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Updated: July 8, 2019

A logistics David makes room among Goliaths

HBJ Photo | Gregory Seay Logistics-services vendor John Kumpa is building up his independent freight-brokering and warehousing-distribution operations in Windsor Locks.

The bustling industry sector devoted to rapidly shipping and delivering catalog and online merchandise to homes and businesses is increasingly planting its facilities and opening routes across Connecticut and New England.

And few know that as well as John Kumpa, the co-owner of independent Multi-Mode Logistics (MML), a 19-year-old “mom-and-pop” fourth-party logistics-services provider determined to keep ahead of such major, better-financed players as Amazon Prime, United Parcel Service, FedEx, U.S. Postal Service, and dozens of trucking companies, 3PL and other logistics operators, plus warehouse-distribution vendors and others.

MML’s model is two-fold: as a delivery broker, it matches — for a fee — trucks and drivers with customers who need merchandise picked up or delivered; and provides warehouse-fulfillment services to customers, thus creating efficiencies. MML brokers thousands of such pickup/deliveries monthly, Kumpa says.

Like other logistics-services vendors, Kumpa has benefited from the growing trend among retailers and manufacturers to let other parties oversee warehousing-distribution, freeing them to focus on their core businesses, he said.

The U.S. third-party logistics sector generated $185 billion in revenue in 2018, up from $175 billion in 2017, according to industry data from Statista. Assuming the economy doesn’t flatten, revenue is projected to hit $195 billion in 2019.

One German client, for instance, hired MML to fulfill orders for a varied selection of materials and accessories for garment-makers. The clients funnels customers’ orders to MML, which pulls the desired items from its warehouse shelves, then packages them for delivery by mail or truck.

To keep pace, Kumpa has invested in warehouse facilities and staff, while trying to maintain a robust customer pipeline in a logistics-distribution sector known for highly competitive pricing and thin margins.

In late January, Krumpa bought his company’s third warehouse-distribution property, paying $1.4 million for the 53,000-square-foot building at 83 King Spring Road that once housed The Windsor Shade Tobacco Co.

MML’s other two buildings are next door to each other, at 3 Choice Road, also where its freight-broker desk is housed. All three Windsor Locks facilities are within earshot of Bradley International Airport and in proximity to I-91 — both key transhipment points for logistics operators like MML.

Student trucker

Logistics is in Kumpa’s blood. The Enfield native’s father was a trucker. Kumpa, too, was a part-time warehouse worker and forklift operator at former Roadway Express, earning $10 hourly while studying finance at UConn.

After graduating and working other jobs, Kumpa, who lives in West Hartford, got back into trucking in the early ‘90s, just as the deregulated industry was catching fire.

“It became the wild west,’’ he said of U.S. trucking post deregulation.

But Kumpa started slow, using his list of truck-driver contacts to get his freight-broker operation off the ground. Over time, he added one warehouse, then a second, and now a third — exploiting freighting and fulfillment opportunities his rivals turn away.

Today, MML’s logistics-customer list includes Hartford’s Gold Bond Mattress, Plainville’s Gem Sensors, California networking-technology giant Cisco Systems, and Florida pool-spa equipment-accessories supplier AquaCal.

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