Reid Logistics

Con-Way Changed LTL Forever

By George Reid

While I wasn’t at Con-Way on day one or for the planning stage most of that was done by George Craig, Jerry Dwiggins and Jerry Detter before I joined.    I was named President of Con-Way Western about a year after its opening replacing Jerry Dwiggins who was headed back east to do a second startup for the Con-Way group.  CWX was the first Con-Way to open its doors with 8 terminals and 102 employees.  

I left Consolidated Freightways after 12 years growing up through the ranks as Terminal Manager in a number of locations including Providence, RI and Chicago,  IL and then Division Manager in Detroit and finally Chicago.

The planning of the Con-Way business model took place between 1982 and 1983 and was guided by the then Consolidated Freightways Inc.  CF had owned the Freightliner truck brand since its inception in the 1930s, and in 1981 it was sold to Mercedes Benz.  This sale left CF with a huge bundle of cash and one of the first ideas for its use was the Con-Way model for regional trucking. There were 5 regionals all operating models that reflected their geographic roots, Western, Central, Eastern (closed in the early 90s)and then a few years later Con-Way South East and finally Southwest. 

I spent the next 11 years with some of the greatest people in the trucking industry building a company and a brand in the Western US. After my departure in 1995, the regional carriers began to exchange freight and compete in the transcontinental market. 

The Con-Way brand became one of the great stories in business, nearly $6 billion in revenue, 30,000 employees and a Fortune 500 Corporation.  The truck operations are only part of the CNW Corp, Menlo Logistics was formed with some of the same cash from the sale of Freightliner.  I can assure you in those early days of the business cycle no one could have imagined the heights the “Con-Way Dream” would reach.  I am also sure no one could have ever seen it ending as it did last week in the purchase and rebranding as XPO,  a footnote in XPOs history.   It is important to remember the story of its real start up goes back to the design of Freightliner truck body combined with the CF trucking knowledge and support to its startup.   For me more is going away than just a brand; it’s a history and a case study of business development.

LTL is a tough one to integrate ask the management at YRC.  The history of LTL industry companies being merged or acquired is full of ugly stories.  There are still a lot of unanswered questions.  Will XPO be able to improve the performance in an asset based business?   Will XPO run dual business segments, one asset and one non asset? 

Regardless of the outcome I was proud to be a part of a team that changed the LTL world.

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Laboratory Director, Not-for-Profit Hospital in Los Angeles County -

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Human Resources - Recruitment Manager, Pediatric Hospital in Southern California

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