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CCJ Innovator: Old Dominion Freight Line

LTL company develops award-winning loss prevention and environmental strategies.

LTL company develops award-winning loss prevention and environmental strategies.

Even a 79-year-old company that already has earned its share of accolades for numerous innovations over the years might have a little room left in its trophy case for a few more awards.

In 1934, Earl and Lillian Congdon pooled their life savings to start Old Dominion with a single truck hauling eggs between Richmond and Norfolk, Va. Their son, Earl Congdon, became chief executive officer in 1963 and helped transform the small regional company serving the Southeast into a publicly traded global company with more than 14,000 employees, 220 domestic service centers and global operations delivering goods to more than 48,000 locations, posting $2 billion in annual revenue.

Old Dominion (CCJ Top 250, No. 12) provides regional, interregional and national less-than-truckload service, as well as a broad range of logistics services, including ground and air expedited transportation, supply chain consulting, transportation management, truckload brokerage, container delivery and warehousing. Through strategic partnerships, the company also offers international freight forwarding services throughout the world, and it also offers domestic household moving through its OD Household Services branch.

In the last decade, Old Dominion has grown both organically via the opening of service centers nationwide and through acquisitions, including the Western region purchases of Salt Lake City-based UW Freight Line; Sumner, Wash.-based Priority Freight Lines; Denver-based Bullocks Express Transportation; and Sidney, Mont.-based Bob’s Pickup & Delivery.

Earl Congdon Jr. stepped down as CEO in 2008 and now serves as executive chairman of the board; his son, David Congdon, is the current president and CEO.

“Our company has prospered and has grown into the nation’s premier LTL transportation provider,” says Congdon. “Our growth was certainly not easy, and it would have not been possible without the dedication and hard work of the entire Old Dominion family throughout the years.”

Rewarding recognitions

In 2013, the Thomasville, N.C.-based company has been recognized with numerous awards for company leadership in the industry: Forbes Magazine named Old Dominion as one of America’s 100 Most Trustworthy Companies; NASSTRAC honored the company as 2013 Carrier of the Year; Mastio & Co. ranked Old Dominion as No. 1 National LTL carrier for the third consecutive year; and CIO magazine recognized Old Dominion for IT Excellence with the CIO 100 Award for the fifth consecutive year.

Most recently, the company was recognized with a pair of prestigious industry awards for its commitment to security and loss prevention. The American Trucking Associations’ Supply Chain Security & Loss Prevention Council bestowed Old Dominion with both the ATA Excellence in Security Award and the Excellence in Claims & Loss Prevention award, the only industrywide recognitions of their kind. The ATA Excellence in Security Award honors the carrier that best demonstrates its ability to evaluate risks, implement plans, train employees and manage systems and processes to minimize theft and secure its supply chain. The Excellence in Claims & Loss Prevention award is given to the company that sets the bar for claims management, loss prevention and damage control.

“At Old Dominion, we work tirelessly to ensure that all our customers’ shipments are delivered on time and in the same condition we originally received them in,” says Greg Gantt, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “To secure one of the best claims ratios in the industry, we have implemented stringent security measures for all our facilities and industry-leading claims management and loss prevention procedures.”

Old Dominion recently implemented a digital claims management process to replace a traditional paper system for filing and tracking. This, along with many other items, help the company consistently secure one of the industry’s lowest claims ratios, currently at 0.32 percent year-to-date.

More than 99 percent of claims are handled either during the initial customer call or are processed automatically from that first call. Since the claims system can be linked to the company’s business intelligence and data warehouse platform, Old Dominion employees easily can review a customer’s history and remedyanypotentialproblemsbefore they arise.

Users of Old Dominion’s secure odfl4me.com website also can customize their reports and receive them via e-mail. Odfl4me.com allows customers to manage their accounts and control transactions, including scheduling pickups and tracking shipments in real time.

Users can create a personalized report by selecting from a number of fields, including shipper information, bill of lading, purchase order numbers, delivery information and the delivery’s current status. Users also can receive a digital version of the report, selecting the frequency – daily, weekly, monthly or one time – and format (spreadsheet or html) for how they want to receive the information. The report is sent to the odfl4me.com user’s e-mail address and is generated by the chosen frequency until the user removes it from the system.

Old Dominion’s motto is “Helping the world keep promises,” a guarantee that isn’t taken lightly by any employee, says Gantt, a 19-year company veteran who had served as senior vice president of operations since 2002 before being promoted to his current post two years ago.

“Customers rightly have a high expectation when they opt for a premium service such as Old Dominion,” he says.“We treat every shipment with the upmost respect because, from our perspective, delivering shipments on time and damage-free is not optional – it’s a promise we make and keep.”

Going green big time

Old Dominion’s commitment to doing the right thing isn’t limited to customer service. The company also is committed to corporate sustainability in an effort to reduce the carbon footprints of itself and its stakeholders.

Old Dominion has implemented a number of sustainability initiatives in its facilities over the past few years. In 2012, the company opened its first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified service center, located in Canton, Ohio.

The company also has installed energy-efficient bulbs in 80 percent of its lighting systems at company service centers nationwide, and also continuously researches the latest technologies to further reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency for its fleet of more than 5,800 tractors.

Perhaps Old Dominion’s most impressive green initiative was the installation of a solar panel photovoltaic system at its Vault Logistics warehouse located four miles from its corporate headquarters in Thomasville. The company contracted with SunEnergy1 to build the 1.8-megawatt system, the third-largest of its kind in North Carolina.

The system of 7,660 individual solar panels completely covers the warehouse’s 160,000-square-foot roof. The system, which has been operating since December 2011, can produce more than 2.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year − enough to offset more than 90 percent of the building’s annual energy costs, or power 200 houses annually.

“Old Dominion has made a promise to customers, shareholders and employees alike to enhance our corporate sustainability efforts,” Congdon says. “As we continue our rapid global expansion, it is increasingly important for us to be mindful of our company’s impact on the environment. We’re always exploring ways to reduce our carbon footprint because our commitment to sustainability is another promise we will keep.”

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Jeff Crissey is the Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. In his role, Crissey is responsible for maintaining the excellent print editorial product, improving online audience development and increasing CCJ readers' knowledge of business and safety-related industry issues. Crissey holds a Bachelor's Degree from Auburn University and has been a member of Randall-Reilly Publishing's editorial staff for 14 years, where his coverage of industry topics has earned numerous regional and national awards over the years.