The Shipping News: Kalispell man receives top industry award

Print Article

With more than 25 years of work in the transportation industry, Peter Saunders knows a thing or two about shipping.

And as the Unishippers franchise owner for the state of Montana, he recently drew accolades from the company for his work.

Saunders, of Kalispell, earned one of Unishippers’ six gold awards given to franchisees that showed the greatest growth in new customer acquisition, total growth in number of customers and profitability over last year in their respective territory sizes.

It’s the third consecutive year he has won an industry award in the midsized franchise category.

Founded in 1987, Unishippers is the largest reseller of shipping services in the nation, with close to 300 franchise locations.

The company works with more than 30 regional and national shipping carriers such as United Postal Service to handle the pickup, transport and delivery of customers’ shipments. By leveraging the combined shipping volume of all its customers, Unishippers gets significantly discounted rates from its carriers, which results in lower shipping costs, Saunders explained.

Saunders relocated to Kalispell in 2000 from Anchorage, where he worked for barge, steamship and trucking companies in the freight business. He worked in the traffic department of CityService Valcon before buying the Unishippers franchise six years ago.

“At first it was a lot of shoe leather” setting up accounts, he said. “Now I’ve developed a great referral network.”

Saunders said Unishippers can help small and midsized businesses improve the quality of their shipping services while reducing costs.

“With our buying power, we can go to carriers and get lower rates,” he said.

Unishippers acts as a clearing house, allowing customers to get freight quotes and choose the carrier they want, he said.

“It can be as automated and independent as they want, or totally verbal and hands-on,” Saunders said. “Freight can be a pain in the rear. We make it easy. We bring [businesses] a suite of carriers.”

Saunders has the equivalent of eight to nine full-time contracted employees who handle his franchise’s volume of 4,000 to 6,000 shipments a day.

“Someone always answers the phone,” he noted.

Saunders and his employees can sign up customers anywhere in the United States. The franchise also does business in Canada.

Saunders said the gold award “is a testament to our great local office staff as well as the support and customer-facing tools we receive from corporate.”

His franchise did very well throughout the recession because as the economy worsened, businesses began looking for innovative ways to save money.

“Prior to the recession, simplifying rates wasn’t on their minds,” he said. “Now that the economy is picking up, referrals are more frequent than ever.”

 Unishippers serves more than 50,000 small to midsized businesses annually and has been recognized as a top franchise by Entrepreneur, Franchise Times and AllBusiness.

“Happy franchisees translate into satisfied customers and increased sales,” Unishippers President Kevin Lathrop said in a prepared statement.”

For information on Unishippers, visit


Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by e-mail at

Print Article

Read More Local

Online rare-guitar store has Bigfork presence

May 19, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake If he had unlimited funds, Chris Wilcox of Bigfork would have been the perfect customer for his guitar-resale business, Roadhouse Vintage. His love for guitars is so obsessive that at one time he h...


Read More


May 12, 2019 at 3:48 pm | Daily Inter Lake • ClassOne Technology, a supplier of new wet process tools to the 200 mm and below semiconductor manufacturing industry headquartered in Kalispell, has sold its flagship Solstice S8 and Solstice...


Read More

Evergreen auto detailing business expands to windshield work

May 05, 2019 at 3:30 pm | Daily Inter Lake Keith McAtee, owner of Grime 2 Shine, has seen extremes in the automotive detailing business. Montana roads may lead to adventure, but that adventure is not without dirt, dust, gravel, tar and mayb...


Read More

Evergreen’s Plant Land is popular go-to garden center

May 05, 2019 at 3:29 pm | Daily Inter Lake Plant Land, a year-round wonderland of green, is a family owned and operated greenhouse and garden center that put down roots in Evergreen in 1986. As the winter wears on each year, a sign in front ...


Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2019 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy