PDS is widely recognized as the oldest name in international publications delivery. Its corporate origins begin with the international freight-forwarding firm of T. A. Coleman & Co., Inc., founded in 1953. Licensed by the Federal Maritime Commission, T. A. Coleman distinguished itself by expediting ocean freight shipments for the United States Department of Commerce, the United States State Department, and numerous multinational companies.
In 1959, T. A. Coleman expanded into the growing airfreight industry by creating a division, Coleman Air Freight System, a member of the International Air Transportation Association (IATA). Coleman Air Freight formed the nucleus of a worldwide network of air cargo agents, building a reputation for integrity and customer service. Coleman Air Freight was the designated forwarding agent for McGraw-Hill’s Business Week magazine, giving the company early expertise in international magazine distribution.
In 1979, a second division, Publications Despatch Service (PDS), was created, becoming the first company in the United States to specialize in the international delivery of subscriber copies of American magazines and journals – long before other companies that compete in this industry began.
During the early 1980’s, meetings with major international publishing companies, as well as professional, trade, and membership organizations, revealed an acute need for an alternative to the international services offered by the United States Postal Service (USPS) – one that would enhance delivery times for both air and surface mail, at reduced costs. After analyzing circulation data, air and ocean transport schedules, and international postal services, PDS created the world’s first "hub" mailing system, with distribution centers established in Canada, the United Kingdom (for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa), Singapore (for Asia, the Far East, and the Pacific), and Panama (for the Caribbean and Latin America). The combination of air and ocean freight, coupled with regional mailing, outperformed comparable USPS services in both cost and delivery. Within a very short period of time, virtually every major international publisher and organization subscribed to PDS' pioneering distribution system. PDS became the largest sender of American publications to foreign countries of any company in the United States.
The rapid pace of technology and industrial development during the 90’s required even faster dissemination of knowledge. A system was needed that would be less dependent on selective postal services, and less subject to fluctuations in international postal rates. The first to foresee the limitations of the "hub" system of mailing, PDS once again pioneered the growing mail forwarding industry by creating its unique Direct Entry Network throughout the world. Publishers could now have the vast majority of their worldwide circulation air freighted directly to the subscriber's country, and posted (or hand-delivered) locally. PDS became the first company in the United States to enter into contracts directly with postal services overseas. For an increasing number of destinations, publications were prepared to letter-carrier specifications at PDS sorting facilities in the United States, and consigned directly to the postal service in the country of destination. Post office vehicles met the incoming flights and the publications immediately entered the mail stream. This eliminated the time and costs of customs clearance, transport, and agents' sorting operations.
This new decade marks a revolution in PDS’ international mail capabilities. With the formation of Flexible International Mail Systems, Inc., in 2003, the PDS network of global mailing points was infused with state-of-the-art technology. From the time a publisher’s mailing list is received until publications are speeding along to subscribers around the world, technology is used throughout the entire mailing process.
Technological innovations have helped PDS optimize mail routes, reduce handling costs and turnaround times, and offer clients an international mailing service that’s unmatched by any other provider. As a result, the company is well positioned to remain an industry leader for many years to come, delivering innovative solutions that help our clients grow and succeed.