ABF expands global reach with ‘Ocean LTL’

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 80 views 

ABF Freight System is hoping to capture more of the import shipping of the growing number of products now manufactured in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan by making it easier for smaller companies to do business with companies in those markets.

ABF, a subsidiary of Fort Smith-based Arkansas Best Corp., announced Tuesday (Nov. 8) that it has added Ocean LTL to its shipping portfolio. Essentially, the service allows one-stop shopping for anyone in the U.S. seeking to import less-than-container and less-than-truckload items from the aforementioned markets.

“By combining ABF’s innovative Dual-System Network with top-tier NVOCC shipping, ABF is able to provide reliable global shipping solutions that offer importers unparalleled control and visibility,” Roy Slagle, ABF senior vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. “Our new Ocean LTL service is a great compliment to our already successful FCL (full-container-load) business, which has been around since 2006.”

Tuesday’s announcement follows a Sept. 12 notice by ABF that it added 12 Asian countries to its global market, and now has 20 offices in the region that work to feed the company’s supply-chain logistics business.

With FedEx and UPS expanding their reach into domestic trucking markets while also having a large global system, some freight carriers in recent years have been forced to get more involved in the global shipping business. And with ABF struggling in recent years because of fickle U.S. freight demand, the move may also be seen as a way to diversify the company’s revenue base.

Russ Aikman, ABF director of marketing and public relations, says the move is more  “of an effort to stay connected with what the market is doing.” He said with more manufacturing moving overseas, the company has had “a variety of customers” who indicated they would like the “single contact” ease of working solely with ABF to get products from Asian markets to various ports in the U.S.

He said the service is especially geared to the smaller businesses that may not have the resources (personnel, customs experience, etc.) to effectively handle global shipping. The “single invoice” the ensures delivery from a manufacturing center overseas “to their door in the U.S.” is what makes the system different from most ABF competitors, Aikman said.

“ABF handles everything,” Slagle explained in the ABF statement. “We’re a synchronized local, regional and transcontinental motor carrier, a non-vessel operating common carrier, and a global logistics service provider—linked together by a state-of-the-art technology platform that is the envy of the industry.”

Aikman said the Ocean LTL system has been in place for a few months.

Shares of Arkansas Best (NASDAQ: ABFS) closed Tuesday at $20.37, up 41 cents. During the past 52 weeks the share price has ranged from a $29.08 high to a $14.22 low.