Keep on trucking
In 2000, Online Transport (Online) was founded in Greenfield, Indiana. The initial structure consisted merely of four employees and a single truck, responsible for catering to a lone customer. Fast forward two decades and the enterprise now boasts a team of 600, utilizing a fleet of 550 trucks, to keep hundreds of clients happy. Despite its expansion, including 300 percent growth since 2019, Kalvin Cook, Senior Vice President, assures Transport and Logistics International that the company’s core values have always remained the same. “Honor your commitments always has and always will be the foundation of our culture. 2022 is on course to set a new benchmark in revenue for our company. Alongside the tremendous organic growth that we have seen within our customer base, we’ve also closed on three acquisitions over the last 12 months.
“We offer a full range of bulk liquid, flatbed, temperature-controlled and dry van transportation solutions,” he continues. “These span across just-in-time and over-the-road truckloads. Logistically, we provide yard management, carrier management, crossdocking and warehousing and distribution services too, all of which are complemented by our brokerage division’s creative capacity solutions. The factors that set us apart from our competitors include the breadth of services that Online provides, the transparency that we employ in operations, our high degree of technological implementation and our high touch-point customer service. This has all been recognized recently, by our receipt of the Production Parts Over the Road, Carrier of the Year 2022 award at an annual Toyota supplier business meeting, and can be measured by our constant expansion. In fact, we have grown from eight terminals to 12 in the last three years.”
Indeed, capital reinvestment is a key part of Online’s strategy. Besides the extension of its physical footprint, when it comes to technology, the company focuses on furthering transparency for its customers and ensuring the safety of its employees. Greater visibility of cargo, when it’s in transit, provides service users with peace of mind and more in-depth information, whereas its high levels of staff safety demonstrate the company’s ethical approach to business. Online is also bolstering its green initiatives through its product development, as Kalvin details further: “We are nearly a year into testing the Volvo electric tractor with great success. We have invested in the modernization of our terminal in Dublin, Virginia, to provide the requisite power for charging Electric Vehicles (EVs). We were one of the first fleets, outside of the states of New York and California, to have access to running EVs, which has given us tremendous insight into the differing operational costs in comparison to diesel. Unfortunately, the economics for widespread adoption are not quite available to us yet, however we are focusing on implementing them in the most sensical positions that we have.”
The business’ range of technology employs GPS communication and satellite tracking, an electronic data interchange and interactive web portal, with real-time reporting, a document imaging and retrieval system and data storage redundancy capabilities. All of the above are in place to offer clients the utmost visibility over their supply chain, with the dispatch team constantly monitoring each load from pick up through to delivery. This way, if there is any form of issue, whether it’s traffic, weather or equipment related, the customer will hear it first from Online. This expert offering, with regard to customer service, is partially why the business has continued to go from strength-to-strength for so long.
Lightning in a bottle
Internal changes are often common within companies that are experiencing a period of growth. However, Kalvin’s claims regarding the continuation of Online’s core values are supported by its track record of long-standing employees. As he explains: “My father achieved year on year growth of the business during its first few years of operations, with the same, close-knit team of employees. Many of those team members are still working for Online today, over 20 years later. This is one of the reasons that we have vowed to remain independent; because, with the strength of our working culture, we’ve caught lightning in a bottle. We encourage a policy of absolute, open communication, which not only keeps everyone honest, it also brings everyone closer together. All of our drivers know that my door is always open, and I’m always ready and willing to answer questions or discuss challenges. We practice a similar approach with our suppliers, especially in these difficult times for inventory-level management. They are more than suppliers, we view them as partners and treat them as such. The way we see it, we need them to be communicating with us as much, if not more, than we are communicating with them.”
Despite the visible challenges of record diesel prices, limitations on new equipment and the increases in interest rates, Kalvin is confident in the future of Online. The business is well-positioned, strategically, to continue with its momentum in acquisitions, reinvesting capital into new technologies and refreshing its fleet of vehicles. Going forwards, the business’ key goal is to double in size, and to become one of the largest asset-based companies in Indiana. As Kalvin concludes: “It has been difficult to increase our teams at the rate that we would like to, so for the time being, everyone has been working incredibly hard to keep up with the increase in output – we’re enormously grateful. We see the value, not only in the scale of financial stability, but also in terms of the career opportunities we can provide for our employees. Both are at the top of our agenda, whilst focusing on a complete service offering to our loyal customer-base.”