When your customer base ranges from construction material suppliers to helicopter manufacturers, you have to be prepared to pick up and deliver anything from an envelope to a trailer load of lumber. For Pronto Delivery, Courier and Logistics that means operating a fleet of 200 vehicles that ranges from pickups to tractors. The single largest category of its vehicles are the Class 6-7 straight trucks that form the foundation of most P&D operations, but Pronto also has rack trucks, cargo vans, and gooseneck trailers, as well as 48-ft. flatbeds and 53-ft. van trailers.
Originally started as a two-person courier service in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in 1984, Pronto quickly moved into the expedited freight arena, later adding warehousing to the mix. Just two years ago, it also set up a second courier and expedited freight operation in the Houston metropolitan area.
“Having an extremely diverse fleet is absolutely part of our business model,” says Tiffany McClure, Pronto's marketing manager. “We can go to large corporations like Bell Helicopter and tell them we can help everyone from their legal department to their distribution operation with whatever they need to ship quickly.”
Not that the company limits its sales efforts to large businesses. “We market ourselves to the two-person home-based business as well as the Frito-Lays, to anyone who needs time-sensitive service,” says McClure. “On-demand, same-day delivery is really our specialty.”
While the courier business in general has been eroded by electronic document delivery, Pronto has seen its expedited freight services really take off in recent years. Construction materials like doors and lumber make up a substantial portion of Pronto's freight P&D traffic, but it also includes a wide mix of shipments with hazmat classifications like janitorial supplies or safety products, McClure says.
On the equipment side, that's meant beefing up the fleet with more 26-ft. van and flatbed straight trucks with liftgates. Currently, it has 45 Peterbilt Model 330 and Model 335 medium duties on full-service lease from Paccar Leasing. Leasing the straight trucks “offers us a significant competitive advantage because [of] the equipment and flexibility they provide,” McClure says.
“And PacLease provides us with rental trucks so we can respond rapidly by increasing or decreasing the fleet according to our customers' hot-shot delivery needs,” she adds.
Supplementing the straight trucks in the freight service are company-owned gooseneck trailers and 1-ton pickups, as well as 48-ft. flatbed trailers and 53-ft. vans. Sprinter vans and pickups with various body configurations, also company-owned, round out that portion of Pronto's P&D operations.
Pronto also builds flexibility into its pool of company drivers and independent contractors. It not only helps them obtain hazmat certifications, but also offers training for Transportation Security Administration certification so they can handle air freight into the Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston airports. “Right now about 50% are certified,” says McClure, who conducts the training classes. “We pay the cost for required Security Threat Assessment background checks, and also provide the required annual retraining.”
Like every other carrier in the country, Pronto hasn't been able to escape the freight recession. “We certainly experienced a [freight] lull last year,” says McClure. “It was the first time we didn't have substantial growth, but we reacted early on to get ready and we've remained very healthy.”
Asked if the company is experiencing pressure on rates, McClure quickly answers, “Heck, yes. Our service is great, but right now it's more about price than relationships. Fortunately, we're really competitive on rates. It's just not always fun these days.”