New facility, branding mark growth of Griffin's services

Customers of Griffin Transport Services Inc. keep asking if the Reno-based company can do just one more thing.

And therein lies the secret of annual growth that's been running at 20 percent or more the last few years.

But at the same time, President Russ Romine and his executive team sometimes worry whether they're in danger of spreading themselves and their company's service too thin.

They're about to get a big test as the company soon to be rebranded as "Griffin, a Global Supply Chain Company" prepares to move into a new 60,707-square-foot facility it leased from DP Partners on Capital Court in the Dermody Business Park.

With the new facility, the company launched 30 years ago by Jeff Griffin, Reno's former mayor, to handle international shipping will be in position to handle the entire logistics needs of its customers.

It can pick up a shipment of toys, for example, at a Chinese manufacturer, bring them through U.S. customs, warehouse them and deliver them to a retailer's shelf in a Midwestern town.

"It's a significant step for us," says Romine. "It allows us to tie the whole thing together."

The company's roster of more than 500 customers ranges from shippers of low-value commodities to makers of high-tech consumer electronics.

Some turn to Griffin for specialized needs. An electronics manufacturers asks the company to move eight large test chambers to Thailand, with delivery scheduled on a global holiday. A manufacturer hires Griffin to move a production line from Mexico to the West Coast. An Internet retailer moves its entire inventory from New York to Nevada.

And others ask Griffin to take on an ever-growing part of their logistics and distribution.

"What people are looking for is the expertise to take care of them," says Kevin Manning, the company's vice president of specialized transport services. "Logistics is not their business. It's our business."

Shortly after Romine bought the company in 2001 he's worked for Griffin since 1990 he began assembling a management team seasoned by years of experience in Fortune 500 companies.

Along with Romine and Manning, the team includes Lowell Moore, vice president of sales; William Dalton, vice president of import operations; and Randy Joy, vice president of supply-chain logistics.

"If you put the five of us in a room, we can talk about any topic in logistics you would like with a high level of expertise," says Moore.

What customers have said they want from Griffin, Joy says, is one-stop service. The issue has grown increasingly important to them as Asian manufacturing becomes a critical piece for more American companies, adding new layers of complication to their logistics.

And that, in turn, has led Griffin's 28 employees through a steady expansion of services ranging from international shipping and customs brokerage to pick-and-pack distribution and last-mile delivery.

At the same time, Romine says, the company's management team carefully scrutinizes new opportunities.

"We could be flooded with opportunities," he says. "But they're not always the right kind of opportunities. We've got to be careful about not spending a lot of time on what might not be the right business."

In the same breath, Romine says the company's new distribution facility in Reno probably will be followed by similar operations elsewhere in the country.

Logistics customers, he says, want Griffin to do just one more thing. This time, they want the company to operate warehouses closer to their markets.


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