Tell us about your career at Transplace.
Transplace manages freight transportation for many North American manufacturers and retailers.
I joined the business in December 2003. I was brought in to turn around the company. It was losing a significant amount of money and the founding companies had lost interest in the business. Six large trucking companies founded Transplace in 2000 and their CEOs knew me from my many years in the logistics industry.
The founders hired me to fix and then sell the business. I did better than that. We fixed it and then we bought it from the founders with help from private equity backing in 2009. Since buying the company in 2009, we have completed 7 acquisitions and the company has more than 4 times as much revenue today.
What was your career before you joined Transplace?
I have an undergraduate degree in management from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a master’s in business administration in logistics from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.
I’ve been working in the transportation and logistics industry since 1980. My career has included a stint in the consulting industry. I ran my own software company for a period of time, and I sold that to Sabre Holdings. Then I led the Sabre logistics business for three years. In the dot-com era I ran a smaller company for a couple of years. And that led me to Transplace.
What is your view of the business climate in Texas?
I love doing business in Texas. I moved here from Massachusetts, where a successful businessperson is viewed as a villain. I think it’s a good thing to create jobs and be successful.
In Texas, the tax environment is very favorable. The towns in this state do a lot to welcome businesses to their communities.
We have a lot of strong universities throughout Texas. And Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is fantastic. You can get anywhere on a non-stop flight.
In addition, Texas is adding capacity to its highways. You just don’t see that anywhere else in the country. The infrastructure is incredibly valuable for business. What’s springing up along the Highway 121 corridor is just fantastic.
Why did you decide to join YTexas?
I’m always telling people what a great place Texas is to do business. I wasn’t aware there was an organization that was out here to encourage other CEOs to move to this state.
What makes Transplace different?
We manage several billion dollars of freight transportation. We don’t own trucks, so we can look out for what’s best for the customer. We can ensure we get the right trucking company that will deliver the right value for the customer.
Our technology is another big differentiator. We use our own software, and we become our clients’ transportation management system.
Another strength we have is our capacity for managing cross border freight. We’ve become strong in Mexico. Trade is booming between that country and the United States. A lot of people are afraid of getting into that business. But we do very well at it.
What issues are affecting your company?
Most of our issues are at the federal level.
In the area of federal regulation of freight transportation, a lot of regulations have come out to improve safety. Unfortunately, they aren’t improving safety, but are driving up the cost of freight transportation.
Texas does a better job than most in highway infrastructure. We’ve built out the interstate highway system with a fuel tax approach.
Those fees need to be increased. It’s a fair way to raise money. The Consumer Price Index is up 60 percent since 1993, when the feds last raised fuel taxes.
On another front, I hear a lot of people complain about the public school system. Frisco has tremendous public schools. Texas could lead the country in vouchers for elementary, junior and high school education. We could set an example of how the free market could led the country in improving our education system.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
I was a craps dealer in Las Vegas in the 1970s.
I had graduated from the University of Massachusetts in three years, and then I went into my MBA program. I was broke and tired of school, so I went to Vegas to raise some money.
Separately, I volunteer in something called the Prison Entrepreneurship Program. They work with felons who are near release from prison. A lot of those guys have good skills in areas like leadership, communication and entrepreneurship, but they’ve applied them in the wrong direction.
The program has a business plan competition, where they guys in prison develop plans for businesses they’ll create once they get out of prison. There is a winner of the competition, and a nice graduation ceremony. It’s an uplifting event.
The recidivism rate for guys who go through the program is very low.