Ashley Furniture Industries has been running its own private transportation fleet for almost 50 years in order to assist guarantee that its home furnishing products reach retail locations effectively and on schedule.
The furniture company has been growing that fleet in recent years in order to strengthen its supply chain against disruptions, rising shipping costs, and fierce competition to employ and retain drivers. This expansion has come about both organically and through acquisitions.
Ashley Distribution Services, its transportation subsidiary, has grown over the years to become one of the biggest private trucking fleets in North America.
ADS is a private and for-hire carrier that specializes in multistop delivery of large-parcel, floor-loaded, non-palletized goods.
“We were founded in 1974, during a period when outsourcing led to product cross-docking and unpredictability in delivery,” stated Cole Bawek, vice president of public relations and communications for the company. We can provide our clients with a special value proposition by internalizing our transportation requirements. We can cut expenses by delivering goods to merchants more quickly and effectively.
While some retail clients can manage a full truckload, he noted that many others are smaller retailers that are unable to accept a full truckload and require assistance moving the furniture inside their establishments.
“We have total control over the transportation process because we handle our own freight,” Bawek continued. “We don’t need to rely on other providers to make sure our products are handled safely and delivered on schedule. We are able to give our customers outstanding service and create enduring relationships built on dependability and trust because of this degree of control and accountability.
Ashley Furniture acquired the Pacific Northwest division of Wilson Logistics, a trucking and logistics firm with its headquarters located in Springfield, Missouri, in 2021, significantly growing its fleet operations.
According to Bawek, “this [acquisition] allowed us to introduce retail truck sales, drayage, lease operations, and a student truck driver program.” The purpose of it was to expand Ashley’s for-hire business and broaden her clientele.
After that transaction, ADS currently has 28 straight trucks, 5,088 trailers, and 1,520 tractors in its fleet.
Arcadia, Wisconsin-based Ashley is ranked No. 22 on the Transport Topics Top 100 Private Carriers list, which is a ranking of the biggest private fleets in North America according to the number of tractors they own.
ADS drivers perform three main functions in order to satisfy the demands of Ashley’s clients as well as its manufacturing and distribution sites.
The company’s truckload drivers travel from Advance, North Carolina; Arcadia, Wisconsin; Ecru, Mississippi; and Leesport, Pennsylvania, to key industrial and distribution areas, moving no-touch goods. Additionally, they manage the bulk of ADS’s freight-for-hire operations, which involve transporting raw materials or freight for other businesses back to Ashley’s manufacturing plants.
Less-than-truckload or multistop drivers from ADS manage deliveries to several sites and help with furniture unloading at retail establishments.
Straight truck drivers, often known as shuttle or local drivers, transport furniture to several sites every day.
According to Bawek, every one of these driver positions is distinct and made to meet the particular requirements of Ashley’s clients.
Every function also benefits from the diverse abilities, tastes, and knowledge of professional drivers. While some choose to work for the company as employees, others decide to lease late-model equipment from the company and conduct business as independent contractors.
“Our drivers are our brand ambassadors, representing our company and values. They are more than just drivers,” Bawek stated. “We consider them to be the final point of contact with customers and the face of our business.”
According to Bawek, ADS outfits its vehicles with communication equipment so that clients can receive real-time information on their shipments, hence improving accountability and transparency all the way through the delivery process.
ADS has expanded while keeping safety as its top priority.
Ashley Distribution Services won the ATA President’s Trophy for safety in the 25 million to 100 million mile category in April at the Safety, Security & Human Resources National Conference and Exhibition, which was organized by American Trucking Associations. Winners of the President’s Trophy are assessed according to their programs, outreach efforts in the community, and safety records.
Based on the company’s track record of highway safety, ADS was also awarded a first-place Fleet Safety Award in the over 10 million miles category.
John Leighty, executive vice president of distribution and transportation at ADS, said in a statement, “We are extremely proud that year after year we are recognized for our ambassadors’ safe driving and contributions to the trucking industry.” As the first point of contact for every customer and the face of our company, we refer to our drivers as ambassadors. Without the effort and commitment of the whole Ashley Distribution team, these honors would not be achievable.