Atlantic Bulk Carrier prides itself on providing quality, personalized service at a fair price and believes those attributes have contributed to its success. “Our goal is to maintain what got us here,” founder Gary Short says.
Short founded the Providence Forge, Va.-based company in 1971, just six years after he began his career in the tanker truck industry working for Ryder Tank Lines and later Chemical Leaman. “We started as most people do with one truck and just progressed to where we are today,” Short says.
Today, Atlantic Bulk Carrier is the largest bulk hauler in Virginia operating in eight states in the Southeast. “We stuck to our guns and decided years ago that we wanted to stay in the Southeast believing there was enough business in six to eight states to keep us busy for a long time,” Short explains.
The company specializes in hauling cement, feed supplements, plastic pellets, liquid industrial chemicals, hazardous materials, lime, clay, resins, liquid resins and hot liquid resins up to 400 degrees.
Atlantic Bulk Carrier has an average of 10 to 15 customers that it has built on a referral-basis, including national and international companies. “Our operational form has always been to provide good service at a reasonable price,” Short says. “We have found we can form niches where some of the biggest carriers can’t offer the quality of service that we offer.”
The company has remained agile
when it comes to its customers’ needs. Because Atlantic Bulk Carrier is privately owned, it does not have to gain approval from a board of directors before making a move and can provide answers and solutions much faster, Vice President J. Ward Best says. “It’s our business philosophy to work with our customers and to align our tanks and equipment to meet their needs,” he adds. “We try to be a partner with our customers and that’s been a real benefit.”
Short credits the long-term employees and the executive management team for building customer relationships and expanding the business. The management team includes Short, his son and president Mark W. Short, Best and Vice President of Operations Warren P. Groseclose. “Our management team works under the same philosophy,” he says. “Helping our customers solve their needs benefits us in the long run and helps grow our business.”
The biggest change in the industry is the shortage of qualified drivers. Atlantic Bulk Carrier is, “Looking everywhere and doing everything we know what to do” to find drivers. The state has a new program called “Troops to Trucks” that assists military personnel in transitioning their experience with trucks in the service into attaining a commercial driver’s license.
“That’s a new program we are advocates for,” Best notes. “Because there are so many military bases and personnel in Virginia, it’s a great program. We are wholly supportive and want to encourage and move them along.”
Staying the Best
Atlantic Bulk Carrier made a strategic move last year when it opened a new 14,000-square-foot maintenance facility to perform more in-house maintenance. “That was a big, big move for us,” Short says. “Maintenance is a big part of our safety program and we just recently purchased property in Dalton, Ga., where we plan to open another facility.”
Looking into the future, Short says he doesn’t believe that being the biggest is always the best. He wants to focus on controlled growth and if a company doesn’t fit in with Atlantic Bulk Carrier’s business philosophy, he has no problem turning down that business.
“As long as I’m here and after I’m gone, that philosophy will be the same – give good service, operate the company on a personal level and know the people you work with and provide it all at a reasonable price,” Short says.