In the months following the 1987 stock market crash, times were tough for our founder and Managing Director, Ben Evans. Ben’s employer’s business had failed and Ben was left wondering what the future held. He recognized a developing trend overseas where more and more organizations were contracting out their physical distribution activities such as warehousing and materials handling to achieve greater flexibility and efficiency of their supply chain. Ben seized an opportunity to start a logistics company called ‘GDL’ which would later change its name to Online Distribution Services. The company had just one client, an Australian business which needed warehousing and distribution facilities in New Zealand. GDL set up warehouses in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland and from its inception faced many challenges. Against the expectations of many, including the bank, Ben grew the business into a healthy nationwide operation. This became an attractive prospect for the Freightways Group which acquired 50% of the business initially and the balance a few years later. The decision to sell was a difficult one for Ben so when circumstances changed in 1995, he bought back the South Island component of the business and embraced the challenges ahead. As a result of his vision and leadership, the business took off. Before long there was a dedicated team of ten, operating four warehouses in Christchurch. As the trend for outsourced logistics continued to grow, Ben took an opportunity to acquire Meadows Southern Logistics Limited from UTI Worldwide Incorporated. A further two warehouses were opened in Christchurch in order to cater for this expansion and it was at this point that Online Distribution really started to make its presence known in the logistics market.
As more and more companies began to consider the benefits they could gain from outsourcing their logistics, Ben and his team recognized there was a real need to have storage and distribution facilities operating at both ends of the country. The decision was made to open a warehouse in Auckland and clients were soon benefitting from the nationwide storage and distribution efficiencies provided. Over the past decade, the size and number of warehouse facilities in both Auckland and Christchurch have increased to accommodate the company’s growing client base. The business now operates from eleven modern and efficient warehouse facilities including an 7525 m2 state-of-the-art warehousing and distribution center that was designed and built in Christchurch. The company has recently completed construction of another 5000 m2 storage and distribution facility at Portlink Industrial Park in Christchurch. This new facility will provide benefits to clients by increased efficiency of the warehouse design and implementation of new technology. These purpose built facilities are strategically located, together with the company’s head office building, on or nearby Port Hills Road, the main arterial link road between Lyttelton Port and Christchurch City.
Today, Online Distribution remains a privately owned family business with a team of more than 110 dedicated, passionate and hard working people successfully operating eleven warehouses strategically located in Christchurch and Auckland. Online Distribution provides logistical solutions for more than 200 diverse and forward thinking companies ranging from ‘start-ups’ to multi-national corporations. Ben and the staff at Online Distribution are extremely proud of the company, its beginnings and its sound history of enabling other people and their businesses to succeed.