VOL. 6 | NO. 50 | Saturday, December 7, 2013
EMPHASIS: Distribution & Logistics
Diversification Leads to Growth for Blue Sky Couriers
By Michael Waddell
Blue Sky Couriers is enjoying steady growth over the past several years thanks to geographic expansion and diversification of its services.
Blue Sky Couriers, formed in 1998 and purchased by Rick Hechinger in 2004, has seen steady growth over the past several years, thanks to expansion and diversification.
This year the company has grown its truck fleet and driver base and added night routes to new regional destinations, and goals for next year include ramping up its medical specimen and Transportation Security Administration work.
Blue Sky formed in 1998 and Rick Hechinger purchased the transportation company in 2004, maintaining a focus on the on-demand hotshot business, such as one-hour and two-hour deliveries across the city.
“We have a large customer base in that segment, and that business continues to allow us to expand into different things and diversify,” said Hechinger, Blue Sky president and CEO. “It’s no secret to anybody that because of technology the overall courier market has been shrinking for years. Document traffic has been diminishing due to technology, emails, PDFs, electronic signatures and the Internet. So our goal has been to increase our market share and diversify our service offerings.”
Diversifying meant expanding from being only a courier and delivery service into trucking and warehousing, with large tractor-trailer freight and rush deliveries.
Blue Sky has grown over the years due mostly to word of mouth, and the company now boasts a customer list of more than 2,700 clients, 1,900 of which are active. Its revenues, which totaled just more than $1 million in 2004, have grown 42 percent since. Business this year is up 18 percent, and activity has been on the rebound since the recession affected business in 2009 – the only year the company posted a loss.
“The first impact we felt that year was from closing attorneys,” Hechinger said. “At that time no more real estate transactions were happening, and closing attorneys made up 18 percent to 20 percent of our business. Business evaporated seemingly overnight, and we felt a loss of 20 percent for the year.”
Other than ’09, Blue Sky has posted record years for the past seven.
This year Blue Sky has grown its trucking operations to include regional transport up to 500 miles away. The company increased its company-owned fleet to six trucks, including tractor trailers and 26-foot straight trucks, and it currently employs 68 independent drivers, up from 55 to start the year.
Another way Blue Sky is diversifying is by contracting out its driver force by going into businesses like truck parts centers, taking over distribution duties and supplying drivers and trucks.
“We do that at several locations now,” Hechinger said. “Those companies are able to sell their trucks, and they no longer have to deal with liability or managing hourly employees.”
In February the company began running night routes with its 26-foot trucks as far south as Birmingham, Ala., and as far north as Jonesboro, Ark.
“We’re getting double use out of those vehicles, and we want to continue to grow both the bay-side, on-demand portion of that freight business as well as the route work that happens late at night,” Hechinger said.
Blue Sky is also expanding in the area of medical specimens and supplies, which requires special training and certification.