Tidewater Transit builds success methodically, deliberately
Oct 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By Charles E Wilson
As the Saying goes: Slow but steady wins the race. That certainly has been true for Tidewater Transit Co Inc, a $54 million tank truck carrier based in Kinston, North Carolina.
For nearly 60 years, the management team at Tidewater Transit has charted a very deliberate course to success. They focused initially on providing outstanding bulk transport service to a relatively small group of core customers and built a diverse operation in the process. It's a strategy that continues to pay dividends today.
“We show absolute and total dedication to our customers,” says John O McNairy, Tidewater Transit president. “Along with being customer oriented, we're very flexible. We provide the service they want, whether that means hauling liquid chemicals or dry bulk materials. We also offer logistics services, and we run truck-rail transloading facilities. We're constantly expanding services to meet the changing needs of our customers, and we always try to provide the very best equipment for the job.”
The company that evolved into Tidewater Transit commenced operation in 1949. It was established with $5,000 capital by C Felix Harvey and Charles Smith to service an agricultural business belonging to Harvey. Smith was the truck driver, his wife, Nina, took care of the books, and initial cargoes included gasoline, anhydrous ammonia, and fertilizer.
From the very beginning, they built a lean operation with a family atmosphere, and they focused on avoiding debt without sacrificing the ability to meet evolving customer needs. These factors formed the basis for a company culture that continues to drive success for the carrier.
“We've tried to maintain a family environment here, because we believe that brings out the best in our employees,” McNairy says. “We also believe that avoiding debt has been one of our biggest assets. Our drive toward excellence in customer service is reflected in the fact that we have been a partner in the American Chemistry Council's Responsible Care program for a number of years.”
Today, the tank truck carrier that Harvey and Smith started ranks among the top 40 in the United States. The carrier runs 350 company-owned tractors, a handful of owner-operator tractors, and 780 trailers. Equipment is dispersed among 14 terminals in eight states.
Tidewater Transit has expanded well beyond its eastern North Carolina base. While most of the terminals are in the South and Mid-south, the carrier serves customers throughout the Continental United States, as well as parts of Canada. Interline service is provided into Mexico.
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