Pyle, Oak Harbor ink cross-country LTL partnership

Pyle, Oak Harbor ink cross-country LTL partnership

A. Duie Pyle will get a West Coast presence for the first time through its partnership with Oak Harbor Freight Lines. Photo credit: A. Duie Pyle.

A cross-country partnership between two long-standing regional less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers throws another spotlight on growth in LTL trucking, despite a slowing United States economy. The partnership also underscores shipper demand for one-stop solutions to transportation challenges and large, scalable networks providing deeper access to resources.

A. Duie Pyle, a Northeast LTL regional carrier, announced a partnership Monday with West Coast LTL specialist Oak Harbor Freight Lines that gives the West Chester, Pennsylvania-based carrier a West Coast presence for the first time. The partnership will improve transit times for shippers while reducing dock congestion, a Pyle spokesperson said.

Pyle’s home territory stretches from Maine to Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio, but partnerships with other LTL carriers extend its two-to-four-day service map to the Great Plains and Texas. With Oak Harbor, Pyle will reach consignees and shippers in California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The pact will help both carriers build cross-country LTL density.

“This partnership with A. Duie Pyle reflects our company goals by gaining strategic partnerships that will allow our customer base to have a simple and uniform source for their transportation needs,” David Vander Pol, co-president and co-owner of Oak Harbor Freight, said in a statement. “We are excited to expand our services coast-to-coast.”

Seeking one-stop, scalable service

Shippers have long sought “one-stop shops” for transportation, often with limited success in past decades. Advancing technology, however, is making it much easier to connect disparate transportation networks and logistics services in more integrated and flexible ways. This is clear at larger LTL operators Old Dominion Freight Line, XPO Logistics, and YRC Worldwide.

Each of those companies has different strategies, but they and other peers are all using technology to get the most out of physical networks comprised of terminals, lanes, and trucks and trailers, as well as drivers and dockworkers. A common goal is to meet as many of their customers’ needs as possible, maximizing the amount of service they can provide.

Saia, a multiregional LTL carrier with roots in the Southeast, has been expanding into Pyle’s territory in the Northeast, opening more than a dozen terminals in the region since 2017. That expansion is a good indication there’s plenty of life in the LTL sector — which includes some of the oldest US trucking companies — at a time when freight volumes overall are lagging.

Pyle also has been expanding its LTL and logistics services on the East Coast, adding an integrated logistics service center in Saco, Maine, in July, building density in Maine and New Hampshire. That service center also shows how the LTL business is changing: the carrier is running both traditional LTL and custom dedicated operations out of the same facility.

Getting closer to customers is increasingly important for LTL carriers in the Amazon era. That’s true whether in Saco, Maine, or Bronx, New York, where Pyle opened a new terminal with a fleet of hybrid trucks last year. E-commerce is one factor helping LTL carriers keep terminals humming with activity despite a decline this year in traditional freight volumes.

The Pyle-Oak Harbor partnership also is notable for the age of the two companies. Oak Harbor traces its history back to 1916, when predecessor company Oak Harbor Transfer was founded in Oak Harbor, Washington. Pyle, founded by Alexander Duie Pyle in 1924, is celebrating its 95th anniversary. In the LTL business, legends are still running linehaul routes.

Contact William B. Cassidy at bill.cassidy@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @willbcassidy.