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Lake Erie Transportation

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Chuck Sites knows the importance of going the extra mile.

As president and chief executive officer of Erie, Pennsylvania- based Lake Erie Transportation (LET) — the parent company of Lake Erie Trucking, Lake Erie Crossdock and Lake Erie Logistics — Sites and his team have navigated new ownership and the challenges of the COVID pandemic, and achieved operational success, marking a historic revenue year in 2021.

In fact, Lake Erie Transportation, LLC’s journey has been 50-plus years in the making. Its division Lake Erie Trucking is one of the oldest locally owned trucking companies in the Erie region started by Erie businessman Joe Benacci and his late uncle. The business would operate from 1967 till 1998 when Benacci would buy Dodsworth Trucking and go on to form Lake Erie Logistics in 2004 when an enthusiastic Sites joined his team. In 2016, Sites and partners bought Lake Erie Logistics. They then revived the name Lake Erie Trucking in 2017, paving the way for Lake Erie Transportation to begin operating the following year.

“Our fifth year of ownership is a big accomplishment for us in that we’re carrying on the company name. We’re carrying on the trucking company that was started by the Benacci family many years ago,” Sites explains. “For us, it’s about a renewal of the company and taking it to the next generation.”

With more than 30 years of industry experience, Sites certainly has the knowledge, experience and team to guide it.

The Pittsburgh native grew up in the trucking industry where his father worked in small parcel delivery, often joining him on routes as a kid. Sites’ first jobs were delivering freight, and he even continued to hold down a delivery job while he majored in transportation management at Robert Morris. “That’s basically the way I worked my way through college,” he says.

After working for several transportation firms in the Pittsburgh area, Sites eventually met Benacci through a mutual friend. Benacci, then owner of TWL, had purchased Dodsworth Trucking and needed an expert for his less-than- truckload (LTL) operation, recruiting Sites to join his team. On July 5, 2004, Sites became a minority partner in then Lake Erie Logistics (doing business as Dodsworth) — which turned out to be one of the best moves of his career.

During his tenure, Sites served as vice president of Operations, gaining valuable leadership experience that would help him strike out to form Lake Erie Transportation years later.

“I have a lot of respect for Joe Benacci, and I want to recognize that,” Sites says. “Without him, we wouldn’t be here.”

Today, Lake Erie Transportation, which employs a team of 55 full- time and part-time employees at its nearly 40,000-square-foot headquarters, warehouse and truck terminal on West 17th Street, is a comprehensive trucking and logistics company providing services to various parts of the supply chain world. Its operation consists of asset- based trucking and maintenance operation Lake Erie Trucking; short- term crossdocking and warehousing business Lake Erie Crossdock; and, its third-party division, Lake Erie Logistics, which specializes in ground expedite and nationwide logistics solutions.

Lake Erie Trucking — the largest portion of its business — operates 18 to 20 hours a day, five days a week, operating within a 140-mile radius from Erie to Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, Buffalo to Jamestown in New York and west to Cleveland, Ohio. The company provides a wide range of services for transportation commodity freight including less- than-truckload, full truckload and temp-controlled services as well as hot-shot trucking for smaller, time-sensitive loads.

“Whether it is one skid or a truckload of freight, LET’s dedicated group of drivers and management strive to exceed customer expectations and provide on-time services,” Sites says. “First and foremost, we’ve been able to tailor things directly toward our customers.”

John Miller, a sourcing specialist for Graco High Pressure Equipment in Erie, can attest to Lake Erie Transportation’s customer support. The machining manufacturer has used Lake Erie Trucking for various services, and Miller has personally used Lake Erie Trucking for hot- shot/time-critical pickups and deliveries, local pickups and deliveries, as well as pickups and deliveries in the tri-state area. Lake Erie Trucking also has partnered with other trucking companies outside of its daily tri-state areas to help Graco High Pressure Equipment meet vendor/ customer needs.

“LET’s customer service, attention to detail and amazing track record of coming through for us speaks for itself on a daily basis,” states Miller. “They go out of their way to meet our demanding schedule for deliveries and pickups and have a genuine interest in helping us succeed.”

Rearn more in the August 2021 Business Magazine!