The "Purolator" name has a long and turbulent transport history attached to it. But for relative newcomers to the field, the name would likely elicit only blank stares.
The original Purolator operation in the United States disappeared in 1989, after the old Consolidated Freightways Inc. bought Emery Worldwide, which had acquired Purolator two years before. But after a lengthy hiatus, the Purolator brand is making a quiet return to the domestic market with what its U.S. boss says is a unique value proposition for U.S. shippers looking to expand cross-border trade with Canada.
The U.S. arm of Mississauga, Ontario-based Purolator Inc., Purolator International Inc. is angling for a large chunk of the nearly $8 billion-a- year market for transportation and logistics services moving from the United States to Canada. The model is built on combining the subsidiary's growing U.S. capabilities with the parent's core business of serving the transborder and intra-Canadian markets, according to John T. Costanzo, president of Purolator International.
"Our mission is selling Canadian distribution services to U.S. businesses," Costanzo said in an interview with DC Velocity. Costanzo said the subsidiary would also work with its parent to support Canadian companies looking to expand into the United States.
The U.S. unit has no plans to enter the domestic U.S. market, according to Costanzo.
Purolator's transport roots are deeply Canadian. The company was organized as Trans Canada Couriers Ltd., before being acquired in 1967 by Purolator, a U.S.-based air and oil filter maker, and rebranded as Purolator Courier Corp. On the day of Purolator Courier's sale to Emery, Purolator's Canadian operation was spun off to a Canadian private equity firm. In the early 1990s, the Canadian operation was sold to Canada Post, which today controls about 94 percent of the total company.
Purolator Inc. currently generates about $1.7 billion in annual revenue and has about a 30-percent share of the intra-Canada small-package market, according to Costanzo. Its Canadian network is bigger than the combined networks of FedEx Corp. and UPS Inc., which Costanzo said are Purolator's two chief rivals.
The breadth of the Canadian operation, and the U.S. subsidiary's ability to leverage it, are the key selling points to U.S. businesses, Costanzo said. "We are pretty unique when it comes to this," he said.
Purolator International will open its 20th U.S. office when Miami comes on line by year's end. Costanzo said the company plans to add 10 U.S. offices during 2012. The U.S. operation currently has $150 million in annual sales and is growing at a 30-percent annualized rate, Costanzo said.
Costanzo said the subsidiary plans to expand into Mexico, where it will target U.S.-based businesses with services linking Canada and Mexico. It also plans to export its model to Europe, pursuing companies on the continent that might be interested in entering or expanding into Canada, which is the world's ninth largest economy.
Our motto is "We Deliver Canada,'" he said.