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Old Dominion Freight Line’s new service center has room to grow

Old Dominion Freight Line invests $10M in Lordstown area

LORDSTOWN — The concrete in the sprawling yard at Old Dominion Freight Line’s new state Route 45 service center is 7 inches thick.

It has to be to support the weight of the constant trucks coming to and going from the facility, and to support the national freight hauler’s triples operation, which in common parlance is hauling three trailers with one tractor.

“We needed to find a location we could run triples so that was paramount, that was absolutely paramount,” said John Zielinski, Great Lakes regional vice president for Old Dominion. “It’s going to be a large part of our growth plans for this service center and our employee head count.”

The North Carolina-based company acquired 15.2 acres west of Henn Parkway for $950,000 in October to build the new transportation hub. Old Dominion formerly operated in Girard, but the center on 2 acres on State Street was landlocked and provided zero room to grow.

“The size was constraining us from what we wanted to do, so this was the idea,” John Lisi, manager of the new service center, said. “It has allowed us to increase our line haul operation and it’s going to down the road in the future, even this year and next with the amount of freight Old Dominion is doing, is add more runs on, bring more equipment in. At the other center, we couldn’t do that.”

Operations at the expanded center started in late April.

“In the LTL (less than truckload) industry, we base capacity on the number of doors, so we went from 24 doors in Girard to 60 doors here,” Zielinski said. “We went from 2 acres to 15.2, which is significant, and we also have room for 24 more doors.”

LTL is similar to UPS or FedEx in that it’s package delivery, but with larger freight on pallets or skids or totes or drums. The industry needs service centers like the one in Girard and Old Dominion’s seven others across Ohio to move the freight of 20,000 pounds or less from the manufacturer to the end user or distribution center or a distribution center to the end user. Old Dominion also does residential deliveries, but only for larger-sized shipments.

The goods are nonperishable, from clothing to food to playground sets to wood to chemicals. Old Dominion does not transport refrigerated items, livestock or biohazardous material.

Old Dominion looked at other locations for the new building before deciding on the site in Lordstown. It offered enough space for the enormous yard and was ideal logistically because of its closeness to the Ohio Turnpike, the only road in Ohio where hauling triples is permissible, Lisi and Zielinski said.

The center employs 64 people, including 32 line haul drivers and 14 city drivers that deliver more locally. Within the line haul ranks, 10 of them move freight around the Youngstown area and 22 move freight that is relayed across the U.S.

With the new center and its potential for expansion couple with growth in the industry, Lisi well expects to at least double the workforce in Lordstown.

“We have added nine full-time employees since it has opened,” he said. “I suspect that the total head count will probably double in five years.”

Said Zielinski, “If we thought the local market wasn’t going to grow, we would have built 24 doors and just added a great big parking lot, but we fully intend to grow the local market as well as add line haul drivers to supplement the entire company’s growth as well.”

Founded in 1934, Old Dominion started with one truck running a 94-mile route in Virginia. It has grown into an operation with 248 service centers with about 41,000 tractors and trailers.

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