Ken Reynolds started his business with a cell phone, a Suburban, a single Penski truck and an American Express card. That was 30 years ago.
Today Accurate Cargo Delivery Systems Inc. has a fleet of 85 vehicles. Penski trucks, semis and 26-ft. box trucks. 80 drivers make 650 deliveries a day throughout Arizona and southern Nevada.
Every single day they send 18-wheelers to Globe.
“Most of the business we get is referral,” says Ken.
Accurate Cargo delivers to medical facilities, office buildings, distribution warehouses, construction sites, mining sites, reservations, and sometimes to the edge of a 30-mile dirt road on the Navajo reservation. They deliver the Globe-Miami Times to Globe.
“We were doing business with the printer they use in north Phoenix,” says Ken. “It was a referral.”
The Business of Trucking Cargo
“If you bought it, a truck brought it,” says Bob Johnson, VP of Accurate Cargo. “Everything moves on a truck at some point.”
Big trucks can deliver more freight, but sometimes pickup trucks are the only way to get it up the road. When delivering communication equipment to cellular towers, the semi parks at the bottom and a pickup takes it all the way up.
An Accurate Cargo truck delivered a treadmill to a helicopter that was traveling to the Havasupai reservation in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. They transported a satellite from Chandler to Luke Airforce base. From there it was loaded onto a transport plane to Alaska and launched into space.
With Fox Sports and Pepsi as clients, Accurate Cargo helped move products in and out of the Super Bowl in Glendale. Special security clearances, tracking devices.
“We love the pace,” says Ken. “It rarely slows down, so it holds your attention.”
Ken was in commercial real estate, leasing warehouse space when he became partners with a client, a freight forwarder. The business grew, and when his partner wanted to focus on air freight and Ken saw an opportunity to serve rural Arizona, they decided to part ways.
“It was pretty down and dirty back then,” says Ken. “Your options for shipping were a big corporation or a guy with a truck.”
Ken’s first customers were Petsmart and US West Cellular (now Verizon), but for the first 5-6 years he took every customer he could get.
“You have to fill the truck,” says Ken.
A breakthrough came when Dialysis Solution asked him to deliver 2000-pound palettes to homes and dialysis centers in Wilcox, Kearny and Globe.
“They were the inspiration that got us going because we were making deliveries to all these rural destinations,” says Ken. “We expanded into the rural market based on the need.”
Another benefit that Accurate Cargo offers to rural communities is liftgate service.
“A lot of places in rural settings don’t have delivery docks,” explains Ken. “Whether it’s bottled water going to a golf course in Sedona or a jetski to Lake Havasu, you’ve got to be able to unload.”
A Career in Trucking
“The trucking industry as a whole, rewards hard work,” says Bob. “A lot of people start at the bottom and make a career out of it.”
Bob got into the freight business in 1973 after serving in the Marine Corps. As a student in Sacramento on the GI bill, he worked the docks, unloading trucks at night. He met Ken in Phoenix, their respective companies carrying freight for the same vendor.
“Bob was so customer-centric,” Ken says. “Every time I brought up an issue, he handled it the same way I would – take care of the customer.”
When Ken asked Bob’s boss if he could hire him away, the boss agreed if Bob would find and train his replacement. Which he did, with a seasoned professional they both knew..
“I’ve never burned a bridge with a customer or an employee,” says Bob. “You always need to treat people properly.”
Accurate Cargo currently employs about 135 people; 80 of them drivers spread out throughout Arizona and Nevada.
“We’ve never laid off a driver in the history of our company,” says Ken proudly. “There was some attrition in 2009, but no layoffs.”
Every person is a full-time employee with benefits and access to 401K. The execs flip burgers for the staff. Still, employees are hard to find, Bob and Ken agree. Ex-military do well. Very few women apply.
“We cannot bring in green drivers,” says Ken. “Most insurance companies want two years experience with a proven safety record.”
A commercial driver is allowed 11 hours a day. Then they must be off duty for 10 hours. Drivers are paid by the hour, not the mile.
“Our philosophy is to slow down and make more money,” says Ken. “Safety is number one, and everything else is number two.”
Challenges and Changes
The independently owned company has grown gradually over the years. By intention, according to Ken. Competitors that grew rapidly, he notes, are no longer in the field. Accurate Cargo survived a big downturn in 2009 by holding true to its customer service principles.
“Don’t cut back on your office staff,” Ken extolls. “Communication is the most important thing to deliver to our customers.”
Instead the company added web support for tracking shipments. The advent of internet technology and Amazon has driven customers to expect more, according to Bob, though Covid and driver shortage has tempered the expectation.
Bob estimates that 10-15% of Accurate Cargo employees were out on any given day throughout the pandemic. Two died from the virus. Despite those hardships, the company delivered freight every single day.
“I don’t know how we did it,” Bob says. “Our employees came to work. When they got sick, they stayed home.”
The industry shift toward online ordering and home delivery has Accurate Cargo carving out a niche is residential deliveries. Gas and diesel prices are a major cost factor. An electric truck that can go to Globe and back in a day, carrying 44 thousand pounds of freight up the hill does not yet exist, Ken points out.
Trucking companies track by on time deliveries. The right freight at the right place at the right time.
“I can’t guarantee we’ll be perfect 100% of the time, but I can promise that we will listen to the need, the problem, and we will respond to it,” says Ken. “Everybody in the office knows that when a customer calls, that’s their boss.”
A customer in Kingman needed delivery of an x-ray machine; a technician had been flown in to install it. Accurate Cargo got it there in time, at 10 p.m.
“They need the delivery to make their business successful,” he says.
When a customer accepted a later-than-expected shipment, Ken offered an IOU of assistance. Three days later, the customer came to Phoenix to get a snowblower. It couldn’t fit in their truck so they dropped it at the dock and the next morning Accurate Cargo got it to their home in Flagstaff, arriving ahead of the customer and 30 inches of new snow.
A traveler, Patti Daley came to Globe in 2016 to face the heat, follow love, and find desert treasure. She writes in many formats and records travel scraps and other musings at daleywriting.com.