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XPO promotes logistics veteran to lead last-mile unit

Erik Caldwell will run company’s all-important North American business

Erik Caldwell, XPO Logistics' new last-mile head (Photo: XPO Logistics)

Transport and logistics giant XPO Logistics Inc. (NYSE: XPO) said it has named Erik Caldwell president of its North American last-mile business unit.

Caldwell joined Greenwich, Connecticut-based XPO in 2017 as chief operating officer of supply chain for the Americas and Asia Pacific. Caldwell has P&L responsibility for XPO’s last-mile operations in the U.S. and Canada, the company said.

XPO runs the nation’s largest last-mile delivery segment for heavy goods such as appliances, exercise equipment and furniture. It manages more than 10 million home deliveries and installations per year. The unit has seen strong growth during the COVID-19 pandemic as Americans spending more time at home have ramped up their purchases of durable goods. 

Before joining XPO, Caldwell was senior vice president of supply chain and digital operations for retailer Hudson’s Bay Co. Prior to that, he was vice president of global Rx operations for Italian eyewear conglomerate Luxottica. Caldwell also served as director of retail solutions for express and logistics provider DHL. Earlier he was a regional director of last-mile operations at DHL.

Caldwell has a master’s degree in supply chain management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Drew Wilkerson, XPO’s president of North American transportation, said in a statement that Caldwell’s expertise is a “strong fit with our last-mile growth strategy as we continue to capitalize on e-commerce and omnichannel opportunities.” 

Caldwell’s appointment comes at a pivotal moment for XPO and all last-mile delivery operators. E-commerce volumes, which are always robust during the holiday season,  are expected to break records in 2020 as health-related concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic suppress in-store buying.

Online sales of big and bulky items are expected to remain buoyant as consumers increase their holiday consumption and look to update and add value to their home spaces. Many consumers have become comfortable with e-commerce ordering during the pandemic. That comfort level is expected to extend through the holidays and beyond.

XPO, whose last-mile operation focuses on heavy goods, entered the last-mile business in August 2013 when it acquired 3PD Inc., then the largest last-mile heavy goods delivery provider in North America, for $365 million. 

So-called large-format items have been the fastest growing segment of e-commerce deliveries, though they still represent a minority of all online transactions. This has caused problems for parcel carriers who have experienced a surge in delivery orders for big and bulky items but whose automated conveyor systems are not configured to process them. In recent years, the carriers have imposed special-handling surcharges on items with outsize dimensions that have driven up their costs to serve.

Online orders of heavy goods are expected to increase in the years ahead as retailers broaden the number of stock-keeping units (SKUs) listed on their websites. Reflecting the need to respond to the projected growth, FedEx Corp. (NYSE:FDX) said late last week it will build three U.S. facilities dedicated to processing orders of large-format items, and will expand five others for the same purpose. The project is expected to be completed by the start of FedEx’s upcoming peak season, the Memphis-based company said.

Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.