Saia has continued its footprint expansion in Q3 with three Kansas terminals, bringing the company to a total of 186 sites across the country.
The LTL carrier previously announced terminal openings this year in Illinois, West Virginia, Georgia and New York. With eyes on long-term growth, Saia and its large LTL competitors such as Old Dominion Freight Line and XPO Logistics have pushed forward with network expansions, despite cooling freight demand, to take advantage of easing real estate costs.
Transport Dive traded emails with Kevin Szydel, Saia vice president of operations, West, to get his perspective on the company’s growth and the advantages it provides to the carrier and its customers.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
What opportunities do the new Kansas terminals present Saia that it didn't have before?
KEVIN SZYDEL: We will now be able to offer quicker, direct service to customers in the area. The facilities will also provide us with increased efficiencies within our network, allowing a higher level of service by speeding up the delivery cycle, while also reducing the possibility for claims because of less handling.
How do these centers fit into the LTL carrier's broad plans for network growth? Does it have a goal for excess capacity?
SZYDEL: Opening terminals like these helps us fill in geography and get closer to our customers. New facilities also do add door and driver capacity to our network as we continue to ensure we stay well ahead of customer demand. We are committed to holding on to enough capacity to say “yes” to our customers.
Are there any high-level differences in how the company launches and/or operates its terminals in Midwest markets, as compared to, say, those in Georgia or New York?
SZYDEL: While each opening is different because of a variety of factors including recruitment, the market and more, our teams provide the same focus and attention on making sure each new facility launched is a success and that we have the right people and tools in place to offer our customers terrific service from day one.
Will the terminals feature automation, robotics or other new capabilities worth noting?
SZYDEL: As we’ve opened terminals, we’ve focused on incorporating sustainable, or energy-saving, technology such as LED lighting as well as security systems to protect freight.
What excites you the most about this process? What is the biggest challenge?
SZYDEL: We’ve experienced tremendous growth these last several years — both in the number of facilities we now operate — along with all the new personnel we’ve hired. It has generated a lot of excitement both within the company and with our customers. With each new opening, our momentum keeps growing, driving us to provide higher levels of service.