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ITS rides out recession, shifts gears into growth mode

John Seelmeyer

As the recession settled in, the owners of Sparks-based ITS Logistics consciously suspended the company’s rapid growth and moved to eliminate some $8 million of marginally profitable sales.

The company today is moving back into the fast lane buying new equipment, acquiring a regional carrier in Southern California, adding staff and widening its services.

The upshot: The company projects 30 percent growth this year.

“We successfully rode out the economic downturn,” says Jeff Lynch, president of ITS Logistics.

After hunkering down during the worst of the recession, ITS Logistics cautiously ventured out last spring with the acquisition of Quick Silver Express, a regional carrier headquartered in La Mirada, Calif.

Southern California already is the largest market for ITS, and Quick Silver provides access to a large pool of potential new customers including the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, which have major accounts for Quick Silver Express.

“It’s been a great acquisition for us,” says Lynch.

Closer to home, ITS Logistics has invested in $8 million worth of new truck tractors and trailers in the last six months, and has completed a major technology upgrade.

With new computers and GPS gear on its trucks, ITS Logistics can work closely with its customers alerting them, for instance, about the expected arrival time of a truck so they can be ready to unload it quickly.

The company also took a hard look at the third-party logistics services it provides to retailers and other companies that contract with ITS to handle warehousing, order-picking and some final assembly.

ITS shed some contracts that were marginally profitable. Today, its primary focus in third-party logistics comes in sectors that include sporting goods, retail, healthcare and hardware and tools.

For all the investment in new equipment and new technology, ITS today faces an old-style problem: Recruiting enough drivers to staff its expansion.

The company expects to add 30 to 40 employees this year. Its current staff of 150 is down from its peak of 180 before the onset of the recession.

The next step in the growth of ITS Logistics came through its recent partnership with Echo Global Logistics Inc., a Chicago-based company that provides technology-based logistics solutions to more than 29,000 companies with complex transportation and distribution needs.

The partnership, Lynch says, has landed several large contracts for ITS Logistics, and the availability of sophisticated technological solutions opens the door for ITS to sell other services as well.