest and enhance coverage with additional operations in KY, IN, MI, OH, PA, NY, WV and VA.
In January 2015, southwest regional provider GSO (CA, NV, AZ) entered into a strategic alliance with Norco/Overnite Express. In the arrangement, GSO assumes responsibility for all overnight package deliveries, while Norco focuses on Same Day “Last Mile” Messenger and Courier services. Shippers also benefit by gaining increased access to more than 1,200 drop boxes throughout CA, NV and AZ and GSO’s larger service footprint.
In February 2015, LSO acquired Express Courier International, a same-day carrier in the southwest and mid-south region, to form what it describes as a super-regional parcel carrier, spanning across 13 states throughout the Southeast and Southwest. “Our combined strength will allow us to provide our customers with unique service offerings, customized solutions, same-day, as well as regional overnight services, enhanced footprint and expanded product variety,” said Chuck Moyer, CEO of Express Courier International.
With the growth in e-commerce, we are also seeing a renewed investment interest in the regional parcel carriers. GSO was recapitalized by Hallifax Partners last year, and Eagle Merchant Partners acquired LSO. Further industry consolidation and additional strategic alliance announcements are expected in the years ahead.
What’s fueling the spree of acquisitions and partnerships? Two key factors are the continued growth of residential package delivery through e commerce, as well as the need to expand delivery footprints and product portfolios.
According to Rick Jones, LSO’s President and CEO, many courier companies specializing in last mile services have the majority of revenues tied to a relatively small number of customers. These couriers are realizing the need to broaden their revenue base and product offerings – something the regionals can provide – and at the same time, the regionals benefit by boosting product offerings and density.
Chuck Hammel IV, PITT OHIO’s Director of Ground & Supply Chain sees industry consolidation as an exciting way for regional carriers to strengthen their networks and collectively further compete with FedEx and UPS. “It’s not just the eye test anymore, the data indicates that customers want an alternative solution to giving their business to the two industry giants and we are tasked with helping them to realize the value in making the change,” Hammel recently said in an email exchange.
Said Kristen Castaldo, United Delivery Service’s VP of Business Development, “Industry consolidation (or partnerships) is hugely beneficial for shippers and carriers. UDS has partnerships with Pitt Ohio and Eastern Connection, as well as close relationships with OnTrac and LaserShip. There are so many shippers looking for a better, more cost effective solution for their business and if we can add value to our partners by recommending regional carriers in other parts of the country, it’s a win/win all around.”
The marketplace is responding. Shipware recently sent an emailed interview to the major regional providers, and nearly every single one reported double-digit growth in 2014 with expectations for the same in 2015.
LSO’s Jones thinks it’s a factor of the market’s greater overall awareness of regionals, and shippers’ willingness to move off the status quo and into a multi-carrier solution. “Awareness of regional carriers now has now increased and with it we are seeing an accelerated adoption of regional carriers as part of shipper’s logistics planning,” he said.
However, regional carriers continue to make up a relatively small part of the overall parcel market. Shipware estimates that the annual revenues of the largest regional providers – OnTrac, LaserShip/Prestige, Eastern Connection, UDS, LSO/Express Courier, GSO, SpeeDee and US Cargo/PITT OHIO – is approximately $1.2 billion combined, compared with combined global package revenues of $87.6 billion for the Big Two ($38.7B, FedEx, and $48.9B UPS).
Shipware’s Live and Interactive Parcel Pricing (PARCEL Forum, 2014) presentation revealed that only 8% of shippers use regional carriers “extensively”, and 26% reported “some, but not significant” usage. That leaves 66% of volume parcel shippers that don’t use regional carriers at all. And those shippers that do leverage regional carriers reported less than 15% of volumes are routed via regionals.
However, the shippers using regional carriers reported multiple benefits including cost savings up to 35%, fewer surcharges, a larger 1-2 day delivery footprint, and improved dimensional and minimum package charges. Moreover, 44% of regional carrier shippers expect to increase usage by as much as 25% this year.
In conclusion, the regional parcel delivery industry continues to evolve. Shippers that want greater flexibility, improved transit times and lower-cost alternatives to FedEx and UPS are wise to evaluate today’s regional delivery providers. A list of regional parcel carriers has been provided (Table 1) to help you get started. Good luck!