Mike's Book Club 2020
Old Dominion: Helping The World Keep Promises
Jeffery Rodengen Copyright 2011 Write Stuff Publications
They seemingly came out of nowhere in 2008 and became the hottest thing to hit the world of LTL trucking since FedEx Freight bought out American Freightways in 2001.
They climbed the JOC ladder of LTL Freight Carriers every year and in no time at all went from absolute bottom to almost top of the heap, there the hottest thing around since Elisha Cuthbert was in FHM Magazine in 2004.
Knocking other legacy carriers down and in some cases out. What was the "department store of transportation" CF is no more. However they did invent the LTL market pretty much, but as followers know CF was not the global transportation provider and department store, the real global department store of transportation and provider always has been and will be the TNT Company when it was under Australian ownership, we have a separate thread about TNT Company that pretty much will never have an end and go on forever, because the company was just so massive and huge, I couldn't get my arms around it. It was really good though that the worlds leading authority on TNT companies @R. Buron stepped in because TNT company was probably a bit more then I could chew.
Anyhow Old Dominon represents something that we haven't really talked about much, in my book club series and that's the new age of LTL trucking. Where companies like CF, Holland and Penn Yan Xpress formerly Conway Eastern Xpress gave up and handed the thrown over to the new kids on the block companies like FedEx Freight, Old Dominion and Saia.
Right now in my opinion the new age of LTL trucking is really in the hands of Old Dominion and Saia with Old Dominion leading the way, so without further delay, and before the new year, and the end of the decade we will start on our examination of how a little small time 1 truck company formed in the south east in 1934 and went through some pains in the 1990s and early 2000s grew to be a huge modern day LTL power house reshaped the entire industry and set the standard for the new age. Like it's predecessors of the past TNT Company and CF. had a role in setting the standard Old Dominion grabbed the torch and set the standard for the new age.
Join us for: OLD DOMINION HELPING THE WORLD KEEP PROMISES
Mikes Book Club 2020: Old Dominion Helping the World Keep Promises (2011)
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Old Dominion Chapter 1
(Old Time Banjo Music plays in the back ground)
Lillian Herbert the woman and eventually the mother of Old Dominion Freight Line started her life as a single woman working for the telephone company, she had no idea what would lie ahead, she hadn't met her husband Earl Congdon yet. Those two would eventually marry and not only have children of their own, but would also marry and birth out Old Dominion Freight Line. She really was the mother of the company, but she didn't know it yet that in 1934 that the little bit of money she had saved from working at the phone company would give birth to and grow up 77 years later to be a $1.9 Billion Dollar a year power house.
However it wasn't all peaches and cream at Old Dominion like any company they had there years of struggling, but things change and it's like pumping a well you just keep pumping that handle at first it's a couple drops, but once it starts flowing it starts flowing.
The Old Dominions battled economic change, government regulation and changing times and where companies like CF did not adapt to the times Old Dominion did and to a lesser extent there competitor Saia Motor Freight came out of the wreckage and ashes of the 2008 economic collapse to take there seat at the top of the heap. Every year YRC loses a little bit more ground and every year Saia and Old Dominion gain that ground.
YRC the company has been a mess since the merger in 2005. The ghosts of some of the TNT Companies lurk in the background. The top LTL Carrier in the country is FedEx Freight, FedEx Freight would eventually go on to be the successor of the TNT Companies. TNT company even though they technically are not around anymore, there ghosts still haunt the transportation world, because there was no outfit bigger, at the time. Now a days FedEx is king of the castle. Technically Con-Way was #2, but there buy out by XPO hasn't exactly gone off without a hitch and this has led the door wide open for companies like Old Dominion, Saia, Dayton Freight and Pitt-Ohio to come in and just crush it.
You know @bzinger asked me if CF was around today if they would still make it. Well the answer to that is probably not, not with Saia and Old Dominion and the other super regional carriers like Pitt Ohio, Dayton Freight and A. Duie Pyle just pulling more and more tonnage every year and gaining more and more ground. Not to mention big time national outfits like R&L Carriers which wasn't a big time national outfit not that long ago.
Yes the landscape sure has changed. But all those companies, Roadways, CF, Yellow, they are all the past.
Right now, we have the present and the future and Old Dominion is certainly the present for sure.
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I was only surprised at how quik things happened.Mike2633 Thanks this.
Old Dominion Chapter 1
Earl Congdon Sr was born July 20 1906 in Providence, Rhode Island. His father and mother Arthur and Ella Congdon were well off wealthy east coasters.
However Arthur Congdon Earl's father was a multi millionaire who invested a lot of his money in the stock market and in 1929 lost most of his $2 million dollars all gone bye bye bye bye.
He got his family through by selling pianos. His son Earl Sr who would be the father of Old Dominion Freight Line, always was into cars and motor bikes and loved racing and tinkering cars all through there Rhode Island community.
In 1927 Earl Sr decided that college was not of any interest to him and instead, him and a friend of his hopped on there motor bikes and took off. It's interesting how a single decision like that can change so much. You wouldn't think it, but this is decision in 1927 to go on a cross country motor cycle trip had a lasting impact 77 years later.
During the cross country motor cycle trip Earl Sr and his friend stopped just by chance at a church luncheon in Richmond, VA for a bite to eat and that's where it all changed.
Earl Sr, laid eyes on Lillian Herbert and said "Oh my, who is that?"
Lillian Herbert was a woman native to the great state of Virginia the state that I might ad is for lovers and that's where her and Earl Sr fell in love at that Church Luncheon on that afternoon in 1927.
Lillian was born in1909 and grew up on a farm just outside of Richmond, VA. At age 16 Lillian's father died from due to head injury that happened on his job as a street car operator. Lillian took a job as a telephone company operator at 16 to support the family and before the age of 19 she was climbing the telephone company ranks.
Lillian Congdon now who was the mother of Old Dominion Freightline was described by the Richmond News Leader News Paper as "A little slip of a thing, only 100 pounds and little more then 5ft tall."
A friend of there's and another company that hasn't gotten much note on here, but was a big time player in there day until they were bought out by UPS in 2006 and that company was Overnite Transport you may have heard of them. There trucks looked like this:
Overnite and Old Dominion came up around the same time in the same business in the same place. Harwood Cochran the founder of Overnite who by the way died not to to long ago, new the Congdons and he said Lillian Congdon was pretty, nice and tough as nails.
After Earl Sr met Lillian, Earl Sr returned to Rhode Island where he was struck by a car and spent time in the hospital where he was fitted for a prosthetic leg. Lillian came to visit Earl in the hospital a lot and in January of 1928 the two of them married after Earl was discharged from the hospital.
Earls family gave the new couple a brand new Chevy Roadster as a present for there wedding.
Old Dominion Chapter 1 Continued
So where are we at? Well so far we learned the story of how Earl and Lillian met they got married and now it's time for them to have a baby and that baby was Old Dominion Freight Line. So lets see what happens.
Old Dominion Chapter 1
When the Congdon's married they had very little money and no employment it was the great depression after all.
So to get through the depression the family bought a truck and did some trucking work, just to get through until Mr. Congdon could get a real better job. Well in 1932 Mr.Congdon fell asleep at the wheel and drove his truck into a bridge in Maryland and totaled the truck.
At that time Earl Jr was born in 1930 and Jack Congdon in 1933.
Earl worked a variety of jobs next, terminal manager for Virginia Motor Express which went out of business sometime in the 1930s and then sold cars for Packard for a short while until he lost that job.
Not sure of where to go or what to do, Mrs. Congdon said to Mr. Congdon, hey uh honey I have $1700 bucks saved up, why don't we buy another truck, and give this trucking thing another shot, will open a route from Richmond to Norfolk and that route from Richmond to Norfolk in 1934 conceived and gave birth to what is the modern day Old Dominion Freight Line.
Mr. Congdon drove the truck while Mrs. Congdon took orders on the telephone of there house and terminal on Cliff Ave in Richmond, VA.
Old Dominion was started with a single straight truck that they bought. Mr. Congdon drove and Mrs. Congdon worked the office and when Mr. Congdon couldn't drive, Mrs. Congdon drove. The first load the company hauled was a load of eggs in the summer of 1934 from Richmond to Norfolk. But change was on the horizon in a big way for the small trucking company *gasp*
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