Growing With Your Business, Whatever It Takes

ADL Delivery

ADL Delivery is a company unlike many others. At its core is an identity as a company that will expand with its clients, will ensure that any problem is solved, and works to develop business partners as opposed to just customers.

What started out as a Florida franchise for an automotive parts distribution company has grown to become a very successful family-owned and operated logistics company boasting one of the largest overnight delivery networks in the Southeast United States. Its customized logistics, warehousing and distribution services give the company a unique opportunity to become a ‘one stop shop’ for its clients’ logistics needs. What has been at the heart of ADL Delivery and why will this company continue to go from strength to strength?

Initially, the company was known as DSI, Dedicated Services Incorporated. In 1999, Mark McCallum purchased the franchise rights to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. He quickly brought his brother Charles in as a partner. This marked the beginning of the ADL Delivery story; however, the change of name would not happen right away. This business venture was a huge leap for the McCallums into a largely unknown market. Mark had previously worked as a parts manager for a car dealership in the Houston area and Charles worked as an I.T. Director for Shell. While the two men may have initially lacked experience in the distribution market, what they did have was the determination and drive to ensure that ADL Delivery would grow to become a driving force in the industry.

The company initially started by focusing solely on the automotive parts distribution industry. The partners saw enough growth and potential in the company to buy themselves out of the franchise in 2002, rebranding the company Advantage Delivery Logistics. However, in the company’s infancy, the challenges it faced proved difficult to overcome and potentially could have stopped ADL from becoming what it is today. While both Charles and Mark had tremendous credentials as professionals, a limited knowledge of the industry and to a certain degree, inexperience in running a business were proving to be stumbling blocks. The McCallum brothers were feeling frustrated, knowing that they were operating a company with such potential to expand, yet that expansion was proving elusive.

It was around this time that the McCallums reached out to Thomas D. Jowers with the offer of becoming a partner. This decision was due, in part, to Mr Jowers’ extensive experience in the industry. “For me it was a little bit different,” he shares. “I joined the military in 1989, left the army in the end of 1991. I got into logistics when I left. The thing that makes this story unique is that I was the first employee of the company that Mark and Charles decided to buy the franchise from. So I was working for the company that they purchased the franchise for and I trained them on how to do the business. When I decided that I wanted to do something different in about 2003, I resigned my position with them (DSI) and was offered a position as a partner with Mark and Charles in ADL.”

Company expansion

This decision highlights the determination that Charles and Mark had to expand their business. They understood that they needed to invest in expertise in order to ensure that ADL became an industry leader. Not only armed with the drive and ambition to make ADL Delivery a huge success, they now had the industry knowledge required to take the company to the next level. This involved branching out from the initial model of automotive distribution. “In the beginning it was one hundred percent automotive distribution, mostly for dealerships and manufacturers,” explains Thomas. “I had been in the business for so long, and I knew the market so well. I had been a logistics guy basically for my entire career. They brought me in to help to grow the business, to put us into different markets. I had previous knowledge of other verticals such as pool distribution and demand response and we did our best to break into those.”

This expansion brought with it a new set of challenges. With any company looking to grow its market share from a relatively small base, a lack of financial resources put considerable strain on ADL. “There was a significant financial burden obviously because, with the company not making money in those last few years, expansion had to be done strictly on the basis of what we had in the bank in order to get us to the next level… That is always going to be a challenge when you are trying to get to the next level.”

The perseverance paid off, though, and the desired expansion took ADL from providing distribution of automotive parts to offering a suite of services including fleet replacement, customized logistics, warehousing and distribution. By focusing on the needs of the client, the company can offer a tailor made program and, says Thomas, “we can tell you how many vehicles you need, what size those vehicles need to be, and the approximate delivery times to your customers through our customized logistics programs. With a combination of a dedicated logistics program and utilization of our regional network we can meet any delivery need.”

Future Growth

However, the company is not prepared to stand still in a market that is highly competitive. Thomas is steadfast and resolute that ADL Delivery needs to keep growing in order to maintain its standing in the industry. “There is one thing that we are not doing currently that we need to become part of,” he shares. “We have stayed away from residential delivery although residential is slowly but surely becoming the new vertical, the new market. There has always been residential delivery obviously, but we have focused on business to business. Now, with the footprint that we have, there are a lot of residential delivery companies like Amazon and WalMart that are looking for people that have that footprint. One of the biggest things, especially with e-commerce, is to do same day residential deliveries; at the moment, just about everything is overnight or next day.”

It is this willingness to push the boundaries of what it can offer that is at the heart of the company’s philosophy of, ‘Whatever It Takes.’ The single-minded determination to provide superior customer service rather than a rigid and costly service has helped ADL Delivery build and retain excellent working relationships with its partners. However, this philosophy goes beyond providing a service; it is more of an ethos that the company sticks to in every facet of its dealings. Thomas explains, “The philosophy that we are using as it relates to taking care of our customers is, ‘Whatever It Takes’ and knowing that it doesn’t matter what it takes to fix a problem. The most important thing in this industry is that you have a good name, and that you continue to maintain that good name.”

This inherent need to ensure that ADL Delivery provides a premium service is evidently one of the factors driving its high level of client retention. It is clear that ADL sees its customer as much more than that. “We don’t have customers as such, we have business partners,” says Thomas. “We grow with our clients. We don’t just arbitrarily go out and open a new market and then see what it is we can do in that market, or in that area. Our customers dictate where we go and how we expand.

“In my eyes, what sets us apart from everyone else is that we are not trying to build our business; we are trying to build our customers’ business. We determine their needs and we stay on top of those needs. We have that one on one communication. We are in touch with our customer. We see our customers regularly; they are like part of our family.”

In a family owned business, it is wonderful, yet almost natural that this spirit of connection and mutual gain forms the bedrock of the company ethos. With willingness to expand with their business partners, surely, the future is bright for ADL Delivery.

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