Moran Logistics will do “whatever it takes” to exceed customer expectations and provide them with additional profitability. Dan Harvey reports on how the family-owned, enterprise has evolved into a leading warehousing, distribution and inventory management service provider.
Moran Logistics Services is all about transformation. The Watsontown, Pa.-based company has engineered strategic purchases of emptied-out buildings – grim, deserted testaments to defunct businesses – and revitalized the structures, transforming them into useful warehousing and distribution facilities. In turn, this redevelopment helped transform a depressed region into one where a renewed job base now exists.
In the process, Moran Logistics has transformed the concept of warehousing and even transformed itself. Founded in 1975, and operating from the Watsontown location, the company began as a plant support warehousing operation. Now, beyond providing a place for manufacturers to store their goods, the company offers a variety of valuable add-on services. As a result, Moran became a premier logistics provider. This self-transformation is ongoing and reflected by its continuing development. In 2005, the company began three major construction projects in central Pennsylvania (at White Deer, Williamsport, and Sunbury) and expanded its corporate headquarter to increased its overall size and capabilities.
“We provide an outsourcing of business services to U.S. manufacturers by allowing them to focus on their core competencies,” says Lawrence Volper, Moran’s director of business development, explaining his company’s mission. “We occupy an important place in the supply chain, as our warehousing initiatives enable us to perform ‘value-added services’ to the captive product at an appropriate stage in that chain.”
Ultimately, these services transform Moran Logistics Services customers into more efficient and profitable enterprises.
”Whatever It Takes”
As far as services, Moran has embraced a “Whatever it Takes” philosophy. Simply stated, the company will do whatever it can to help customers increase their profitability. It offers centrally located warehousing, reliable distribution and transportation solutions, as well as specialized services specifically designed for customers who face complex daily challenges within their high-speed markets.
As Moran Logistic Services grew, its customers began to perceive the company as a “one-stop” resource that fulfills their multiple needs. “We have honed the skills of packaging, labeling and mixing of product and we will always invest in the equipment and technology needed to perform new and specific applications,” says Volper.
Specific value-added services include pick-and-pack, shrink wrapping, re-labeling, re-palletizing, record retention, transloading, all of which take place inside Moran facilities. “What differentiates us from other warehousing operations is that we are truly ‘full service,’” says Volper.
Moran’s differentiation lies with its willingness to invest in the equipment, capabilities, and specifically, the technology for providing solutions to its customers. For example, to enhance basic warehousing and distribution services, Moran has responded to needs with the focused capacity for rigging, machine storage, and HAZMAT storage, and done so with specialized training, state-of-the-art loading docks, and an overhead crane capacity of up to 10 tons.
The company has implemented clamp, fork and slip-sheet attachments for its fleet of 5,000-pound. quick disconnect equipment. Additionally, for safety and efficiency, all of its warehouses are equipped with advanced and security systems, including a central alarm system and video monitoring.
Information Technology Investment
The sensitive expense focus for consumer product manufacturers/distributors today is in their supply chain effectiveness. Considerable money can be saved and inventory levels reduced if a system will allow the transparency for advanced tracking and monitoring of merchandise. After one year studying the best in field, the executives at Moran chose the SSA Global 4000 Warehouse Management System. Implementation of the 4000 WMS meant customization for data metric capture on site at Moran’s facilities in order to validate solutions for current and future Moran customers’ warehouse management needs. Functions include: receiving, put-away, replenishment, order estimation and scheduling, picking to order, shipping (including documentation), labeling process, performance measuring, reporting requirements, billing and processing, kitting and process flow. These competencies of the warehouse management system allow it to function for retaining and accessing information on demand.
Moran fulfills its customers’ transportation needs via truck fleet and rail service. “Rails are advantageous for certain customers, such as paper manufacturers, for instance,” explains Volper. “The rails bring rolls of pulp into the warehouse, where they can be held over, and then our trucks distribute the rolls to local manufacturers.”
The truck fleet covers a 300-mile radius, and Moran provides national service through LTL carriers. It certainly has the necessary infrastructure: the company boasts nearly two million square feet of industrial real estate strategically located near major highways and rail systems.
Moran can also provide customers with individualized options such as complete build-to-suit warehousing solutions. Its experienced construction and engineering professionals can create a warehousing facility to fit a customer’s exact specifications, providing everything from soil erosion control engineering to the acquisition of government permits.
Customers benefiting from Moran’s services and capabilities include many Fortune 500 corporations. Its client list includes companies such as Del Monte, P&G, ConAgra, Corning and PPG.
A Family Enterprise
Moran Logistics Services was founded by John D. “Jack” Moran, Sr., who started the company with a vision to take existing, unused facilities and make them viable to the communities where these buildings are located. “Jack entered the region to make infrastructure purchases,” recalls Volper. “Specifically, he wanted to buy the big buildings that had been left standing empty as a result of the offshoring of manufacturing. He wanted to rehab them and use them for warehousing.”
He initiated the hugely successful enterprise with a single factory in Watsontown. After John D. Moran, Jr. joined his father in the business in 1987, the company experienced substantial growth and expanded into more than 1.8 million square feet of warehousing and distribution facilities. “John built upon the business direction that his father had initiated,” says Volper. “Along that established trajectory, he spent more money rehabbing the facilities to a greater extent, developed new warehouses, and marketed both old and new with a third-party warehousing initiative. As a result, more business became interested in these newer facilities.”
Other elements that spurred company growth was development of incubator facilities for smaller companies; their strategic locations made these companies very accessible to major highway routes, and to the Norfolk Southern railroad line. “With the increasing interest in placing truck transportation onto rail, the rail line complimented our development,” says Volper.
Today the company includes five major locations, all sited in the same central Pennsylvania region, three of which were developed in the past year. The Watsontown facility now includes more than 1 million square feet of storage facilities, with 72 loading docks with automatic dock plates. In addition, it offers the central Pennsylvania region its only indoor rail access, which simplifies the distribution process with easy cross-dock unloading and modern indoor siding.
One of the main advantages of Watsontown’s indoor rail service is that it provides up to five boxcars that can be loaded and unloaded in a sheltered environment. This offers additional protection to customers’ valuable commodities. Moreover, with the current supply-and-cost fuel situation, rail transportation provides a viable transportation alternative.
The facility also offers 80,000 square feet of cool space, state-of-the-art, 30-foot-clear new buildings with high-density sprinkler systems, and warehousing by the piece, pallet, or square foot.
Like Watsontown, the Hughesville facility offers a fleet of quick-connect equipment. Also, its 12 loading docks with automatic dock plates facilitate smooth and safe distribution from truck to warehouse.
As more and more industries became interested in what Moran had to offer, expansion became mandatory. As such, the company added locations in nearby White Deer, Sunbury, and Williamsport. The White Deer location represents a substantial rehabilitation of a 170,000-square-foot warehouse. “The building became empty a year ago,” says Volper. “We picked it up with the intent to make it a warehousing facility. Now, we have it totally leased out to Thermal Process Solutions, and they have 150 new jobs created there.”
The Sunbury location, a refurbished, 128,000-square-foot facility, provides a north/ south link to U.S. Interstate15, a “quickway” to Canada. The building was originally owned by Newell Rubbermaid, and Moran has expanded the space for an existing customer and is preparing the rest of the facility for food grade storage. Amenities include four rail doors, two rail transload silos, 10 dock doors, and a fenced trailer lot.
The new Williamsport facility is a state-of-the-art, high bay, 250,000-square-foot distribution center. “Construction was completed earlier this year, and it’s now fully occupied,” reports Volper.
Volper reports that, in the past three years, Moran Logistics has experienced 50-percent growth in business. “Because of that growth, we now have the capacity for even more growth,” he adds. “What we did last year, as far as expanding our facilities, effectively indicates what we are capable of doing for the future.”
To underscore his point, Volper reminds that all of the major recent developments were accomplished simultaneously.
Along with its increasing size comes increasing versatility. For instance, Moran Logistics is ready to respond to the needs of major U.S. food distributors, and it is handling more and more commodity products. It all fits in with the company’s avowed objective: to do whatever it takes.