United Warehouse Transportation, along with parent company United Warehouse & Transit Logistics, is riding an impressive wave of success over the past 18 months.
Near the end of 2011, UWT acquired a small local transportation company and formed United Warehouse Transportation, with projected annual revenues of $895,000. By the end of 2012, that number had grown to $6 million, and company CEO Chris Williams expects it to top $10 million by the summer. “The success of both companies is really driven by three things: family, excellence and growth,” Williams said. “The Ozier family acquired UWT in 1994, and UWT has been a family-owned business since the 1930s.”
The growth means more local jobs. UWT currently employs about 160 people, up from a team of 100 one year ago, and Williams expects to have more than 200 employees by the end of the second quarter. UWT’s fleet has more than tripled in size during the past year, growing from eight trucks and eight trailers to 24 trucks and nearly 50 trailers now. Williams expects to have as many as 50 trucks by the end of the year.
UWT’s transportation side directly handles transport in a 500-mile radius that includes New Orleans to the south and Chicago to the north, and the company brokers out the majority of its business beyond to places like the West Coast. Recruiting the right people has been vital to UWT’s recent run. UWT employee John Jones is responsible for developing new clients and bringing new business to Memphis. “It’s an exciting time here, everyone is involved, and that excitement carries through to our customers. With a young management team here at UWT, the potential is awesome,” said Jones, who has 27 years of experience in the industry.
Jones just returned from Charlotte, N.C., where he signed a substantial new retail client for the company. The name of the client is confidential, but Jones did point out that the deal ensures the client will open one of its largest startup facilities here later this year. “The business design is flexible enough that we can do anything we need to do to accommodate new customers. Senior management is committed to providing the management team with the resources we need to develop the clientele,” he said.
During its recent surge, UWT’s client list has grown to more than 30 manufacturers, including new client FedEx and a diverse range of brands and products like Energizer batteries, Chic razors, Toyota automotive products, an assortment of commercial building products, tire materials, towels, light bulbs and plastic surgical gloves. “It’s a broad range of products. We do not specialize in any one segment,” Williams said. Jones is also working with the Port Authority of New Orleans to drum up new business. “We have a lot of freight going south, and they are working with us to get some business coming north,” Jones said.
UWT Logistics, involved with warehousing activities and operating more than 1 million square feet of space locally, is nearing capacity. “We are just about completely full and will be growing into some new space later this year, so it is exciting and fun,” Williams said.
UWT Logistics operates five facilities in the Mid-South, including a 500,000-square-foot Whitehaven location and more than 600,000 square feet of space at sites in South Memphis. As company revenues continue to grow, the company plans to reinvest in communities like Whitehaven and South Memphis. Williams attributes much of the recent success to the family environment that is fostered by the company. Employees enjoy a reward sharing program that features gifts, gift certificates, and special parties for staff members.
The company also provides educational opportunities for its employees by partnering with the University of Memphis to develop curriculum for UWT University, where team members can take classes after work from the U of M to receive GED and/or college credits in areas like career development, language skills, health and wellness, family counseling, legal issues and immigration. “There are many very impoverished areas of the city, and that’s why we as a company are so driven to help our employees receive educational options that will help lead to better paying jobs,” Williams said.