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Trucking firm to open Hagerstown terminal

February 17, 1999|By BRENDAN KIRBY and KIMBERLY YAKOWSKIs

A multimillion-dollar trucking firm plans to open a terminal in Hagerstown that initially will employ about 60 people, company officials said Tuesday.

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American Freightways, which had nearly $1 billion in revenue last year, will open the terminal in the former PIE building off U.S. 11 near Hagerstown Regional Airport, a company executive said.

The 35,000-square-foot PIE terminal will require minor renovations.

Dennis Beal, vice president of physical assets for the Harrison, Ark.-based company, said the terminal will employ mostly drivers, as well as mechanics, clerical staff and managers. Starting annual salaries will range from $35,000 to $50,000 depending on the job, he said.

Beal said the company anticipates employment to rise to about 100 people within 18 months.

The terminal will serve 12 load transfer stations the company is opening in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The "customer centers" receive and ship everything from raw materials to finished products.

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"I'm glad they decided to locate here in Hagerstown. It was an existing terminal so that will bring jobs back to benefit the community," said Washington County Commissioners President Gregory L. Snook.

By opening the centers and the Hagerstown terminal, Beal said the firm would be able to increase its service area to 30 states.

American Freightways is a "less-than-truckload" trucking company, which means that it ships multiple products on the same truck.

For instance, an American Freightways truck might carry raw materials to several different manufacturing companies. Or it might haul a shipment of shoes to one company, a load of hammers to another and a stack of plastics to another all on the same trip.

Beal said this makes the firm attractive to companies that do not need to ship an entire truckload of product, which is increasingly the case in an era of "just-in-time" replenishment.

"They're a good company and are well-known in their field," said Tom Riford of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

Beal said the company chose Hagerstown because of its proximity to Interstates 70 and 81.

"It gives you the ability to reach all those locations within the time frame we need," he said.

American Freightways was founded in 1982 with 100 employees and $405,000 in revenue. Over the last 16 years, it has experienced steady growth.

"Phenomenal growth," Beal said.

Today, the company has 13,200 employees, 24,200 pieces of equipment and 223 customer centers. Beal said he expects revenues to exceed $1 billion this year.

"As we go forward and grow, we continue to look for opportunities to expand," he said. "Our customers actually demand it."

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