ODW Logistics, Central Ohio’s sixth largest family-owned business, has named a new president.
Ted Nikolai will run the day-to-day operations for the third-party logistics firm and its 1,200 employees. He’s been chief operating officer since 2015. John Nesswill remain as CEO, focusing more on strategic development and gaining customers.
“It’s exciting times for the company and I’m quite honestly humbled,” Nikolai told me. He’s the first non-family member to lead the company since its founding in 1971. “Looking forward to the challenge.”
The company works in warehousing, fleet operations and transportation management supporting customers in food service, consumer electronics, health and beauty products, and a few other industries. It’s headquartered in the Buggyworks complex off Nationwide Boulevard in the Arena District.
A Dayton native who went to Ohio State University, Nikolai started working for an accounting firm before being recruited to Exel, now DHL Supply Chain, where he worked for 20 years and rose to chief commercial officer. ODW, he said, attracted him because he wanted to work with a smaller organization that had the potential to grow.
ODW is the sixth largest family-owned business in Central Ohio by local headcount and reported $195 million in revenue in 2017, according to Columbus Business First research. And it’s the second largest local logistics provider with nearly 2 million square feet of warehouse space here. About 600 of its employees are based in Central Ohio with the remainder spread around the country and other major sites in Los Angeles, Chicago and Milwaukee.
“The outlook is great,” he said of the company. “We’ve made substantial investments in technology, facilities and talent. The market is good so the industry continues to present opportunities, and we’re anxious to increase the pace of that success.”
The logistics industry has a large market for third-party providers like ODW, he said, especially as firms shift to an e-commerce model. This kind of business has shorter moving needs — many customers are two hours to a day of travel — and demands multiple modes of transportation to serve customers who have higher expectations.
“When I started with the industry, dialoguing with talent to come to Columbus was different,” he said. “Now, it’s an up and coming town and it’s not a difficult conversation to talk to someone about bringing their family and putting down roots in this city.”
The company continually needs new talent, especially because it has to staff up seasonally as demand changes during the year.
“We are an evolving company and folks who join tend to want to be a part of it,” he said. “We try to encourage real participation and ownership in the direction of the company, and that’s exciting for an employee that wants to be a part of it.”