Ward Transport & Logistics Marking 85th Year
(excerpts from the Blair Business Mirror, June 2016 by Joe Hurd)
A new study from scientists at the Santa Fe Institute reveals that most businesses will survive an average of ten years, no matter what type of business they are and what the circumstances are which ultimately leads to their demise. Somebody at the Institute apparently neglected to share that information with the people at Ward Transport and Logistics.
Ward’s are observing the company’s 85th year in business during 2016. In an industry that has seen its share of turnover and turmoil, Ward Transport has been a standard for how to operate efficiently while making certain that nothing is left to chance. It’s the philosophy that William W. Ward embraced in 1931 and it applies just as appropriately today.
“My father’s business axiom was ‘Do right voluntarily’ and he never deviated from it,” acknowledged G. William Ward, who headed the company for 36 years. “As a result, we had no shortage of dedicated employees and loyal customers. That’s a tough combination to beat when it comes to devising a formula for success.”
According to William T. Ward, G. Bill’s son and current company president, the combination remains firmly in place today. “Our workforce has been an incredible asset to what we’ve been able to accomplish here,” Bill T. pointed out. “We have many instances of multiple generations from the same family that have spent their careers at Ward. Many of our employees have been with us more than 35 years.”
“Our customer base has followed a similar pattern. We still do business with our very first customer. We genuinely appreciate that they’ve chosen us and we do whatever it takes to validate their decision.”
Ward Transport’s longevity has been even more impressive when you consider some of the changes that have occurred within the trucking industry. When William W. Ward started the company, only a few carriers had the right to service PA. The Interstate Commerce Commission determined who could and who couldn’t. Ward Trucking, as it was known at that time, was one of the “fortunate four.” In 1980, when de-regulation occurred, the playing field changed dramatically and a host of new trucking companies sprang-up. Ward Trucking was the only one of the four holdovers that is still in business. Today, there are twelve companies serving Altoona.
“With a family company, there is never a designated starting or finishing date,” G. Bill disclosed. “I was twelve-years-old when I started in 1943. My first pay was at fifty cents a day. My last pay was on December 31, 2012 after sixty years of service.”
Bill T. Ward’s most vivid recollection of company indoctrination began following his college graduation. “I started working in the Maintenance Depart in 1982, became shop foreman in 1986, shop manager in 1989, director of maintenance and linehaul in 1996, executive VP in 2003 and CEO in 2007,” he stated. “All of those experiences helped me better understand how the company functioned and what was necessary to keep us moving forward. There have been challenges and opportunities.”
“Our future challenge will be to adapt our shipping to the millennials who have access to free drop shipping coaching and are buying differently and wanting expedited shipping. Another challenge will be the availability of drivers and mechanics. Fewer young people are choosing these professions. We will confront those situations with the same level of enthusiasm that we always have. It’s really the only way we know.”
For the past 85-years, it’s been more than good enough.