Driving into the future Featured

8:13am EDT June 28, 2006
Thomas L. Cronin Jr. founded Dayton Freight Lines Inc. in 1981 with one used van.

By 2004, his company was one of the country’s Top100 Motor Carriers, as named by INBOUND LOGISTICS magazine.

DFL was a product of the deregulation of the trucking industry and got its start as an air freight delivery franchisee making runs to New York City’s JFK Airport each night, picking up internationally shipped goods and commodities and delivering them to Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati.

But the company almost didn’t make it. When the company that did DFL’s billing and collection work went out of business owing it about $500,000, DFL nearly went out of business as well.

But Cronin, CEO of DFL, knew the key to success was to stress customer service and quality. DFL took control of the billing, formed alliances with other shipping companies in the Midwest and changed its business model to delivering goods to a metropolitan hub, and sorting and shipping the goods to a final destination overnight.

Today, the company is a regional high-performance motor carrier with 1,960 employees, 822 tractors and 1,786 trailers. Cronin’s vision for the Dayton-based company is for it to be the best LTL carrier in the central states and to continually operate in a manner that sets the highest standards of quality and efficiency in the transportation business. To reach that goal, Cronin has stayed true to his philosophy of “delivering value today, driving the standard for tomorrow.”

The company’s value statement emphasizes the importance of providing employees an equal opportunity, treating them with dignity and respect, acknowledging all contributions, practicing open and interactive communication, maintaining trust and respect in all relationships, and working as a team.

Cronin believes in driving down decision-making to the lowest levels of the organization, empowering and rewarding employees, and that all drivers should be home on the weekends, resulting in an employee turnover rate of just 12 percent — and his original five employees are still with him.

How to reach: Dayton Freight Lines Inc., (937) 254-4060 or www.daytonfreight.com