From the corporate canyons of Wall Street, into the big city bustle of the Midwest, across this country’s vast plains, through the rugged mountains to west coast, Fairrington delivers.
Time sensitive mail and general commodities come through Fairrington’s warehouses where they are sorted, segregated and shipped across the United States. Fairrington navigates the roadblocks and detours of logistics to achieve efficiencies in time and cost savings. This is because Fairrington knows that pallets hold more than mail. They hold expectations. Clients look to Fairrington to move those expectations.
Foundation of Problem Solving
Founded by Victor G. Warren in 1981, Fairrington is one of the largest, full-service, printer-independent mailing logistics provider in the United States.
After graduating from the University of Iowa in 1973, Victor began his career in the transportation industry. Being a true entrepreneur, Victor identified a problem and created a solution.
The graphic arts industry challenge has always been time sensitivity. Less than truck load carriers of the day could not meet strict delivery parameters required by on sale and bindery dates. The only other option was to pay for a full truck load with expedited rates. The solution Fairrington offered was the combination of multiple time sensitive shipments on multiple stop loads. The end result was a more time sensitive, cost effective delivery.
Today, Fairrington offers a complete range of services to the graphics arts industry. The benefits are significant: improved response rates, tight-window delivery, increased efficiency and the greatest transparency throughout the logistics process.
Why the Name Fairrington?
It’s often been asked, “Why Fairrington?”
The name was a dormant corporation belonging to Victor’s father. There are two stories on the name “Fairrington.”
The first and most rumored to be true is that the family barber told his father that if you treat people fairly, the phone will ring and you will make a ton of money.
The second is that the doctor that delivered Victor’s father had the last name of Fairrington, but with a different spelling. The doctor worked on the influenza vaccines that saved many lives during the First World War.
Growing the Business
Deregulation of the Transportation Industry in 1980 opened up the opportunity for logistic companies to enter the general freight market to take advantage of niche opportunities. The early 1980’s were also the last years the United States Postal Service received taxpayer funds, a weening process that started in 1970’s. Without the subsidies, the Postal Service sought new ways to reduce costs and become more efficient.
By 1991, discounts developed that allowed mailers to take advantage of savings by off-setting costs for the Postal Service. A key workshare initiative to reduce postal costs was the introduction of dropship discounts in February of 1991.
Dropship is when mailers, at their own cost, ship sorted pre-paid mail directly to postal facilities closer to the mail’s final destination. This mail bypasses most of the upstream postal infrastructure resulting in faster and more reliable in-home delivery performance, with significant cost savings. Mailers quickly began taking advantage of this opportunity. During the 1990’s drop shipping of mail grew by 30+ percent per year at Fairrington.
Acquisition for Technology
By the early 1990’s the need for technology became apparent. In 1993, Fairrington acquired a Chicago based provider that had developed a barcode based system exclusive to the management of mail movement. This system provided transparency and streamlined the management of the process for continued growth.
Industry Embraces Technology
The technology landscape has drastically changed since 1981 and it continues to evolve today. Standards for communication have driven operational efficiencies throughout the industry and for Fairrington.
One employee noted that prior to electronically communicated information, “We went through copy machines like pens.” Reams of paper were sent from mail producers to logistic providers. These stacks of paper were analyzed to optimize freight planning and delivery. Once the plan was in place, another paper trail was created with multiple copies to communicate the freight on each load. Documents were created and copied at every part of the process.
When third party carriers first began to move mail, it was a manual process of making phone calls to schedule appointments. As mail volumes grew and more mail continued to be delivered closer to its destination, a need to move from phone calls to an electronic system became a necessity. The Postal Service’s Drop Shipment Appointment System (DSAS) was born. Fairrington played an instrumental role its implementation, serving as a key beta test site. Today, the current Facility Access and Shipment Tracking (FAST) system to schedule appointment is like many types of technology with web based access as well as options for integration. Once again, Fairrington contributed to the development of the modern system.
Electronic communication standards and new initiatives continue to improve the ability to optimize freight planning, drive delivery times and streamline the supply chain.
Listening to the Customers
Growth continued to come, but it was apparent that clients had additional needs, reliable and predictable service. Fairrington took on that mission and carries it forward.
Programs such as the USPS Drop Shipment Management System (DSMS) were implemented by Fairrington, allowing consolidation and postal verification of mail at Fairrington facilities leading to the practice of warehousing printed materials in advance of mailings. This expanded the production capabilities of printers and letter shops allowing for better delivery control. Fairrington provided the needed space, implemented warehouse management systems and the racking necessary to track each pallet and provide visibility to clients, the Postal Service and to Fairrington’s operating personnel.
Another example, much of the mail in the early years was placed in sacks. Sacks were difficult to handle and transport with their handling causing increased injury rates and damage to the contents. The industry and Postal Service recognized there was a problem and begin to develop solutions to reduce mail in sacks. Fairrington became one of the first to offer a solution that brought together bundles of periodicals on to pallets to reduce sacks (co-palletization).
Over the years, Fairrington added new solutions to drive additional efficiencies and savings. Comail, the process that allows magazines and catalogs from multiple mail owners to be combined in a single mail stream to drive down postage costs was added. Co-palletization of letter mail was also offered so advertisers could take advantage of discounts that could not have been achieved on their own due to increased personalization of the marketing message.
Innovation continues as Fairrington seeks to help clients become more efficient. By adding international mail solutions, warehouse options and parcel consolidation, clients can have a single logistics point of contact to meet their needs.
Active Member of Associations
Fairrington has been involved since the earliest years with organizations such as the Graphic Communications Association (GCA), now IDEAlliance, to collaboratively define the communication needs and standards that led to automated processes for exchanging information, creating orders and driving billing processes.
Fairrington’s Jim Reifenberg played a key role in the early conversations as associations were formed to bring forward the needs of the supply chain and represent the industry. Jim joined Fairrington in 1992 bringing with him systems and tools needed to grow Fairrington’s dropship business. His hands on experience made him a key contributor to the emerging associations.
Associations continue to add tremendous value to the industry. Fairrington is an active member of many associations, holding leadership and board roles in several.
Employees with Expertise
Bringing together a variety of experience and skills has been a foundational piece of Fairrington’s high customer satisfaction ratings.
Growth and change has kept employees engaged and allowed them to develop as company needs emerged. A seasoned professional, Phillip Warren, Victor Warren’s brother, has been with Fairrington since 1987. As the company expanded, he took on roles from operations, client services, IT to sales. This story is not unique to Phillip. Several employees have followed similar paths, leading to a team of experts with a deep working knowledge of the industry that have true historical perspective.
Experts new to Fairrington were also critical to Fairrington’s success as technology and workshare opportunities evolved. These experts with specialized skills enabled Fairrington to add new services for clients.
Today, all of Fairrington’s team from the warehouse, accounting, client services and data processing to sales and marketing are focused on helping clients improve response rates, meet tight delivery windows and increase efficiency to be successful.