Distribution & logistics is big business in WNY, with more than 2,000 companies employing more than 30,000 people. Why? Location, location, location.
It is often said that Buffalo is within 500 miles of half the population of the U.S. and Canada, and more than 50% of their combined manufacturing. What you may not know, is how far back our distribution & logistics roots go in WNY and the famous names that have been involved…
In 1850, an express mail company was founded in Buffalo by Henry Wells, William Fargo and John Warren Butterfield, the same group that would later found Wells Fargo & Co. Their company was known as American Express (yes, that American Express!) and would handle the express shipments of financial properties like goods, securities and currency throughout New York State. Wells Fargo & Co. would later extend that distribution & logistics model to California utilizing railroads, ships, covered wagons and even the famed Pony Express until Wells Fargo was considered more reliable than the U.S. Postal Service for serving California!
American Express would also move its operations to California before settling its headquarters in New York City. Gradually, American Express’ business shifted more toward financial services, until AmEx became best known for its travelers checks (introduced in 1891) and later its credit cards (introduced in 1958).
Today, WNY companies like Speed Global Services, Sonwil Distribution and Supply Chain Optimizers are just a few examples of the many companies that carry on the distribution and logistics work begun here more than 150 years ago. Although both American Express and Wells Fargo are now known as financial services companies, their WNY lineage remains an historic example of how strong, well-performing business models can transform themselves from small beginnings into regional powers or even into national and international brands.