Service expansion a key driver for Pitt Ohio rebranding
January 28, 2011 - LM Editorial
Taking steps to let shippers know about its full range of freight transportation service offerings, regional less-than-truckload carrier Pitt Ohio Express has officially re-branded and will be known as Pitt Ohio going forward.
Company officials said this move was made in large part to accentuate the fact that Pitt Ohio is more than just a provider of regional LTL services, explaining that the company has introduced various non-LTL services in recent years, including truckload, supply chain, and ground/small package, which have enabled the company to “stay relevant in a fast moving market.”
“We adopted a strategy six years ago, and we listened to our customers,” said Geoff Muessig, Pitt Ohio executive vice president and chief marketing officer, in an interview. “While they really valued our LTL service, their supply chains were becoming more complex, and they were looking to us to provide more of a full-service solution.”
As part of that decision to expand into more of a full-service entity, Pitt Ohio acquired ECM Transport, a truckload carrier, in 2005, which President Chuck Hammel said was part of an initiative for the company to become more of a transportation services provider as opposed to simply an LTL company.
Hammel explained that as shippers’ supply chains were becoming more complex, shippers were looking more for additional services and solutions, along with the ability to move shipments from point A to point B.
“Truckload was our first target to me more valuable to our customers, and then we moved to supply chain and small package and a few other areas, too,” said Hammel.
Pitt Ohio handles more than 200 loads per day, with 255 tractors and a trailer pool around 1,200 on the truckload side. For LTL operations, it has 665 tractors and about 1,740 trailers. The company also has 500 straight trucks.
As Pitt Ohio began taking steps to enter into new markets in recent years, Muessig explained that customers valued the high-performance regional LTL service it offered, and in some instances they heard from customers that they were looking for their core providers to be able to do more than just LTL, with some looking for pool distribution services and other looking for dedicated-driver delivery services, among others.
“They knew that supply chain was much more than just picking up pallets and moving them from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia,” said Muessig.
And Hammel explained that when Pitt Ohio was initially planning to roll out its small package service, the company met with 150-to-175 customers, and more than 100, he said, immediately expressed interest, because with larger companies in that space they felt their options were limited. He added he was surprised at the initial positive feedback from shippers wanting to hear about the service, which went through a customer pilot period during the fourth quarter of 2009 and was formally launched in January 2010.
Hammel and Muessig said that Pitt Ohio has been building out these various services over the last six years, and once they were established and competing, they decided to go forward with the re-positioning of the Pitt Ohio brand.
Keeping the brand front and center to customers during the repositioning period—along with emphasizing LTL and concurrently highlighting its other services to customers—is front and center, according to the executives.
“LTL does remain our strength and our core and what brought us to the party,” said Hammel. “We want to make sure we are not de-emphasizing that at all and that we are bringing along other services, where we can offer the same quality and commitment. That is the biggest challenge out there for us.”
Along with raising customer awareness of its service offerings, Muessig said the next steps for Pitt Ohio are to continue to grow their businesses, which Pitt Ohio is currently doing with existing customers. And while the $350 million company is growing, Muessig said that Pitt Ohio is still able to work one-on-one with customers to develop specific customer-centric solutions, which fits shippers needs.
And with regulatory hurdles like HOS revisions and CSA and a possible driver shortage kicking in, Hammel explained it will be important for customers to be able to count on Pitt Ohio to provide other services for them as other carriers could be impacted by these things.
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