The Washington Post

LaserShip looks to expand to the midwest


Josh Dinneen, senior vice president of LaserShip. The company plans to expand its same-day and next-day delivery service to the Midwest by next year. (Jeffrey MacMillan/For Capital Business)

There’s no doubt about it, says Josh Dinneen: More Americans want packages delivered as quickly as possible.

The growing appetite for same- and next-day delivery, popularized by services such as Amazon Prime, has been good for Vienna-based LaserShip, where Dinneen is senior vice president of commercial strategy.

The company, which specializes in what is called “last-mile deliveries” along the East Coast, is looking to expand to the Midwest by early 2015.

“We’re going for speed,” Dinneen said. “We’re not picking up packages in Seattle and bringing them over to D.C. We’re typically staying within the time zone, and we’re able to do things faster than national competitors in many cases.”

The company was founded in 1986 as a document delivery service. These days, a network of trucks transports items — most commonly online purchases, but also items such as office supplies, medical equipment and wholesale pharmaceuticals — to different parts of the region. An online order that is fulfilled in Boston, for example, might be picked up by LaserShip and delivered to a home in Washington.

“We started as a local point-to-point service, and today we’re delivering hundreds of thousands of packages a day to consumers across the East Coast,” Dinneen said. “It’s been a very dynamic change for us.

LaserShip has continue to spread on the East Coast. Last month, the company begin delivering to New Hampshire, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Delaware, expanding its service area by 44 percent and reaching an additional 8.5 million customers.

Dinneen would not disclose revenue or profit figures, but said the company’s annual revenue grew by double digits last year. The e-commerce delivery business, the largest part of the company’s business, grew more than 30 percent in 2013.

Even so, the regional shipping industry comprises a small fraction of the $32 billion ground transportation industry. Last year, for example, regional shippers brought in a total of about $650 million in annual revenue, according to SJ Consulting Group, a transportation and logistics research firm.

LaserShip landed in the small parcel business in the late 1990s during the dot-com boom. In 1999, the company partnered with Barnes & Noble to provide same-day shipping services in New York City.

Today, LaserShip counts Amazon.com, Office Depot and Staples among its clients. (The Washington Post, including Capital Business, is owned by Amazon.com founder Jeffrey P. Bezos.)

“Anybody who is an online retailer is either a customer or a target customer for us,” Dinneen said.

While business-to-consumer services make up the bulk of LaserShip’s business, the company also provides global deliveries of items such as donor organs, tissues and blood through a facility in Chantilly, Dinneen said. The company partners with a number of national air carriers, including American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, to coordinate deliveries.

“Sometimes a hospital in California will say, ‘We need that tissue tonight,’” Dinneen said. “That kind of service has to be immediate. If it means chartering a jet, that’s what we’ll do.”

The company has more than 1,000 employees, not including delivery personnel, and reaches an estimated 70 million customers along the East Coast, Dinneen said.d

Last summer, LaserShip expanded service to North Carolina and parts of Florida with the opening of new facilities in Jacksonville, Orlando and Charlotte.

“There is increasing demand for regional service,” Dinneen said. “We are filling a niche.”

Abha Bhattarai is a business reporter for The Washington Post. She has previously written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg Times.
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