When my dad purchased First Call Trucking & Courier from his good-friend, Joey Bethoney, co-owner of Bay State Taxi, much of the freight he hauled was bulk mail that his drivers would pick-up from local mail-fulfillment houses such as Quest Mailing, Spire Printing, Arlington Lithograph, Boston Mailing and Channel Mail (to name a few). All of the companies I referenced above are either no longer in business, or have drastically reduced the amount of mail they ship out. If they survived the advent of the internet and email marketing, it’s because they adapted and added another element with some sort of sustainable competitive advantage to their wheelhouse.
For a same-day, local truck/courier company in Boston in the 90’s, business was good. There was a number of highly profitable mail fulfillment houses in Massachusetts that were creating advertisement mailers for the local universities, credit card companies, health insurance companies and more. This mail had to be picked up and shipped to the bulk mail processing center located in South Boston. But as this industry dried up, First Call Trucking, like many other truckers in the area, had to adapt as well.
Conversely, much of the work we are doing now revolves around asset recovery for companies such as DMD Recovery Systems (www.dmdsystems.com). This work involves going into local offices and picking up all of their outdated hard drives, laptops, data processing units, and even television sets. We record the serial numbers on the devices, and crush the hard drives on the computers using a special “data crushing device” (that’s actually what we call it). Then we bring the freight back to our warehouse and pack /palletize it for shipping on a line-haul carrier. The freight is shipped off to either be re-used elsewhere or recycled.
This new work of today is more labor intensive than the old mail deliveries of old, but if you want to survive in an ever-changing economy, you have to adapt. After all, that’s capitalism at its finest.
Unfortunately for Joe Bethoney, the original founder of First Call Trucking, and the man who sold my dad the company all those years ago, his other company, Bay State Taxi, has now met the fate of some of the mail fulfillment houses I referenced above; this thanks to companies such as Uber and Lyft that are putting cab companies everywhere out of business. Technology is a hell of a thing. It can spur growth and innovation, and suddenly leave a formerly glorious “king” in a crumbling castle. The trick of it all, learning how to adapt to and keep up with changes in the economy. Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Mr. Darwin, sir, I could not agree more. Here’s to continued growth and adaptability in 2016 and beyond.