By Alison Laurio
WINCHESTER -- It all began on Christmas Day in 1929 with one truck delivering milk in the Chambersburg, Pa., area.
Now the third generation of trucking firm Charles W. Karper Inc., which opened a second terminal in WinchesteView imager in the mid-1950s and incorporated around 1970, has launched Karper Logistics Inc., a frView imageeight brokerage and logistics company in Winchester.
That meant moving its local terminal to 275 Lenoir Drive, where it has a two-bay truck garage on about four acres and gained about 600-square-feet of office space for the new enterprise, said Thomas Smith, president of the trucking business and president and treasurer of Karper Logistics.
"We want to be two-fold to help accent the current business -- keeping trucks loaded up and keeping profitability up," he said. "We also wanted something to stand on its own as a freight broker and freight logistics business."
Jack MacDonald, vice president and secretary of Karper Logistics, said the move was completed in November and business is rolling along.
"We are working as a brokerage right now," he said. "We're up and running, we're getting in and getting our own niche started."
Smith said an operations manager and a person handling dispatch and sales already are on the job.
The logistics business will allow the company to expand its area of operations, currently the Mid-Atlantic region.
"We can use it when the load is out of our normal range of travel," Smith said. "We have a customer base, and we have a carrier base. The other companies there will carry the loads for us."
Smith said booking and logistics involve the customer base, determining their needs and lanes, or shipping routes, and finding companies to haul those loads.
"We're looking to grow and expand our operations pretty much up and down the East Coast," he said.
The plan is to grow the logistics firm to five employees, then open another office in another state, continuing expansion along the five-worker, new-office template.
"We also want agents throughout the U.S.," Smith said. "Long term, we'll just continue moving on."
The trucking company carved its niche in the construction industry and oversized loads.
"Our company is primarily flatbed and other specialized equipment," Smith said. "We haul a tremendous amount of precast, prestressed concrete. We pretty much cater to the building industry -- large projects."
Building-material hauls are about 80 percent of business, with about 50 percent going out of Winchester, he said.
"At one time, we were up to 80 power units -- that's company trucks and owner-operators," Smith said. "We're down to about 55 right now. The recession started to catch up with us about two years ago.
"For some reason, the larger construction sites -- at least the part we're with -- didn't start taking the huge hits as soon as home-building."
He said job bidding shows an industry that's picking up.
"It's a good indication," Smith said. "It is on the rise again. Things are coming back."
Oversized load, by definition, varies from state to state.
"Typically, an oversized load is anything over 102 inches wide or would weigh more than 50,000 pounds; that's where it starts at," Smith said. "We can carry any width and up to 100 feet long and 80 to 90 thousand pounds of cargo."
Examples are a large piece of machinery, like a wide bulldozer ; 70- or 80-foot steel beams; and precast, prestressed concrete that typically is 60 feet long, 12 feet wide and weighs about 60,000 pounds, he said.
The booking and logistics business will tap into the oversized niche, and a new website is in the works.
"It's for the future," MacDonald said.
At Karper, that means a fourth generation.
Karper has always been family owned and operated. Charles W. Karper, the company founder, was Smith's grandfather. Smith's father and uncle were the second generation. Now the trucking business includes MacDonald, Smith's brother-in-law, as one of two vice presidents. Smith's cousin, Jonathan Miller, is the other.
Smith's son-in-law works in the trucking business, and MacDonald's son, Andrew, is one of two employees at the logistics firm.
"It's a family affair, that's for sure," MacDonald said.