Sky Courier Network Inc. of Reston has acquired Executive Courier Ltd., a messenger service based in Bethesda, as part of a plan to launch a nationwide network of local delivery services.
The two privately owned companies did not disclose the price of the acquisition, but Sky Courier said it expects Executive Courier to grow from revenue of $2.4 million in 1984 to revenue of more than $5 million in 1986.
Sky Courier, a diversified delivery-service company, hopes the combination will fuel an expansion that will double its own 1984 revenue to more than $100 million in five years and enable the company to go public within three years.
The merger also joins two companies started separately by two brothers from Silver Spring.
Joseph Wolinsky and Gilbert Carpel started Sky Courier eight years ago to offer speedy intercity air delivery of "time critical" items such as kidneys, blood plasma, urgent documents and packages.
Mitch Wolinsky, 15 years younger than Joe, had worked nights for his brother's business while attending the University of Maryland. Two years ago, Mitch Wolinsky and his partner, Michael Davidson, started Executive Courier to offer personal delivery of packages and papers within the Washington area.
Even without the family connection, Executive Courier would be an attractive acquisition because it fits Sky Courier's expansion plans, said Joseph Wolinsky, Sky Courier's chief executive.
Sky Courier plans to use Executive Courier as a model for similar local operations to be created or acquired in the nation's 15 major metropolitan markets within the next five years. Wolinsky said Sky has signed a letter of intent agreeing to buy local ground messenger services in Boston and Atlanta and is negotiating for the purchase of another one in New York.
Executive Courier says it ranks third in Washington's $50 million messenger service industry, with a delivery team of more than 130 messengers in cars and on bicycles.
"You have to know the city well to provide local messenger service well," said Charles Zeitzoff, Sky Courier vice president of sales and marketing.
Patterned after Executive Courier, the new delivery services will be run separately in each city as subsidiaries of Executive Courier Network Inc., which is itself part of Sky Courier Network Inc.
Each of the new companies will dress its messengers in the Executive Courier uniform -- a white shirt and bow tie. "The look is important," Zeitzoff said.
Sky Courier will then continue to provide air delivery service between cities.
"The beauty" of the new network is that both the intercity and intracity services can use the same sales and marketing force, Zeitzoff said. A customer will be able to call the same company to send a package from Georgetown to Capitol Hill or from Georgetown to Los Angeles.
"We have the sales force in place already," he said.
The extensive ground network also is expected to improve Air Courier's intercity service by speeding up the movement of a package from the sender to airport and from airport to the final destination.
"The most difficult part of delivery is the ground system, and we think we have a ground system that's second to none," Zeitzoff said.
Sky Courier spends about $7 million a year moving packages on the ground and could be Executive Courier's biggest customer, Wolinsky said.
Wolinsky says Sky Courier offers a very different service from companies such as Federal Express, Purolator Courier and Airborne because Sky Courier handles more urgent deliveries in a speedier manner. The big mass-market companies offer low-cost overnight delivery, usually putting packages on their own planes, which fly to a hub city. There, packages are sorted and flown out for delivery the next day.
Sky Courier, handling perishable items such as body organs and "time critical" documents, costs five times more than the mass delivery giants, but it can move a package from city to city in one day, Wolinsky said. Sky Courier offers to pick up a package within one hour after the order, put the item on the first available commercial airline flight, fly it straight to the destination city and deliver it in person to the recipient. The sender automatically receives confirmation of the delivery within 90 minutes.
"It's a much more personal level of service," Zeitzoff said.
Sky Courier also is a much smaller service, moving about 4,000 shipments a day compared with the 400,000 a day handled by some of the mass-delivery companies, Wolinsky said.
"The larger volumes require a system, which slows it down," Wolinsky said, adding that "Federal Express is a good customer of ours."
Sky Courier is a specialized "niche business," designed to meet a particular need that was not being served by other companies, Wolinsky said. He does not see the overnight-delivery giants as direct competition and believes Sky Courier will have a competitive advantage over other local messenger services because of its national network.
Customer demand has pulled the diversified company into other niches as well.
Last summer it created its Sky Superfreight subsidiary, the "fastest growing segment of our business," to move "time critical" shipments weighing up to 10,000 pounds, Zeitzoff said.
Last year the company acquired Aeromail Inc., an overseas bulk-mailing service. "Our customers wanted international service," Wolinsky said. "We grew to meet customer demand."
Sky Courier Network sees itself "as a lot of different companies, each meeting special needs" and linked nationally on the marketing level, Wolinsky said.