ACI Last Mile Network, a third-generation Long Beach, Calif. company that got its start delivering advertising circulars locally and became the largest U.S. distributor of print media, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary while embracing a 21st century business model.
Formerly known as ACI Media Group, the company’s new name better reflects its expanded services: providing home delivery for e-retailers coast to coast. ACI Last Mile Network (ACI) is able to do this by leveraging its legacy distribution network that it has used for decades to deliver newspapers (for companies such as the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register and the Miami Herald), as well as magazines, catalogs, directories and other print products.
“Over the last 50 years, we’ve built a huge distribution network that U.S. publishers rely on to get their printed materials to customers and subscribers,” said Keith Somers, CEO of ACI Last Mile Network. “We’re now repurposing this network into one of the most efficient and effective home delivery systems in the country to serve e-commerce companies and parcel shippers.”
In November 1965, Somers’ grandfather, Ben Somers, and uncle, Bob Somers, launched ACI with business partner Jack Meyers. The three men had worked in newspaper advertising for Rodgers McDonald Publishing in Carson, Calif. and started a division called ACI (Accurate Circulation Improvement) to enhance the quality of delivery for their primary client, Sears. The founders eventually bought the name ACI from Rodgers McDonald and formed their own company.
In the early 1990s, Keith Somers’ father, Michael, was awarded a major delivery contract from the Los Angeles Times to distribute their newspapers. “This was a game changer for the company,” Keith Somers noted. “It was a huge deal for ACI, as it was the most strategic partnership and really started to shift our business model.” The company later hired Jack Klunder, the newspaper’s former president.
In the last 10 years, ACI Last Mile Network has experienced other game changers. In 2006, it was the first distributor of newspaper delivery to use GPS-based verification systems, becoming a pioneer in the industry by using technology to improve services and delivery. It continued to grow its distribution network through strategic acquisitions. In 2013, it acquired Viking distribution in South Florida to further expand into the Southeast. In 2014, ACI launched its new e-commerce business – delivering to the “last mile” for small packages and parcels, and in 2015, it acquired a stake in MyDistrict.Net to help develop new technology-based products focused on the logistics and distribution industries.
“While certain areas of the print industry are contracting, demand for delivery service, which is an essential component to the logistics of e-commerce, will continue to grow,” said Keith Somers. In fact, according to Statista.com, an online portal with more than 18,000 sources, U.S. retail e-commerce sales amounted to $225.5 billion in 2012 and are projected to grow to $434.2 billion by 2017.
“We have a history of reliability as well as the ability to innovate when times change,” he added. “With our cost-effective nationwide delivery network in place, we are well positioned to meet the demands of tomorrow’s consumer.”