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Next logistical step

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Two tractor-trailers prepare to leave the yard at Charles W. Karper Inc. in Winchester. The truck on the left is loaded with columns and beams headed for a casino under construction in New Jersey. The truck at right carries axles and is headed for a hospital construction site in Pennsylvania. The firm just launched a logistics and brokerage business in Winchester. Dennis Grundman/Daily

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Rick Brannon, an independent tractor-trailer owner, cranks a trailer jack at the Charles W. Karper Inc. yard in Winchester. Dennis Grundman/Daily

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.

1 Comment

Thanks for the article about Karper Trucking. Just for the record, my parents Ruth and Martin (Marty) Boppe moved from Hagerstown, MD to start and manage Karper's Trucking business in Winchester in 1943. Charles Karper's business was located in Chamberburg, Pa but Marty grew the business in Winchester from 1943 until his retirement in about 1977. Marty drove a truck but with Ruth sold Karper's Trucking service to National Fruit, Shenandoah Coop, Fred L.Glaize Apples and many other businesses in the area. They hauled apples for export to the piers of New York, vinegar & canned goods throughout West Va, Pa and the mid-Atlantic area.

In about 1966, Marty started doing business with Shockey's pre-stressed concrete and provided specialized hauling of the massive concrete members. For instance, some bridge beams were 120' long and Marty would walk by the trailer to steer the tandem wheels around corners and cloverleafs on interstate highways. They also hauled the entire concrete roof for RFK Stadium in DC. It was fascinating to see Kaper's grow into this specialized hauling. Charles Karper didn't ake long to decide the business was worth buying specialized trailers to haul the concrete beams.

All of this time, Marty who had an 8th grade education with the help of his wife Ruth managed and grew Karper's business in Winchester. Charles Karper was a wonderful, caring man who appreciated the work that my parents did and he treatedf them well. He would come to Winchester once a month for many, many years to meet with my parents and see how the "Winchester-end " of the business was doing. After Shockey's business increased so dramatically, Charles had his brother, Paul Karper from Chambersburg, come to manage the specialized hauling. Paul never moved to Winchester but worked there Monday-Friday. Marty continued to manage the "all other" side of the business and worked tirelessly with Paul to accomodate the complicated service required by Shockey's Pre-Stressed Concrete.

Marty died in 1994 and Ruth who was the office manager died in 2002. I am one of two sons and live in Cornelius, NC. My brother, Lee Boppe lives in Winchester. Some of my fondest memories are being around those big trucks and the many hours and trips that I spent with my Dad on those trucks. I have hundredths of wonderful picture s of Karper's trucks. My brother and I both learned to drive the big trucks at the age of 15. We have always been proud of our parents, Ruth and Marty, and how successful they helped to make Karper's Trucking even though both only had an 8th grade education.

I Want to again thank Alison Laurio for this article. I have an over-sized 1950 paper-clamp on my refrigerator door that say Karper's Trucking as a reminder of my parent's hard work and the very fine man, Charles W. Karper.

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