By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN As part of a large restructuring across several states, Vitran Express, including its Winsted service center, underwent a number of changes implemented last Monday.
“This will result in 19 percent of our current business being handled at least one less time,” a company press release stated. “We will load more direct linehauls with little or no short haul business going through a break-bulk facility.”
Vitran’s US less-than-a-load (LTL) operation specializes in next-day delivery to a primary service area that stretches from Colorado to Pennsylvania, and the Canadian border to Texas, with 74 service centers.
The competitiveness in the business and the poor economy has had the LTL freight service looking at how to best serve its customers, according to Dave Kimack, president of Vitran’s central division.
“We just went through a major, major undertaking,” Kimack said.
The entire terminal and line-haul network was reorganized, taking effect last Monday.
“The by-product of this change is better quality handling, less likelihood of damage, and improved service by one day to over 100,000 origin and destination points,” the news release stated.
Kimack said the changes to the service center in Winsted were just a small piece of the overall effort to improve customers’ service time, reduce handling of freight, and lower costs.
Considering the scope of the changes, he was unable to predict the future outlook for the Winsted service center at this time.
There were 23 Winsted Vitran employees, mostly truck drivers, whose jobs were affected by the company’s line-haul reorganization.
Each of them was given the option of moving to a Twin Cities service center, and 17 accepted, according to Cindy Jergan, director of human resources and communications at the Vitran corporate office in Pittsburgh.
Customer service will continue to operate from the Winsted service center, and there will continue to be activity out of the facility, Jergan said.
However, as Vitran has acquired other businesses into its corporation, those customer service duties remained at the other locations, Kimack said.
This has reduced the number of customer service staff at Vitran in Winsted.
At one time, the Winsted staff had been responsible for answering calls for all of the company’s service centers if no one elsewhere picked up a call.
The Winsted customer service representatives were trained to answer almost any question a customer might have including rates, transit times, and the location of freight; or had the option of transferring the call to someone who did.
The goal was to have a live person answering calls instead of a machine.