Watkins Motor Lines, the nation's largest privately held less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier, announced further expansion of its highly successful Regional Express Service. The company began building its regional network early last year by offering next-day service along the East Coast, in Florida, Texas, and along the Gulf Coast. Individual operations were then linked to provide second-day regional service from as far north as Long Island, NY, all the way south to Miami, FL.
The last expansion of 2004 was the opening of a Regional Express operation in Charlotte, NC, on December 27. The Charlotte operation connects 16 Watkins terminals with next-day service. The operational service area for this hub stretches from Richmond, VA, to Savannah, GA.
"We are very excited about the opening of our Charlotte Regional Express operation," said Jeff Sobecki, executive vice president of sales and marketing. "It allows us to compete directly in a very large regional market, and it completes a successful year of entry into the next-day and second-day markets."
The company also announced further expansion plans for the first half of 2005 with Regional Express operations opening in Albany, NY; Thomasville, GA; St. Louis, MO; and Knoxville, TN. Later on in the year, operations will open in Wheeling, WV; Charleston, WV; and Fort Wayne, IN.
"Once these sites are open we will offer regional service in virtually every one of our terminal locations east of the Mississippi and quite a few west of it as well," said Clay Watkins, WML's chief operating officer. "Because of the way our Regional Express system is set up it allows us to run our next-day and second-day business over the road outside of our traditional long-haul network. This allows us to offer a highly reliable regional service without impacting our established superior long-haul service. We can now offer the best of both worlds to our customers."
The unique design of the Watkins Regional Express enables the company to pick up both regional and long haul business on the same truck, then separate the regional freight at the origin terminal and run it via dedicated equipment to the Regional Express hub. Shipments then ultimately deliver to the consignee on one truck alongside any long-haul shipments. This innovative approach is a first for long-haul LTL carriers, who have traditionally tried to offer regional service by simply speeding up their long-haul networks.
"Our customers have made this expansion possible. Their response to this service has been incredible, said Watkins.
"Our initial plans were to open only two Regional Express operations in 2004 - we opened seven. Obviously, with this type of success it's not hard to understand why we already have plans in place to expand this service to even more markets later this year and into 2006."