Leading Regional Transportation and Third-party Logistics Provider Keeps on Trucking
By Lou Sorendo
Laser precision. That’s what it takes to excel at the highest level in the demanding regional trucking industry.
George Joyce, who has been the CEO at Laser Transit Ltd. in Lacona for nearly 25 years, knows this all too well.
Joyce launched Laser Transit with $5,000 and leased space back in 1995. Today, he is running a multi-million dollar operation.
Laser Transit packages logistics services including transportation, distribution/warehousing, third-party logistics and outsourcing services to primary industries throughout the region.
Did he ever envision that the business would reach the heights that it has?
“I think all of us hope we can succeed,” he said. “There are so many challenges to any business startup that, I believe, most people at the beginning are focusing on how much they can get done today, and less about what their accomplishments will look like in 25 years.”
“Having said that, I certainly held lofty assumptions about what we could accomplish and that serves your ambition and tenacity,” Joyce noted. “Vision is vital, but diligence rewards.”
Joyce, 68, said Laser Transit is a service business whose primary focus is on its customers. It adapts to their needs, is consistent in communication and performance, and recognizes opportunities where clients can be assisted beyond the normal scope of what their expectations are.
In terms of keys to his success, the Oswego native said relationships are still key, “as is remaining competitive with your offerings, being open-minded in difficult environments, and remembering your employees are what allows you to deliver and grow.”
As to the future, the Sterling resident said expansion plans are under way.
“We are close to finalizing acquisition of another 60,000 square-foot facility in Oswego which will allow us to enlarge our footprint and offerings,” he said.
The company also plans to continue to look at trade with Canada as a major growth opportunity for its logistics services.
“We are examining the possibilities of adding last-mile delivery to our services as the internet-driven market for retail continues to be a growing share of transportation and supply chain economics,” said Joyce, who is a member of the boards of directors at Operation Oswego County and Pathfinder Bank.
Last-mile delivery is the movement of goods from a transportation hub to the final delivery destination, which is typically a personal residence. The focus of last-mile logistics is to deliver items to the end-user as fast as possible.
“You must be resilient and know, as in a chess game, where to best position your next move to both anticipate potential setbacks and still move forward with a winning strategy.”
— George Joyce
Long and winding road
Joyce has seen major changes in the trucking industry since launching the business in the mid-1990s.
He has managed to successfully transition through changes in the market, whether they are on the regulatory or operating fronts.
“Markets are cyclical and corporate decisions made by your customers can also disrupt progress, or catapult activity,” he said.
Since 1980 when the trucking industry was deregulated, there have been profound changes, most of which resulted in significantly more industry competition and innovation in logistics, Joyce said.
Regulatory efforts have focused on improved truck safety and lower highway mortality, he noted.
Meanwhile, technology has dramatically improved resource efficiencies and visibility while improving vehicle capabilities and reliability, Joyce added.
Laser Transit has weathered severe economic downturns along the way, the CEO said.
“You must be resilient and know, as in a chess game, where to best position your next move to both anticipate potential setbacks and still move forward with a winning strategy,” said Joyce, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics at SUNY Oswego.
Joyce reflected on revenues being generated today compared to those when he first embarked upon his enterprise.
“We started by making a few hundred thousand in revenue early on but were surprised at how quickly we grew into a multi-million dollar operation,” he said. “Revenues remain hard-earned over the past five years but continue to post positive gains as we diversify services, expand warehousing and distribution, and add customers.”
Joyce noted his annual payroll is approximately $1.5 million.
Meanwhile, hiring continues to be a major challenge for trucking firms across the nation.
In midst of trucker shortage
Joyce addressed the ongoing trucker shortage and what it’s going to take to reverse fortunes when it comes to hiring truck drivers.
The U.S. will be short 175,000 truck drivers by 2026, according to the American Trucking Associations. Fewer drivers mean that fewer goods can be moved in a timely fashion, which limits companies from selling more and consumers from enjoying what they’re used to finding in stores or online, according to the ATA.
Today, a lack of drivers is already delaying orders and making goods more expensive as freight rates climb, the ATA states. The trucking industry moved 64 percent of all freight shipments in 2015.
“The shortage remains a foremost topic with virtually every carrier I speak with,” Joyce said. “There are many efforts but providing a pathway and education for new entrants is a major goal.”
Students graduating high school cannot get their commercial driver’s license (CDL-A) until they turn 21.
“We are part of a logistics industry that is diverse and can start individuals with B licenses or in other operations where they can work on taking career and financial steps that lead to driving or other jobs that fulfill their interests and income objectives,” he said.
Likewise, finding individuals that are looking for a career change and even part-time work are obvious targets, he said.
“But they need that same education about our industry, the job mobility and security it represents, and what income and benefits are available,” he said.
What is his idea of the ideal trucker?
“Drivers are all different and very independent, but we look for a good work ethic, a safety mindset, an understanding that they represent not only us, but each customer with whom we work, and have good communication skills,” Joyce said.
Joyce said his satisfaction comes “from knowing that what I do and decisions I make has benefit not just to my future, or my family’s future, but that I help our employees with their futures and ensure their livelihoods and security.
“Apart from that, every day is a new set of challenges and that is a great driver to stay engaged and productive. I have been able to serve on several nonprofit boards, contribute to community, and hope I make a difference.”
Joyce and his wife Christine have enjoyed 48 years of marriage and have four children and 13 grandchildren.
When he is not running his business, he enjoys outdoor activities that include camping, hiking and kayaking.
He is a member investor at CenterState CEO and belongs to the Trucking Association of New York and the American Trucking Associations.