Dan Sokolowski got his start in the transportation industry straight out of high school, working for an expedited trucking company moving trucks around a terminal yard. Sokolowski was able to work his way up from a yard jockey to CEO of the largest independently owned provider of ground transportation in North America.
In 1992, Sokolowski started Panther II Transportation with $5,000 in capital, one partner and no employees. He restructured the company and partnered with private equity sponsor Fenway Partners in 2005 and transformed it into Panther Expedited Services, which now has more than 370 employees.
Panther, located in Seville, deploys a 100 percent owner-operator fleet of 1,500 cargo vans, straight trucks and tractor trailers on a regional basis, mainly covering the area east of the Mississippi River. Panther’s more than 4,000 customers include third-party logistics providers, large automotive and industrial customers, and the U.S. government.
Sokolowski has grown the company in many ways. He created an owner-operator business model instead of having a fleet of company-owned trucks operated by employees. This allows for greater flexibility and lower investment costs.
Sokolowski also varied Panther’s customer base beyond automotive and other manufacturers by launching Elite Services in 2002, which services customers with specialized requirements. He also expanded the company from expedited ground freight transportation to premium logistics solutions and launched its transportation brokerage business in June 2005. This allowed the company to be a single-source logistical provider.
Sokolowski also brought in new technology by equipping all vehicles in the company’s owner-operator network with satellite communication and tracking equipment.
In July 2006, Panther acquired its biggest competitor, Con-way Expedite & Brokerage, and in March 2007, it acquired Integres Global Logistics. Sokolowski believes more acquisitions will be pursued in the future.
Sokolowski expects an increased demand in the expedited and premium logistics markets in the coming years and that Panther will continue to grow as the customer supply chain becomes more complex.
HOW TO REACH: Panther Expedited Services Inc., (330) 769-5830 or www.pantherexpedite.com