Revenues at Maine’s second-largest public company are climbing back toward pre-pandemic levels as it adjusts to work-at-home and buy-local market trends that accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic.
Portland-based WEX, which reported record revenue of $1.7 billion in 2019, saw a 21 percent drop in revenue in the second quarter of last year when the pandemic hit Maine. Despite continued losses, revenues have recovered incrementally each quarter since. On Thursday, it reported a 5 percent decline in first-quarter revenue compared to that quarter last year.
Among the major changes at the financial technology company was a new product, the CrossRoads Freight fuel card, announced this month for owners of truck fleets that include long-haul and light-duty vehicles. Customers are focusing more on “last-mile” delivery as retailers like supermarkets turn to local suppliers for products rather than buying products trucked across the country, WEX CEO Melissa Smith said.
Those smaller vehicles are used for local deliveries and tend to refuel in smaller retail gas stations, but the card would let them also refuel and receive discounts at truck stops. The two types of refueling networks typically require separate cards.
That part of WEX’s fleet card business is still relatively new, but it does have a first customer, J.B. Hunt Transport Services of Arkansas.
“It’s shifting our products to where our customers are and where they are interested in working,” she said.
Another pivot came in WEX’s corporate payments business, which saw revenues rise 20 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to that quarter in 2019. Part of the rise came from customers outsourcing more of their accounting processes, another trend Smith expects to continue as customers look for more ways to conduct business electronically.
Smith expects other sectors of WEX’s business, including cards that manage healthcare and travel expenses that are down now, to come back over time. The pandemic threw a wrench into what had been a business with historically predictable patterns, she said.
“We have never been in this environment before, so we just didn’t know what to expect,” she said.