ABF Invests in Auburn Hills for “The Long Haul”

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

I remember that cold March day when Walter Echols called us with a simple question.

With a friendly southern drawl, Walter politely asked if his company, ABF Freight Systems, Inc., would be allowed to open a new distribution facility in the City of Auburn Hills.  He was eyeing the former Roadway terminal at 3660 Lapeer Road, which had been vacant since 2008.  The site seemed to fit perfectly into ABF’s logistical plans.  But, Walter wasn’t sure if we wanted his business.

I should also mention that ABF wished to invest close to $1 million and employ 25-30 people.  So, can you guess what our answer was?

ABF fixed up this building at 3660 Lapeer Road, which had been vacant since 2008

What is ABF?  Well, they are a LTL carrier.  LTL means “less than truck load” shipping.  They ship smaller freight across the country, but are not like parcel carriers such as the US Postal Service or FedEx.  For example, ABF typically ships goods on pallets containing many boxes shrink wrapped together to form one piece, rather than many individual pieces.

ABF drivers collect freight from various local businesses in the morning “that don’t fill up the whole truck.”  The company serves all types of business from retail stores to auto suppliers.  The drivers then bring back their pick-ups to this new Auburn Hills terminal, which are off-loaded, and then consolidated with other freight onto new trailers for shipment based on the end destination.

Each loaded truck is then sent out from Auburn Hills to larger hub terminals throughout the country.  Once a truck reaches a hub, the freight is further sorted and consolidated for additional hauls.   For example, ABF may pick up some car parts from Chrysler Group LLC, consolidate the goods into a truck headed to Chicago, which will ultimately make it to a distribution center in California.

Businesses like ABF provide a delivery service that is critical to our nation’s economy.  Locally, their logistical expertise help our companies function efficiently.

So, to answer Walter’s simple question:  Absolutely, Yes!  We want ABF here for “the long haul.”  Thanks for partnering with us.