Peoples Diversification to Transloading Proves Successful Decision for Growth

THE SEEDLING that would grow into Peoples Services Inc of Canton, Ohio, was planted over 100 years ago. As the time passed, the company branched into many areas, including a rail/truck transloading division established in the late 1960s. Today, transloading continues as one of the company's growing segments and a steady contributor to the total annual revenue of $25 million.

“When we are looking for new property, rail is an integral part of the decision,” says John Matheos, sales and marketing manager.

The company transfers liquid and dry products between railcars and tank trucks for both local and longhaul pick-up and delivery. Peoples Services operates modern, well-equipped transloading facilities in Barberton, Massillon, and Brewster, Ohio, and in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company's Ohio facilities are served by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway, which moves shipments around the clock. For additional links, the railway company is open to reciprocal switching with CSX Corp and the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway System. Interchange also is available with Norfolk Southern. CSX Corp serves the North Carolina facility.

“These arrangements allow us to move domestic and international shipments more efficiently, more economically, and with greater consistency,” says Kirk Hodgson, operations manager.

Dry products handled include sodium sulfate, sodium bisulfate, plastic pellets, cement, and flour. Liquid products include fatty acids, wax, oils, methanol, and sodium methylate. The transportation service area stretches from Western Pennsylvania, across Ohio and Indiana, and into Canada.

The Barberton facility transloads about four to twelve railcars per day. About 50 to 60 railcars can be accommodated on the four rail spurs. Trailers are loaded with liquid and dry products. Services include steam heat for handling liquid wax and a commercial truck scale.

At Brewster, the company handles from four to fifteen railcars daily on four spurs that can hold more than 60 railcars. The facility handles plastic pellets exclusively.

Massillon has one rail spur and handles about six railcar loads of flour and four loads of cement per day. Service also is available for plastic pellets at the location. Capacity is about 12 railcars.

In Charlotte, Peoples transloads about three to six plastic pellet railcars per day on the two rail spurs. Space is available for 16 railcars.

Aside from the rail transloading services, Peoples transfers liquid oils directly from tank trailers to 55-gallon drums at a site in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Transloading Services

Among the transloading services are steam heat for railcars and tank trailers and a commercial scale. Wilson Manufacturing & Design and Dunbar Kapple provide equipment used in the transloading process.

Peoples Services transloading division carries on in the tradition established by the company a century ago. The history of Peoples Cartage began in 1914 in Massillon, Ohio, as primarily a storage and furniture moving company. Ray Sibila purchased the company in 1947. In 1950, the company was incorporated as Peoples Cartage Inc. Today, the founder's son, Ronald Sibila, chief executive officer, and the grandson, Doug Sibila, president and chief operating officer, oversee the company's operations.

By the time the company was incorporated, it was involved in hauling many cargoes, including the United States mail. In 1969, the company branched into public warehousing and has continued to expand and diversify, including organizing the transloading division.

“Peoples Services is a group of companies that services the warehousing, distribution, and transportation needs of business and industry,” says Matheos. “We are recognized for our expertise in the storage and handling of hazardous materials, as well as a broad spectrum of general commodities.”

Each company has a terminal manager reporting to a vice-president. The terminal manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations, bottom line, and performance. Corporate staff provides support services, training, policies and procedures, sales support, information technology systems, purchasing, human resources support, and regulatory. Regular manager meetings are held to share knowledge and progress towards goals and objectives.

Pneumatic Tank Trailers

On the transportation side of the business, the company runs 20 pneumatic tank trailers, including units from Heil, Polar, Fruehauf, and Butler. Two are dedicated to foodgrade for flour transport to Nickles Bakery in Ohio. One trailer is dedicated to Blue Circle, a cement company. The remaining trailers transport various products for customers.

New bulkers are from Heil and have 1,625 cubic feet of capacity. Two types of dry bulk trailers are in the fleet — vacuum pneumatic trailers transport plastic pellets and standard bulkers haul other dry bulk products. They are supplied by Trans Spec Inc, Columbiana, Ohio, and are equipped with Sure Seal butterfly valves. The running gear includes Hendrickson Intraax integrated air suspension and axle system.

Freightliner and Volvo tractors are used by the fleet. Newest power units are from Freightliner and are supplied by Young Truck Sales, Canton, Ohio. Peoples has added 18 new power units since 2000. The company specifies tractor variations: 70-inch sleeper cab, 48-inch mid-roof sleeper cab, and daycab. The sleeper cabs are equipped with a 435-horsepower Cummins engine while the daycab has a 370-horsepower Cummins engine. The tractors have Fuller transmissions and Meritor axles, the drive axle with a 3.73 ratio. Tires are from Michelin.

Keeping the tank trailers and tractors on the road falls to the direction of Duane Stutz, who supervises the maintenance department in Massillon. He is a second-generation employee with more than 30 years of service with the company. Tractors and tank trailers receive routine service while major repairs are sent to outside sources. The transloading sites have a cleaning bay used to rinse tank trailer interiors that haul plastic pellets.

Driver Training

Of the company's 50 drivers, 14 are dedicated to dry bulk services. Training is conducted at the Canton headquarters and is directed by Diane Neal. Dry bulk drivers receive training in company orientation and policies, Department of Transportation regulations, defensive driving, and hazardous materials handling.

A strong driver training program is just one of the company's commitments to providing quality service. “It is the policy of Peoples Services to operate in a manner which offers the highest level of quality and performance in all areas of operations,” says Matheos. “Our goal is to assure our customers that we will deliver products error-free and on time. At the same time, we are always working toward continuous improvement.”

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