Arkansas Best Continues Global Supply Chain Services Push

by The City Wire Staff ( 6 views 

Fort Smith-based ABF Freight System announced Friday that its global shipping services now reach through all of Europe and Turkey.

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The company’s “Global Supply Chain Services” (ABF GSCS) uses ocean transport to provide “a single contact for full-container-load (FCL) and expedited less-than-container-load (LCL) supply chain solutions.” A similar service has been in place for Asia and India.

The less-than-truckload company has offices in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The service works through 15 ports in Europe with “multiple weekly sailings” for handling of full-container-load imports and exports. The handling includes more than 50 container staging stations and “pre-carriage” locations.

“With this new expansion and our existing presence in China, India and Southeast Asia countries, ABF GSCS covers over 80 percent of the total ocean import market to the United States,” Carlos Martinez-Tomatis, ABF GSCS division vice president, said in a statement. “Global customers experience truly seamless service from end-to-end.”

Friday’s announcement of a new service is a continuation of the company’s global shipping efforts – launched in 2006 – and revenue diversification strategy.

In September 2011, the company announced it added 12 Asian countries to its global market, and at that time had 20 offices in the region that work to feed the company’s supply-chain logistics business.

That was followed in November 2011 with ABF announcing its “Ocean LTL” program to provide shipping solutions for products made in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The target market for the service was with small companies needing an easier process to get items from China to other markets. 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.

In June 2012, Arkansas Best Corp., the parent company of ABF, acquired Panther Expedited Services to further bolster its diversify its business model and broaden its “end-to-end logistics solutions for progressively more complex supply chains.” The $180 million deal to buy Seville, Ohio-based Panther allowed Arkansas Best to tap into a company that provided transportation and shipping solutions to more than 11,000 customers worldwide. At the time of the acquisition, Panther worked with more than 5,000 ground and air carriers to provide shipping logistics.

Execs at Fort Smith-based Arkansas Best, the parent company of ABF Freight System, have in recent years sought to diversify the company. ABF — one of the largest less-than-truckload carriers in the U.S. — was responsible for $1.73 billion of the $1.907 billion in revenue Arkansas Best posted during 2011.

Arkansas Best posted 2011 net income of $6.159 million, a huge swing from the $32.693 million loss during 2010. The 2011 financials marked the end of two consecutive years of income losses.

For the first nine months of 2012, the company has emerged from the red with net income of $197,000, which is below the $4.929 million in the same period of 2011. Total revenue during the first nine months was $1.528 million, ahead of the $1.444 billion in the same period of 2011.

Arkansas Best, which employs more than 10,000, is set to begin Dec. 18 on contract negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters toward a new labor contract for the about 7,800 unionized company employees. The existing contract expires March 31.