Rocky River-based World Group adds capacity to trucking business


World Group in Rocky River is not worried about a new trucking company opening in its markets.

That’s because Bristol Transportation, launched last fall, is part of its portfolio.

World Group is a transportation and logistics company operating a family of brands including ContainerPort and now Bristol Transportation. Companies work in areas such as trucking, warehousing and freight forwarding.

Bristol essentially “mirrors” ContainerPort, said Jonathan Urban, executive vice president of trucking operations at ContainerPort. And the company markets Bristol in areas where ContainerPort already has a presence.

Urban said Bristol would serve as an additional option under the global group umbrella for customers and drivers. He said the Global Group sees this approach as a way “to bring more capacity into an already tight capacity market”.

The trucking industry has seen “significant growth” in recent years, said Tom Balzer, president and CEO of the Ohio Trucking Association in Westerville, of which ContainerPort is a part.

When the economy is growing, the trucking industry is doing well. The demand is strong and the supply is often there overseas, he said.

“It’s the duct in the middle that’s really stretched to its thinnest right now,” Balzer said.

The trucking industry had faced a shortage of drivers for at least a decade before the pandemic, he said. And it takes time for shipments to bounce back from disruptions like weather events or protests at the Canadian border. Various supply chain and labor challenges may require “creative business structures” in the industry, Balzer said.

Urban said the shortage of drivers in the trucking industry is a big factor in the company’s launch of Bristol.

“We had to find another option to increase our capacity,” he said.

Bristol operates two terminals in Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina. Urban said there are plans to open three more locations in 2022, including one in Chicago later this month. Decisions about where to open sites are based on customer demand.

The company doesn’t yet have a trucking operation in the Cleveland market, Urban said, but its back-end systems and services are there, as are ContainerPort’s. The real difference lies in external marketing and in the local autonomy given to each site.

“We like to position ourselves as a national company run by local people,” Urban said.

Although ContainerPort and Bristol terminals are part of the same large company, each location will be different. They may offer different driver compensation models, Urban said, or focus on a different niche, such as long-haul freight versus regional freight. Managers at each terminal are able to manage their location as if it were their own, he said, unless there is a security issue. They are able to make hiring decisions and select freight.

Having multiple terminals with varying pay scales, benefits and approaches in the same market could help Bristol and ContainerPort attract more drivers overall, as these different approaches could be appealing to different drivers.

The market really only allows one trucking company to get that big, Urban said. Drivers working for ContainerPort or Bristol are independent contractors – small business owners who own their own trucks and pay for their own fuel. They don’t want to get lost in a big business. Keeping the terminals smaller allows drivers to be an “average fish in an average pond,” Urban said.


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