Flexibility Is Key for Shipping in Metals Industry:
Eastern Connection Goes the Whole Nine Yards
(Actually 12 Feet) for Admiral Metals
WOBURN, MA---Admiral Metals, based in Woburn, Mass., is a leading distributor of high-grade metals in 13 states and one province, serving the Northeast and extending down to Maryland, west to Ohio, and north to Toronto. The family-run company, founded in 1950, values personalized relationships and prides itself on its dedicated staff, long-time partnerships, fast response time, and around-the-clock operations.
Like most businesses today, Admiral looks for ways to cut costs and sharpen its competitive edge. To help Admiral deliver its goods to customers, the company has a fleet of trucks that ship thousands of metal products, many of which are quite large. A challenge for Admiral is to respond to significant swings in customer demand and to augment its shipping capacity accordingly, including plans to deliver smaller products such as its much-in-demand 12-foot metals. So, Admiral checked with national carriers to see if they could help, but the company learned there were size restrictions. They also checked with LTL companies, but they there were too expensive.
A Good Neighbor
For some time, Admiral searched for a solution. What they didn’t realize until this January was that the answer was literally around the corner in Woburn, where Eastern Connection, one of the largest regional carriers in the Northeast, has its largest office. During the holidays in late December of 2013, people at Admiral saw a story about Eastern Connection in the Wall Street Journal, and Don Bishop, Admiral’s Corporate Operations Manager, set up a meeting.
After learning more about Eastern Connection, it seemed like it might be a good fit for Admiral. Not only were the two companies based in the same neighborhood, but they cover much of the same footprints with regional offices. Also, EC has a long and successful track record (recently celebrating its 30th anniversary), EC is known for later pickups, earlier deliveries, and personalized service. Plus, EC’s prices are significantly lower than the nationals, and EC is a 24/7 operation.
But what sealed the deal for Admiral is what they found out after meeting with Eastern Connection: EC is also much more flexible than the national giants, with the ability to deliver the critical 12-footers at “a very reasonable price point.”
“I’m not shocked that Admiral didn’t know about us,” said EC President & CEO Jim Berluti. “Like other regional services, we don’t have multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns and outstanding brand recognition. What we do have is a loyal following, and we’re starting to gain more traction, as we’re projecting a record year.”
Growing and Saving
While EC is increasing its revenue, its customers typically increase their productivity and save hundreds of thousands of dollars in delivery expenses. For Admiral, a lot of the cost savings are the result of fewer accessorial charges and hidden fees that are often associated with the national carriers. According to Brian Scanlon, EC’s account executive for Admiral, EC is upfront about any accessorial charges, so they don’t show up on customer invoices unexpectedly.
Bishop expects that the partnership with EC will continue to grow. While EC now delivers about 60 parcels a day for Admiral, Bishop anticipates that the number to jump to 100 per day.
“We are known for delivering to our customers on time, and so is Eastern Connection,” said Bishop. “With EC’s reliable ground service, they guarantee next-day delivery by the end of business, something the nationals usually can’t match. EC also picks up later than other carriers, coming to our Woburn facility as late as 9 p.m.”
Old Values, New Solutions
Bishop adds, “Admiral has been around a long time, and we’re still true to our original values. But we also know the importance of finding creative, new solutions.
“With Eastern Connection, it’s a win-win situation for two companies that have a lot common. We like dealing with the same customer service representatives every day, we like the personal attention of our account representative, and, of course, we appreciate the cost savings. But the real home-run for us was that EC was able to be flexible about shipping pieces that are 12 feet long.”
According to Berluti, it’s sometimes still challenging for Eastern Connection to get in the door and get companies to explore new business models. But he says that when EC has the chance to demonstrate the advantages of regional carriers, they are successful.
“I’m surprised that I wasn’t familiar with Eastern Connection before,” said Bishop. “Now I see their trucks all the time!”