March 2013 | Sponsored | Economic Development

Georgia: Logistics Front and Center

Tags: Economic Development, Site Selection

A prime geographic location positions businesses in Georgia to take the lead.

On May 20, 1819, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean departed Savannah for Liverpool, England. Georgia has been making transportation history ever since, and the state became a logistics leader before the word even existed in industry vernacular. Today, that leadership continues.

"Georgia's prime geographic location makes it a leading point of origin for companies moving product to market," says Page Siplon, executive director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, a Savannah-based industry group fueling logistics growth and global competitiveness. "The state's advantages include top-ranked infrastructure, world-class intellectual and workforce programs, and a diverse, robust logistics network.

"While other states offer similar advantages in some of these areas, few can claim the total package," he adds. "And none leverage and focus on logistics as a strategic economic development tool the way Georgia does.

"Combining the state's logistics assets with its location in the heart of the fastest-growing U.S. population region—and access to more than 80 percent of the U.S. market within a two-day truck trip—creates a powerful location for companies to work from," Siplon concludes.

A quick survey of Georgia's logistics assets includes the following resources:

Air. Georgia is home to 144 public and private airports. The country's 10th-largest cargo hub, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, offers service to six continents, and more than 1.5 million square feet of cargo handling space. Shipments from the facility can reach 80 percent of the U.S. market within two hours, and any major North American city within four hours.

Rail. With nearly 5,000 miles of railroad track, and the largest intermodal facility on the East Coast, Georgia is the origin for 39 million rail-tons of cargo annually—and destination for more than 90 million rail-tons. Two Class I railroads and 24 shortline carriers serve the state.

Road. A combined 5.9 million tons of freight moves weekly on Georgia's 1,200 miles of interstate highways and 20,000 miles of federal and state highways. Multiple industry groups have consistently ranked Georgia's road network as one of the top in the nation.

Sea. The Port of Savannah's Garden City Terminal is the fastest-growing container port in the nation, ranking fourth in the United States in total volume, and second in containerized exports. As the largest single-operator container facility in North America, it serves more than 40 steamship lines. The port is one of only a few in the United States with two Class I railroad facilities on terminal. The Port of Brunswick handles 12 percent of all U.S. rolling imports, making it the third-largest port in the nation for automobile and machinery trade.

Warehousing. Two of the five largest North American private warehouse operators are headquartered in Georgia, along with two of the 10 largest 3PL warehouse operators. Of the top 25 global 3PLs, 90 percent operate in the state. Georgia houses 230 retail distribution centers—28 of which exceed one million square feet—representing 175 different retailers.

Logistics information technology. The 11,000 logistics service providers that call Georgia home create a growing market for logistics and supply chain management technology. Almost 400 logistics-related technology companies—from new start-ups to some of the world's largest solutions providers—operate in the state.

Workforce. Nationally ranked university and technical college systems offer 100 logistics-related degrees and certificates, including doctoral programs at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia Southern University. The state offers high-quality workers at affordable wages, and helps companies train new workers with Quick Start, the nation's top-ranked workforce development program.

A closer look at Georgia's business landscape reveals even more supply chain advantages—and makes it easy to see why companies choose the state when siting new manufacturing and distribution facilities.

Logistics Heart of the Southeast

Competing in today's global marketplace depends on delivering goods efficiently and reliably. Companies of every type and size need effective means for receiving raw materials and shipping finished products.

To fuel this competitiveness, Georgia provides an incomparable logistics and transportation infrastructure that saves companies both time and money by seamlessly connecting airports and seaports with railroads and highways. In addition, the state nurtures a culture of innovation that provides enhanced access for companies pursuing new opportunities.

As an industry-focused component of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Center of Innovation for Logistics helps companies overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to moving freight. The center provides focused expertise, specific industry data, connections to state resources, and an extensive cross-sector industry network.

The Center of Innovation for Logistics represents all segments of the logistics sector, which makes for a comprehensive list of constituents. Georgia's logistics services cover everything from core transportation and facilities to third-party logistics and software providers. These providers employ more than 142,000 Georgians—ranking it fifth in the nation for logistics and supply chain employment—and together generate more than $16 billion in annual sales. More than 2,000 logistics providers operate in the metropolitan Atlanta area alone, employing almost 39,000 people.

Transportation and logistics providers such as Delta Cargo, UPS, and Saia maintain headquarters in Georgia, along with major companies such as The Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Carters Inc., and Gulfstream. The ability to efficiently, reliably, and cost-effectively ship any product to any customer by any mode to any market is a huge benefit for all businesses, and is quickly becoming the baseline from which companies make growth decisions. Georgia's logistics capability is one reason so many companies include the state on their site-selection shortlists.

Ports and Progress

Georgia's natural landscape offers gorgeous sights, but for logistics providers, the state's real beauty lies in the connection between its easily navigable land and modern, efficient port facilities.

Georgia's ports serve as strategic gateways to rail and road distribution networks, offering efficient and reliable access to markets across the U.S. Southeast and Midwest, including those with the fastest-growing populations and capital investments. Two Class I rail options, and immediate access to major interstate connections, combine with an inventory of carrier services that ranks among the largest of any global port. The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) reported outstanding results for both the Port of Savannah and the Port of Brunswick for fiscal 2012.

"As the number-two export facility in the nation, the Port of Savannah contributes significantly to promoting American businesses in the global marketplace," says GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz. "In 2012, the port achieved record cargo volume, significant infrastructure improvements, and continued environmental leadership."

The Port of Savannah moved three million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2012—setting a container volume record for the port. Additional accomplishments included an increase of 561,038 tons of cargo moved, for a port record total of 26.5 million tons.

Extending Access

These impressive statistics are likely to get even better. The Georgia Ports Authority has received final approval to deepen the harbor, which will allow the Port of Savannah to reduce costs and more efficiently serve Post-Panamax vessels. To support business and market share growth, the GPA has also made significant landside investments to increase efficiency and capacity at the Port of Savannah.

For example, in 2012, the GPA awarded a construction contract to extend the Jimmy DeLoach Parkway. When construction is complete, the $73-million project will provide direct access to the port from Interstate 95. In addition, a new Highway 307 overpass, just outside the port's main gate, was completed in 2012. The overpass routes cargo trucks above a six-track expansion at one of Savannah's two on-terminal railyards.

Another port enhancement is the 6,000-foot rail extension opened at the Mason Intermodal Container Transfer Facility in 2012. The overpass and rail extension improve freight handling via road and rail, expanding capacity, boosting efficiency, and reducing costs for shippers.

These recent improvements enhance the Port of Savannah's intrinsic advantages, which include:

    Immediate access to east-west Interstate 16 and north-south Interstate 95, which means trucks can reach key cities and manufacturing points throughout the U.S. Southeast and Midwest within a one- to two-day drive.

    At 1,200 acres, the Port of Savannah's Garden City Terminal is the largest container facility in the nation. More than four million square feet of distribution center space is available within a 30-mile radius of the port. Another 1,700 acres of land are available for development.

    CSX and Norfolk Southern provide Class I rail service and operate on-terminal. Two- to five-day double-stack rail service is available to destinations such as Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Memphis, and Orlando.

Lower shipping costs per container are driving the transition to Post-Panamax vessels. "The only current obstacle to bringing these ships from the West to the East Coast has been the Panama Canal," says Foltz. "Shippers will likely keep freight destined for eastern U.S. markets on the water, delivering it to Savannah and other East Coast ports. This is the most cost-effective cargo transportation mode. Debate continues regarding the magnitude of growth through East Coast ports, but lower shipping costs will translate into incremental growth."

Port Appreciation

Anticipating that growth, Matson Logistics, a provider of multimodal transportation, warehousing, and distribution services throughout North America, added new distribution center space near Savannah in February 2013. The logistics division is part of Matson, a Honolulu-based transportation provider whose offerings span the globe from Shanghai to Savannah and encompass everything from serving the island economies of Hawaii, Guam, and Micronesia to delivering a range of multimodal services throughout North America.

Matson entered the Savannah distribution market by building out a one-million-square-foot campus in Pooler, Ga. "Our newest operation expands on our ability to move retail goods through the Port of Savannah," says Mark Ferzacca, assistant vice president of sales for Matson Logistics Warehousing. "More companies are using East Coast distribution centers to keep their product closer to a rapidly growing regional market."

Matson contracted for 65,000 square feet, with the ability to increase to 125,000 square feet. The move follows a September 2012 expansion to its Bryan County operation, which added 237,600 square feet to the company's regional footprint.

"Matson's decision to expand its East Coast distribution center space in Savannah will provide shippers cost-effective and reliable access to 44 percent of the U.S. population," says Foltz.

The outlook is equally encouraging at the Port of Brunswick, where fiscal 2012 marked double-digit growth in cargo volume at both Colonel's Island and East River Terminal.

Colonel's Island handled 553,543 units of autos and machinery for 19-percent growth in fiscal 2012—making it the nation's third-busiest port for roll-on/roll-off cargo. In the past four years, Colonel's Island more than doubled its national market share from four percent to 10 percent, thanks to factors including a highly skilled workforce, unsurpassed infrastructure, and room to grow.

East River Terminal, meanwhile, experienced a year-over-year tonnage increase of 14.1 percent to reach 663,446 tons. Spurred by 46-percent growth in the past five years—with more on the horizon—the Port of Brunswick received a $14.7-million investment in infrastructure improvements in 2012.

Commerce Chooses Georgia

The investments Georgia Ports Authority and its terminal operators have made in the Brunswick facilities significantly increased capacity, allowing the port's auto, machinery, and biomass fuel trades to flourish.

"These numbers show the extent to which commerce has chosen Georgia as a gateway to global trade," says GPA Board Chairman Robert Jepson. "The Georgia Ports Authority's economic impact extends well beyond state lines. Efficient access to world markets through Georgia's deepwater ports will become more vital to businesses that serve the Southeast as the region's population grows.

"As we continue to invest in infrastructure, and provide customers with service excellence, productivity, reliability, and consistency, Georgia's ports are poised for progress," he adds.

Schneider Logistics, a Green Bay, Wis.-headquartered logistics and transportation services provider, regularly moves freight through the Georgia ports.

"As executives continue to look to the supply chain for cost reductions and efficiency improvements, the way they make logistics decisions has evolved," says Dan Flaherty, vice president and general manager, Schneider Port Logistics.

To drive these efficiencies and cost savings through shippers' supply chains, Schneider maintains a presence at most U.S. ports of entry and inland ports. The Schneider Port Logistics division provides drayage, warehousing, transloading, and distribution services at ports across the nation. Its capabilities include full-service operations in Savannah, Norfolk, Houston, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Within its portfolio of Port Logistics Services, Schneider maintains and manages more than eight million square feet of warehouse space, providing public and contract warehousing and crossdocking services.

"Our Savannah operations are a strategic service offering," Flaherty says. "We provide deconsolidation, export consolidation, storage, and value-added services through our two million square feet of warehouse space in Savannah. Our customers are very pleased with the service the GPA provides."

The GPA's focus on improving infrastructure on and off the terminal means quicker turn times for Schneider's port drayage operations. One of the largest warehouse and dray providers in Savannah, Schneider's Port Logistics Services network serves 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies, processes more than 80,000 containers and 100 million cases annually through its distribution network, and manages drayage for more than 200,000 containers annually. Schneider's Savannah facilities are located within 10 minutes of both port and rail ramps, and close to both Interstate 95 and Interstate 16.

"When feasible for our customers, Schneider encourages moving product through both East and West Coast ports to increase efficiencies," Flaherty says. "For shippers considering an East Coast port, we emphasize the ease of doing business in Savannah, and the effectiveness of the Georgia Ports Authority."

Growth and Development

For decades, Georgia's economy has been supercharged by growth and development. In the 1990s, the state's population grew from 6.5 million to 8.1 million, an increase of 26.4 percent, and the fourth-largest population gain among the 50 states for the period. Georgia's population will increase from its current 9.9 million to more than 14 million by 2030, according to projections.

In light of these staggering numbers, business and government leaders continue to work to bring new business—and the jobs associated with them—to the state.

In late 2012, for example, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced that Korean automotive equipment manufacturer Mando Corp. would construct a new casting facility in Meriwether County, investing $80 million and creating 660 jobs by 2020.

"Because Mando has an existing facility here, the company quickly realized that Georgia's business resources are an advantage for an international firm looking to expand," says Deal, who called on Mando at its Seoul headquarters during a business mission to Korea in fall 2011. "This decision moves us closer to making Georgia the number-one place in the nation to do business."

3PLs Play Crucial Role

Logistics providers play a central role in Georgia's business development effort. One example is Atlanta Bonded Warehouse (ABW), a provider of temperature-controlled warehousing and less-than-truckload (LTL) and truckload (TL) transportation services.

Since its founding in 1948, ABW has grown from 42,500 square feet of low-cube storage space to more than two million square feet of modern, secure, high-cube storage capacity. ABW's main metro-Atlanta campus in Kennesaw, Ga., is convenient to major interstate highways and is rail-served by CSX.

The company cites the location's numerous advantages, including access to skilled and semi-skilled labor; low overall tax rates; and proximity to three major interstate highways and all Southeastern ports, including those in Savannah; Charleston, S.C.; Mobile, Ala.; and Florida.

"Georgia—and specifically Atlanta—is the perfect crossroads for traffic from the Southern and Mid-Atlantic ports, the interstate system, and the center of the growing Southeastern economies," says Joe Keith, president of ABW. "Few U.S. distribution points can compare."

Moreover, Georgia provides a business and logistics environment ideally suited for growth, according to Fred Keith, CEO of ABW. In late 2012, the company leased 404,000 square feet of temperature-controlled space in a building adjacent to company-owned properties in Kennesaw. This addition brings the total space available in Kennesaw to more than 1.6 million square feet of temperature-controlled warehouse capacity.

"This lease is evidence of both the growth of our business and our commitment to satisfying customers' needs," says Hal Justice, vice president of sales and operations for ABW. "Our goal is to provide competitive warehousing, transportation, and packaging solutions to fuel our customers' growth."

Maintaining Connections

Another Georgia growth story is Atlanta-based HWC Logistics. CEO Mike Owens started the company in 1981 as a courier with a single vehicle. HWC transported documents from customs brokers to airlines, customs offices, banks, and steamship lines. Today, the company provides distribution, warehousing, transportation, and import and export services.

With its global headquarters and original warehouse in Atlanta, and additional sites in Savannah, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Virginia, HWC is part of the network of logistics providers that keeps Georgia connected.

"Atlanta and Savannah are the Southeast's best-positioned distribution and transportation hubs," says Owens. "Using these two great cities gives shippers the benefit of access to both the largest airport in the world, the dynamic Port of Savannah, and the South's largest road and rail transportation infrastructure."

A series of expansions spurred by HWC's increased growth and new service capabilities culminated in a move to a new warehouse in 2013, encompassing 535,000 square feet on 17 acres near Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The company also maintains a 55,000-square-foot warehouse in Charlotte, N.C., which opened in 2001, and a 227,500-square-foot warehouse in Savannah, which opened in 2007 and provides shippers a direct gateway into Atlanta.

Savannah Stronghold

The Savannah facility has been used to great advantage for distribution of MilkOpet, a nutritionally enhanced lactose-free product for dogs. The product, created in Australia, was introduced to U.S. consumers in 2012.

Doug Pendley, president of MOPNA Inc., sole distributor of MilkOpet to North America, says Georgia is an ideal location. "We wanted to seal off the Southeast region," Pendley says. "Our stronghold is Savannah, which offers a prime location. The climate is a big factor, too. Georgia doesn't experience extreme low temperatures. It's good for the logistics of having a product reassembled into packs, and stored for extended periods before shipping it across the United States."

MilkOpet ultimately chose HWC because of the capability to handle all its logistics needs. It also provided a workforce with the proper associated skills, and a positive attitude.

"Folks in Savannah are very welcoming," Pendley notes.

Traversing Past and Present

The Georgia logistics sector has a long tradition of connections and relationships. Gainesville, Ga.-based transportation provider Syfan Logistics exemplifies that spirit of past, present, and future.

The Syfan family started Syfan Logistics in 2011, but its experience dates back nearly 30 years. Jim Syfan—who runs the company with sons Greg and Steve—worked in transportation brokerage for a decade before launching his first company, Turbo Logistics, in 1984.

While Syfan Logistics is young, it carries the respect of a more established company because of the family's long-held reputation in the transportation industry.

Specializing in deadline-sensitive perishable food product deliveries, Syfan Logistics works extensively with the nation's largest poultry, seafood, confectionery, cereal, and soft drink companies. The business also serves the largest package-delivery companies in the world, along with all expedited divisions of America's major automotive manufacturers.

"Having served Georgia's poultry industry for most of our career, we are well-versed in meeting the most demanding deadlines," says CEO Jim Syfan. "We also are strategically located in a state that has America's busiest airport and one of its busiest seaports."

Syfan Logistics has grown to more than 80 transportation professionals in its first two years, but retains its Southern-style family atmosphere and personal attention to clients.

"Georgia has a tradition of Southern hospitality, and so does Syfan Logistics," says Jim Syfan. "Service is our business, and we demonstrate that spirit every day."

Syfan Logistics offers third-party logistics services, an expedited division, and dedicated truck fleets. The company maintains a network of more than 11,200 qualified carriers, tracked through sophisticated monitoring software . Proactive communication is accomplished via customized electronic data interchange (EDI), an interactive Web site, and email.

The company's latest innovation, Freight Management Services (FMS), provides shippers a new pathway to cost savings. Syfan Logistics invested in sophisticated software and training that will help customers trim 10 percent or more from their freight costs. Syfan Logistics President Greg Syfan says most companies with average annual freight expenditures exceeding $3.5 million can benefit from the program.

"Our FMS program combines our transportation knowledge and experience with our software's sophisticated tools," Greg Syfan says. "In times like these, when every penny saved is so important, it is a huge plus to provide another way for our customers to trim costs."

Live Service, Around the Clock

Ninety minutes north of Atlanta, in Rome, Ga., is Scott Logistics Corp., a state-of-the-art business with unique character. Among its innovative touches, the woman-owned company spurns voicemail and has no automated attendants. Bilingual personnel provide communication throughout the shipping process, by phone or online.

CEO and owner Diane Manis started the company 17 years ago. "My vision is to provide superior transportation solutions with a personal touch," she says. "Customers are our top priority."

Each customer account is assigned a personalized team providing 24/7 coverage. Someone answers calls around-the-clock.

In addition to its corporate office in Rome, Scott has offices in Atlanta; Fort Payne, Ala.; and Jacksonville, Fla., offering TL, LTL, and intermodal services with EDI capability. Scott Logistics currently serves 17 of the top Fortune 500 businesses nationwide.

"We have a compliance group to ensure carriers meet our customers' expectations and adhere to all Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations," says Mike Konicek, Scott's director of operations. "On-time performance and road safety factor heavily into our daily operational standards."

Georgia's logistics advantages support the company's success. "Our intermodal division benefits from the fact that all five Class I railroads offer service from the Atlanta market," Konicek says."With our drayage carrier network, we are able to serve the increased activity out of the Port of Savannah."

Global Reach

Georgia's logistical reach extends well beyond U.S. borders. For Americold Transportation Services, based in Atlanta since 1931, the state's infrastructure and seaports facilitate global access and speed customer shipments to international markets.

Managing more than 90,000 truckloads of freight annually, Americold offers a broad range of transportation management services. The company's i-3PL technology delivers real-time information over the Internet, allowing customers visibility to the status of incoming goods, outgoing shipments, and available inventory.

Americold owns and operates more than 182 temperature-controlled warehouses in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, China, Argentina, and Canada. Four types of warehouse facilities—consolidation, public, production, and dedicated distribution—meet specific supply chain needs. Americold also manages facilities owned by customers.

In addition to its warehouses, DCs, and port facilities, Americold offers a full range of transportation services, including expedited, consolidation programs, shipment management, multi-vendor consolidation, and national LTL transportation.

White Glove Winner

Georgia is also home to a logistics provider specializing in a first-class last-mile experience. Founded in 2001, Atlanta-based 3PD has more than 500 operating locations and 2,000 branded contract carrier teams, serving more than five million orders annually. The company focuses on the all-important final-mile experience—and protecting its clients' brands.

"Many businesses underestimate the complexity of last-mile deliveries," says 3PD CEO Karl Meyer, who established the company with his brother, Randy. "They assume last mile is predominantly about the driving, but it often centers on premium services such as installation or assembly—and pricing and scheduling accordingly."

Before founding 3PD, Karl, whose background is in engineering, was working with a major big box retailer. While there, he oversaw a project to improve the company's home-delivery service by transitioning from a private fleet to using outside vendors. A difficult search for a provider of nationally consistent solutions led him to conclude a gap existed in the marketplace. So he decided to fill the need himself.

He convinced his former colleagues to outsource select markets to 3PD. Other markets and customers soon followed—as did two key acquisitions/mergers that established 3PD as one of the largest players in the industry. Today, 3PD operates a national network and reports $320 million in annual revenues.

Given its business model, 3PD could operate anywhere in the country. But Meyer believes Georgia is the ideal location.

"Whether it's the transportation infrastructure, large population, or number of major companies with operations in the state, Georgia—and particularly Atlanta—provide a compelling value proposition," he says. "Combine that with the area's high quality of life—great weather, outstanding culture, wide range of sporting events, and proximity to everything from the North Georgia mountains to the Atlantic coast—and it's no wonder so many people and companies decide to call Georgia home. We're certainly glad we did."

Making the Blind Spot Visible

3PD uses sophisticated technology to give shippers product visibility to a traditional blind spot: the 50 to 100 miles between the distribution center and a customer's doorstep.

"That part of the move is when customers want precise information about their orders," says Meyer. "This visibility makes our clients' customers more secure, resulting in lower customer service expenses."

In late 2012, the company launched 3PDirect, a pay-per-use national network that offers first-to-last-mile delivery, assembly, and installation of heavy goods throughout the continental United States. 3PD also created a secure Web portal where businesses can obtain quotes, open an account, and immediately begin shipping via the new service.

"Until now, many heavy goods shippers were caught between a rock and a hard place," says Meyer. "They didn't have the volumes to justify using private or dedicated last-mile fleets in every market where they sold their products. Yet they also couldn't provide a nationally consistent delivery experience, because their transactional transportation options were limited to networks of dissimilar cartage agents.

"Just as important, booking and tracking shipments was often more complicated than it needed to be," he adds. "3PDirect was designed with those gaps in mind."

The new service offers product pick-ups from any factory, supplier, or distribution center in the contiguous 48 U.S. states. It also offers residential and commercial delivery, installation, and assembly services in the lower 48 states, via uniformed, background-checked and credentialed 3PD delivery teams.

Keep On Truckin'

Follow the highway signs and travel 20 miles east of Atlanta on Interstate 20 to find Brown Integrated Logistics. Based in Lithonia, Ga., Brown is a growth-oriented dedicated transportation and logistics service provider focused on the middle of the supply chain.

Through its subsidiaries Brown Logistics Services, West Logistics, Brown Fleet Services, and Brown Trucking, the company provides a suite of world-class services including third-party logistics, brokerage, warehousing, fleet maintenance, and dedicated trucking.

For logistics professionals, Georgia is the route to everywhere, says Brian Kinsey, Brown Integrated Logistics' president and CEO.

"For decades, Georgia has been a significant break-in transportation point, both inbound and outbound," he says. "It's no wonder that all the large trucking companies have major operations in Georgia.

"Companies looking for a site for a new plant, warehouse, or DC couldn't find a better place than Georgia," he adds. "The state is well positioned for export, import, and modal transportation optimization."

With a legacy dating back to 1946, the Brown Integrated Logistics group of companies has a rich history of growth. Today, the company has more than 1,200 employees; a fleet of 1,000-plus trucks; 1,100 commercial vehicle operators; 75 shop and mobile technicians; 200 warehousing specialists; and more than 5,000 trailers.

Brown offers a comprehensive menu of logistics services, including dedicated and regional truckload transportation, truck and intermodal freight brokerage, dedicated warehousing and warehouse management, and fleet management and leasing services.

"Our focus is on the Southeastern market, expanding to contiguous markets in the lower Midwest, Middle Atlantic, and lower Mississippi Valley," Kinsey says.

"We effectively use technology to make the company more efficient, provide customers with tactical advantages, reduce costs, and facilitate predictable synergies," he adds. "We maintain an asset-light structure, utilizing a mix of owner-operators and company-owned trucks; small, local terminals; and leased warehousing and shop facilities that allow us to be flexible, responsive, and nimble in changing markets."

The company's continued progress is assured, says Kinsey. "As we grow, we will use our economies of scale to improve our profitability and, at the same time, lower our customers' overall cost of service," he notes.

The Destination is Success

Georgia's roads to success are not limited to those found on a map. When you count the state's logistics advantages, put the Information Superhighway high on the list.

Keith Snavely, senior vice president, global sales and marketing for Atlanta-based nVision Global Technology Solutions, cites Georgia's vast IT resources as a primary advantage.

"As a global freight audit, payment, and logistics information management services provider, nVision Global relies heavily on Georgia's large IT and logistics talent pool to strengthen our core offerings, allowing the company to provide leading-edge products and services to our global customer base," Snavely says.

nVision Global operates four full-service processing centers spanning three continents. The company partners with multi-national corporations to reduce their overall costs by providing a global, single outsourced solution to efficiently process, audit, and pay all transportation-related invoices on a global scale.

"nVision Global processes millions of transportation-related invoices from more than 198 countries," Snavely says. "Through its Web-based analytical tools, customers save on average five to 15 percent of their transportation cost annually."

Saia Inc. is another of Georgia's primary logistics assets. Headquartered in Johns Creek, Ga., the $1-billion corporation offers LTL, non-asset TL, and logistics services through three service groups—Saia LTL Freight, Saia TL Plus, and Saia Logistics Services.

Saia offers next-day service up to 600 miles and second-day up to 1,200 miles. Additionally, 85 percent of the company's shipments are delivered within 48 hours. Last year, Saia invested more than $80 million in new equipment and technology.

With all the boxes checked and all the signs followed, it's clear why Georgia is on logistics providers' minds—especially given the state's support for their sector.

"One of the state's greatest assets is the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics," says Frank Anderson, vice president of Augusta-based RBW Logistics, a fourth-generation, family-owned provider of warehousing, transportation, brokerage, distribution, and contract labor management services.

"The center is a great resource to us, and for the industry as a whole. It works closely with the Georgia Chamber, the Georgia Ports Authority, and the Governor's office," Anderson says. "Together, they focus on the importance of logistics to the overall economy."

In general, the state's government has an excellent relationship with business, Anderson says, but Georgia's most important asset is pure geography. "It's all about velocity," he says. "Consumers have become more demanding in terms of delivery time. Being in Georgia gives us that competitive advantage."

And being positioned front and center is what 21st-century logistics is all about.

For information on featuring your region in an Economic Development Supplement, contact James O. Armstrong at 314-984-9007.