Lost-luggage delivery fleet shifts to e-commerce, profits from simple recycling

Bryan BilchikBryan Bilchik

In entrepreneur-speak, it’s called a ‘pivot’: Tampa, Fla.-based Manko Delivery Systems got its start delivering mishandled luggage for airlines, but when baggage fees brought the market to a halt in 2008 the company developed a plan to become a one-stop shop for e-commerce and home delivery.

“I tried to get us diversified,” says Bryan Bilchik, a friend of the company founder who was brought on to help restructure.

Bilchik was new to transportation, but a problem solver with a degree in electrical engineering and Six Sigma certification.

He soon became the company GM, and led an expansion into warehousing, scheduled cartage and air cargo services for domestic and international shipments.

Bilchik describes Manko’s mainstay home delivery service as a boutique “soup to nuts” offering. Manko will pick up freight from its customer’s docks and schedule deliveries to the consignee at home and manage all returns and pickups.

Bilchik also saw an opportunity to eliminate $2,500 to $3,000 per month in pallet costs. The company began to offer a free service to customers to remove unwanted, leftover pallets and dunnage from docks. Drivers load the refuse into their trailers after making pickups and deliveries.

Manko cardboardManko pays drivers to pick up and return the pallets to its own facilities. The new program made it possible not only to stop buying pallets, but to sell the excess to pallet recycling companies. Manko has been able to turn $500 to $700 in profit each month depending on the number of pallets drivers bring back.

Bilchik purchased the company in January with a business partner. He’s now vice president and chief operating officer.

Read Senior Editor’s Aaron Huff’s full story of the Manko Delivery Systems turnaround in Commercial Carrier Journal, HWT’s sister publication, which has named the company its Innovator of the Month.