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Why Central Ohio Is a Logistics Hub—and Tips on Selecting a 3PL

Why Central Ohio Is a Logistics Hub—and Tips on Selecting a 3PL

In today’s marketplace, logistics is demand-driven. If products aren’t readily accessible to consumers, they’ll go to other sources to meet their needs. 

Because of this, perfecting a logistics solution for your company is crucial.

With its diverse economy made up of retail and manufacturing industries, as well as its central location (77 percent of the U.S. population is within a two-day transit time), the Columbus region is an ideal location for supply chain distribution operations and facilities. 

Establishing a Columbus logistics operation makes for a great strategic solution for your transportation needs. In this blog, we’ll discuss what makes central Ohio a logistics hub, as well as share tips on selecting a third-party logistics (3PL) provider.

Factors That Make the Columbus Region a True Logistics Hub

Rickenbacker International Airport (LCK)

Columbus is home to one of the world’s only cargo-dedicated airports—Rickenbacker International Airport (LCK). What takes others days, takes Rickenbacker International hours. Less time means more profits. Rickenbacker International is free of congestion and curfews, and immediate unloading upon landing means time savings, creating greater efficiencies and quicker speed-to-market. The airport is also a vital component of the North American International Freight Center, which is the collection of world-class logistics assets in the Columbus region.

A Wide Reach

Located at the center of the most densely populated area of the country, the Columbus region is a strategic location for the movement of goods. More than 4,400 logistics and distribution operations employing over 83,000 employees thrive on the region’s interstate highway system, 3PL companies, and multiple rail terminals. 

Columbus Warehouse


Quick Facts

  • Access to 46 percent of the U.S. population and 46 percent of the U.S. manufacturing capacity within a 10-hour truck drive
  • Crossed by eight major interstate highways
  • Air cargo routes to premier air cargo hubs in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East
  • Heartland Corridor allows double-stacked freight trains to travel between Rickenbacker and Virginia ports
  • Nation’s second-lowest effective tax rate on new distribution centers

Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) #138

Columbus is one of the most active FTZ zones in the U.S. The nation's top FTZ for the total value of imported textiles and footwear is #138, moving more than $6.2 billion of the nation's total $8.9 billion in the category. Four intermodal terminals provide access to world markets and seaports.

Tips on Selecting a 3PL Logistics Provider in Columbus

Now that you know some of the factors that make the Columbus region an ideal place to locate your distribution facilities—and you’re ready to do so—consider partnering with a 3PL logistics provider.

Finding the right 3PL is a crucial decision; the success of your firm's operations rely on your choice. For many companies considering partnering with a 3PL logistics provider, the process can quickly become overwhelming when you are met with hundreds of options to choose from.

Here are some tips for selecting the right 3PL provider in the Columbus region:

Make Sure They Have Access to Local Labor Talent

The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business is ranked in the top 10 among supply chain and logistics programs nationally at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Other notable programs include Columbus State Community College’s supply chain management associate program and Franklin University’s logistics management program specifically designed for adults.

The right 3PL provider gives you access to a scalable pool of resources that allow you to meet business objectives as they arise. Are you anticipating a busy period or experiencing rapid growth? You can expand your shipping and distribution capabilities quickly, efficiently, and without costly investment in:

  • Labor
  • Equipment
  • Facilities

Workers in Columbus logistics warehouse checking the inventory


The relationships that many 3PL providers have with the local labor pool can open up opportunities for you to receive volume discounts, lower overhead costs, and timelier service.

Make Sure They’re Strategically Aligned With Your Company’s Objectives

3PL logistics providers must play a strategic role in your company, and any strong partnership should address how your 3PL can be a part of your growth. 

The 3PL should bring specific value and expertise to enhance your operations and supply chain. Partner with a 3PL on as many areas as possible to drive down costs, increase market share, and create a competitive advantage. 

If there’s a bad strategic fit, it will almost certainly lead to an underperforming partnership in the long term. When speaking with 3PL companies, make sure they understand and are aligned with your:

  • Organization ownership structure
  • Domestic vs. global operations
  • Organized labor vs. non-organized labor
  • Company history and milestones
  • Company values
  • Mission and strategy (short- and long-term company goals)

Make Sure They Have an Understanding of Your Industry

Look for a logistics solutions provider that knows your industry. A 3PL company with experience in your industry will have a better understanding of regulations, similar order profiles, retailer relationships (including vendor scorecards and best practices), and inventory management. If they understand your business, they’ll provide proactive recommendations to continuously improve your supply chain.

For example, products all have different requirements in terms of receiving, storing, packing, and shipping. If you sell cosmetics, consumer electronics, food and beverage products, or something else, a 3PL’s specific experience is important based on your product mix.

Additionally, a 3PL logistics provider that can produce evidence of success will prevail over competitors that just tell you that they know what they are doing. A company claiming they have the know-how to handle diverse products is not enough. Clear illustrations of achievement should be provided. Does the 3PL provide customer references or case studies? If not, go elsewhere.

Set Your Company up for Success

As a 3PL provider specializing in integrated logistics solutions, ODW Logistics helps companies make smarter choices about warehousing, e-commerce fulfillment, and transportation decisions so they can streamline costs and operate more efficiently.

With 14 multi-purpose distribution centers (shared and dedicated) in Columbus, ODW can provide:

  • Scalability with customer business growth
  • Flexibility in space during unforeseen spikes
  • Labor sharing within and across distribution centers 
  • Omni-channel experience across various consumer industry verticals
  • Leadership flexibility from site to site
  • Consolidation of LTL loads and deliveries—transportation savings
  • Various space offerings (low-budget to high-end food-grade)

Headquartered in Columbus, ODW can also provide:

  • Support resources within 15-30 minutes of all locations
  • Executive visibility and support on-site within minutes
  • Leadership flexibility and support
  • Strong understanding of the labor landscape and industrial real estate market
  • Implementation and project support teams within minutes of locations

As your 3PL partner, ODW will help you get your product to your customers as efficiently as possible—saving you time and money along the way.

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