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Kenco Logistics plans to nearly triple its staff over the next year after the freight broker continued to grow and beat company projections this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite a drop in shipping volumes in April when many manufacturers shut down plants and distribution facilities, Kenco's freight brokerage business has rebounded strongly this summer and fall as the company has capitalized on managing more freight shipments. In August, September, and October, Kenco said its Chattanooga-based freight brokerage team exceeded its sales goals by 44%, 11%, and 32%, respectively, continually breaking its own records.

"This has undoubtedly been a difficult year, but I'm incredibly proud of the immense growth our team has achieved in spite of the unprecedented challenges," said Dallas Walker, vice president of freight logistics at Kenco. "As we look to expand our team and welcome new employees, we aspire to continue this momentum and cultivate a culture of accountability, integrity, teamwork, and diversity."

By the end of 2021, Kenco Logistics wants to grow its existing 15-employee staff to 42 employees, Walker said. All of those freight brokers now work out of the corporate headquarters of Kenco, which is one of the largest warehouse, distribution and logistics companies in the United States. In the future, company officials said Kenco plans to add other brokerage offices around the country.

Kenco, which began in Chattanooga as Cherokee Warehouses in 1950, added its freight brokerage business in 1979 as one of the first of what has grown into nearly two dozen freight broker companies with operations now in Chattanooga.

Kenco's expansion mirrors the growth of some other local brokers operating in what some have dubbed "the silicon valley of trucking" in Chattanooga, as the home to two of the nation's biggest trucking companies and dozens of related trucking, shipping, insurance and information companies in the logistics industry.

Trident Transport is currently doubling its freight broker staff to 140 employees on Chattanooga's North Shore while Network Transport plans to double its existing 53-employee staff at its downtown office in the next couple of years. TallGrass Freight Co., recently opened a freight brokerage office in Chattanooga where it hopes to soon have 20 employees.

While Kenco's freight brokerage team continues to build on its early success in the dry van and refrigerated market, much of the fleet growth this year has come in the flatbed and specialized sector. Bruce Clements, director of operations at Kenco Logistics, joined the brokerage in December 2019 and helped develop the Open Deck division.

"Bruce's extensive knowledge and expertise in the heavy haul and specialized industry are evident," Walker said. "We're excited about the explosive growth that has come since he joined the team and are looking forward to continued success in that market."

Walker said Kenco's freight brokerage operation employs a "cradle to grave" service model, which provides customers with a single point of contact.

"Whether it's a last-minute change to a load, general lane pricing, or a tracking update, their Kenco representative is the single source for all their transportation needs, maximizing accountability and responsiveness," he said.

As part of the company's dedication to sustainability, Kenco recently became SmartWay certified through the United States Environmental Protection Agency. This program endeavors to accelerate the adoption of energy-efficient technologies and best practices, requiring participants to monitor and share fuel use and freight emissions data.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340

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