Mach 1 Air Services in Tempe has quietly become the largest shipping company based in Arizona and one of the top 20 air cargo companies in the United States. And it’s looking for more growth in Mexico.
The freight-fowarder has 16 offices in the United States and 200 agents in 100 countries worldwide to move goods. And it recently received a federal security certificate that will allow it to more easily expand operations already in Mexico.
"The international markets, in terms of air cargo, are growing at a faster clip than the domestic markets," said Mike Entzminger, Mach 1 CEO and Scottsdale resident. "There’s more commerce there and a lot of times people can’t wait 21 days for an ocean container to float across the ocean, so you end up flying quite a bit of the international trade."
Mach 1 buys the belly space of commercial aircraft — namely Southwest, America West, Northwest and United — to ship the goods of its customers. It also has a fleet of trucks and distribution and operation facilities to move cargo to nearby locations.
"Where we differ from a UPS, a Federal Express or DHL it our average size shipment is about 900 pounds," Entzminger said. "They consider themselves a small package company. They’re really an envelope company."
Mach 1 moves freight for local companies including Avnet, TRW and Phelps Dodge Corp. It also delivers parts going to Ford, General Motors and Chrysler body and assembly plants, mostly in Mexico.
"John Q. Public doesn’t really think of auto parts on an airplane, but it’s not always finished parts. Sometimes it’s raw materials," Entzminger says. "We handle different components for TRW in the manufacture of their air bags and we’ve had shipments we’ve done from foreign countries for Phelps Dodge. We brought in fire brick for their smelters down in the mines."
The company was founded in 1988 in a small tin building in south Phoenix. Today, it’s 40,000 square-foot headquarters is near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The privately owned firm employs 189, 50 of which are in the Valley, and it had revenue of $41 million in 2003, Entzminger said. It is budgeted to make $61 million in revenue this year.
"We feel we’re probably around the 18th or 19th largest freight-forwarder in the United States, largely based on what airlines tell us our standing with them is as a client," Entzminger said. "We’re going quite well."
To fuel growth, Mach 1 opened offices in Chicago and Dallas in recent years. And it plans facilities in Mexico City and Guadalajara, Mexico by the end of year.
"We’d have to break our back to grow 35 and 40 percent a year in Phoenix," Entzminger said. "Five years ago, about 99 percent of our business was in North America. Now, we’ve established an agent network where we’ve got partners...in foreign countries that do our pick up if it’s an import and do our delivery if it’s an export, and they help with the custom’s process."
Entzminger, 50, says his job is shipping middleman.
"We have accounts with pretty much every airline in the world," he said. "What we do is choose the method, the airlines, the size aircraft and the schedule that fits the needs of the client."
Jerry Biegler, Avnet director of corporate transportation services, said the computer parts distributor uses Mach 1 to ship goods overnight, second day and for 3-to-5-day heavyweight shipping. Avnet, which is based in Phoenix and has East Valley operations, also has selected the company to deliver goods to the border.
"While their primary function has been heavyweight shipping, they are able to support us in a lot of other areas including some opportunities moving forward into Mexico," Biegler said.
Mach 1 was recently given Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism certification from the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. It also has a Partners in Protection certification from the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency. The certificates mean the company has met security measures and can more quickly transport goods across borders. The designation will help Mach 1 move more goods into and out of Mexico.
"In terms of air cargo, a lot of what goes on in Nogales, Sonora, and Hermosillo and Guaymas, a lot of that freight comes into Phoenix Airport and 15 or 20 percent goes into Tucson airport," Entzminger said. "There’s a lot of things going on there because you’ve got the inexpensive labor, and a lot of assembly goes on in Mexico. So it’s a wonderful, wonderful market for us."
The company recently named a president to oversee its Mexican subsidiary. The employee is responsible for growing its operations in Monterrey, the third largest city in Mexico, and in Queretaro, where the company already has facilities. Mach 1 also has officers in border towns in Laredo, Texas and McAllen, Texas.