Trucking company ABF Freight System is broadening its container service from the U.S. to the Dominican Republic as it expands its global portfolio.
The carrier is handling full containerload as well as less-than-containerload freight, offering single-contact door-to-door service to the Caribbean nation.
ABF, No. 5 on the JOC list of Top 50 U.S. and Canadian Trucking Companies, is responding to increased demand from customers shipping to the Dominican Republic under the CAFTA regional free trade agreement, said Russ Aikman, director of marketing and public relations for ABF.
U.S. exports to the island nation were up 24 percent in the first ten months of 2010, while imports increased 10.6 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
"There are 57 FTZ parks (free trade zones) in the Dominican Republic with over 600 manufacturing companies that demand every raw material imagined," said Aikman.
Those commodities include textiles, construction and building products, metallurgical related products, home and office furniture, hardware tools and machinery.
The nation is also a staging ground for relief and reconstruction efforts in neighboring Haiti, which occupies the other half of the island of Hispaniola.
"We anticipate seeing an increase in building materials, etc. as the Haitian rebuilding efforts continue," said Aikman.
ABF's enhanced service in the Dominican Republic is part of a global expansion at the Fort Smith, Ark.-based less-than-truckload carrier, he said.
Like other U.S. trucking operators, ABF is shifting from a traditional, transactional service model to a broader, contractual supply chain-oriented model.
That includes handling the transportation and delivery of full containers of goods direct from factory floors in China to U.S. customers, as well as LCL shipments.
"We have the ability to provide the shipper with visibility from the manufacturer's floor to the ship and all the way through to the destination," Aikman said.
That reflects post-recession customer demands as shippers rework supply chains to better manage inventory and reduce or control transportation costs.
"Our traditional shipment might have been one pallet," Aikman said. "Now shippers are telling us, 'I don't have just one pallet, I've got 1,500 containers annually."
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