Don’t let the name mislead you. While Courier Express, headquartered in Marietta, started out as an Atlanta-area express delivery service, the company has grown far beyond those roots both geographically and in the services it provides. In addition to the courier business, which has grown to be one of the largest in the U.S. today, Courier Express offers parcel distribution, freight and warehousing services in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Its logistics arm, CX Logistics, provides specialized delivery services throughout the U.S. for its national customers.
Courier Express was founded in 1985 and purchased five years later by William (Bill) Messerly, now chairman emeritus of the company. “My dad was an entrepreneur who was tired of the building business and wanted to get into something new,” explains Jim Messerly, company president. Jim and his brother, Jack, who serves as CEO, have been with the business since its earliest years, and are now equal co-owners. Jack oversees the accounting, legal and human resources side of the business, while Jim concentrates primarily on the relational aspects, including sales and operations.
In the three decades they’ve owned Courier Express, the Messerlys have guided the company to tremendous growth. “When my father bought the company, we were doing about $1 million in business. In 2020, our estimated revenues will be about $135 million,” said Jim Messerly.
While running a family business can be challenging at times, the brothers have found ways to make the company successful while maintaining a good relationship. “We work hand in hand, and keep figuring it out every day,” he said.
CUSTOMERS AS PARTNERS
Courier Express serves a variety of customers, and most of its courier and delivery work is within a 100 to 200-mile radius of its facilities.
On the courier side of the business, the largest percentage of clients comes from the medical industry, with couriers delivering and picking up samples from hospitals and medical labs.
Courier Express’s distribution customers cover various vertical markets like pharmaceutical, health care, meal kits, home improvement and office supplies, where it offers same-day and next-day delivery options out of its 30 warehouse distribution locations throughout the Southeast.
The company’s freight division serves as a dedicated provider for its diverse customer base. It also provides line-hauls that help support its distribution network.
In order to provide the best possible service, Courier Express looks for a special type of customer. “We don’t want a customer just for tomorrow, we don’t just want an account,” Messerly explained. “We’re looking for long-term partners and relationships, so that we can work with them and feel that there’s value added for us and for them.”
The company’s customers appreciate the way it does business. In fact, Courier Express opened CX Logistics at least in part because of customer demand, Messerly said. The company’s national customers wanted to enjoy the same high level of service that the company provides them in the Southeast throughout the United States. Through CX Logistics, Courier Express works with vetted partner carriers in other parts of the country to provide the kind of turnkey services that its customers are looking for.
TECH FOR GREATER TRANSPARENCY
For the courier business, Courier Express uses about 1,200 independent contractors who provide their own transportation. On the freight side, the company leases 90 trucks of varying sizes, and employs about the same number of drivers to keep them on the road.
When it comes to the workforce, Courier Express faces a double challenge. It’s not only truck drivers who are in high demand; the independent contractors who serve as couriers are in short supply as well.
To keep its business moving, Courier Express recruits both drivers and contractors “aggressively and constantly, and in every way we possibly can, from driver referrals, to ads in every type of publication and on social media,” Messerly said. Throughout its businesses, Courier Express employs a total of 425 people.
Messerly said that technology has been key in helping keep track of people and activities in its diverse businesses. “There isn’t any one technology solution that fits our mold, so we have created an in-house development team with four active programmers. They are constantly developing products for us,” he explained. “The core operating system of this technology is Datatrac, but we’ve created modules off of that, which allows us to more effectively serve our customers.”
Courier Express’s technology provides the kind of business intelligence that customers want today, including real-time data process and tracking software that keeps them informed about deliveries. It includes features like electronic barcode scanning, digital signature capture and real-time driver route updates.
“Customers want transparency in their shipments today, so being able to provide that data is critical to the company’s success. Companies rely on customer feedback, and additionally our customers are reliant on data. They assume that if the data looks good, the customer experience is going to go well,” Messerly said.
Courier Express has enjoyed its experience with GMTA since it joined the association in the early 1990s. As a GMTA officer for the past six years, Messerly has been contributing to the association’s important work, and will become GMTA’s chair for 2021-2022.
He looks forward to the new year for Courier Express and for his upcoming term as GMTA’s chair. “The past 12 months impacted our industry like nothing we have seen in recent memory and shed light on all of us as an essential business sector,” Messerly said. “The critical work happening up and down the roads is keeping America healthier and safer. We believe the best is yet to be and we are excited for our industry and ready to tackle 2021.”