Delivery With A Star On Top

In the package delivery industry, the Big Three of United Parcel Service, Fed Ex and the financially-troubled U.S Postal Service dominate. But in recent years, more and more companies and individuals have turned to a thriving Traverse City-based business to solve their delivery problems.

Star Delivery Solutions (SDS), started in 2006 by Debi Piette-Wilson, operates distribution centers and warehouses in both Traverse City and Grand Rapids. From those locations the staff provides expedited and regularly scheduled deliveries and other services.

On a daily basis, the SDS team delivers packages and serves clients in an area roughly from Traverse City to Sault Ste. Marie and east to Alpena and southeast to Midland. From Grand Rapids, they deliver down to the Indiana border. There’s services to major Michigan cities six days a week, with overnight service available from TC to Grand Rapids.

“We fill a niche,” explained Piette-Wilson. “I don’t look as Fed Ex or UPS as competitors, I look at them as potential customers. There are times when they are short of drivers, such as during the holidays or other times, and they call us for backup services.”

State of the art technology enables SDS to serve clients quickly and efficient.

“Around the clock we give high quality, easy to use services coupled with customer service people who “speak your language” and understand how your business runs,” said Piette-Wilson, who has more than three decades of experience in the distribution/shipping industry. “Our leading edge technology tracks all shipment activity and provides our clients visibility on the key milestones in the process.”

SDS uses the industry-leading Xcelerator Courier Dispatch & Logistics Management Software platform to provide fast order entry, detailed dispatch management and communication tools. It also gives the client a complete warehouse, inventory and distribution management system for dozens, hundreds or thousands of packages per day. SDS can provide customized shipment detail reports, online order entry and tracking, too.

Piette-Wilson moved to Traverse City in 2002 to work for another delivery company. When it was later sold, she saw an opportunity to take the risk and launch her first entrepreneurial adventure, just as the economy was poised for a downturn. “Yeah, I took the plunge,” she laughed. “But it was into cold water and there was a lot of ice out there.”

Piette-Wilson began her career in transportation in 1983 when she was a key player in the start up of the Express Department of PDQ Air Service, the company that is now known as AirNet. In 1988, she left to work in the logistics industry where she held management positions. She was fascinated by the wide range of industries the delivery and logistics industries serves and knew that was ultimately where she wanted to be.

Getting SDS off the ground was a challenge but she relied on her list of industry contacts to slowly grow the business. Still, it was four or five years before it began to steadily expand. Since 2010, the firm has experienced 20 to 30 percent growth annually, according to Piette-Wilson.

“We grow every day,” she said. “Even when the economy was bad, there was always a growth opportunity, no matter the outcome. But you have to be careful about growth. It’s possible to grow so fast that you can’t keep up with it. Our goal for 2015 is smart growth, more conservative growth.”

In 2008, SDS bought Mr. Messenger, a TC-area messaging/delivery service. Since then SDS provides quick delivery of messages, packages, letters, legal papers and other services across town.

“It’s a great service with a small town local feel that we love,” she said.

Traverse City clients who have turned to SDS to help with their deliveries include Britten Studios, Cone Drive and Frontier Computers.

Depending on seasonal needs, the company has 20 to 30 full and part-time employees, plus a squadron of 50 to 55 intrepid delivery drivers who are contract workers. The SDS team is pretty evenly split between Traverse City and Grand Rapids.

Is winter weather a big problem for a firm that provides around the clock services?

“The folks we contract with to drive are used to being out on the roads every day in all types of weather,” Piette-Wilson said. “But if it’s too risky, they don’t drive. No package is worth a tragic accident. But over the years, there have only been four days when we were shut down.”

SDS is located at 1622 Northern Star Drive, in an industrial park near the intersection of Garfield and Hammond roads. To learn more, visit