When River Place Logistics of Raleigh, North Carolina, launched in 2009, the founders encountered a problem they hadn’t anticipated—the credit crunch that followed the financial crisis. The bank required the principals—Tully Davis, O.B. Moss, Wes Summer, and Boe Davis—to put up their houses as collateral for a loan. But the foursome weren’t worried, thanks to a combined total of 75 years in the transportation business.
In just five-and-a-half years, they’ve grown the company to 16 operations personnel and one agent, who have increased revenues from $12 million the first year to $30 million a year today. They’re supported by two accounting employees who work a combined total of 70 hours a week.
Relying on Relationships
The idea for River Place originated with O.B. Moss, Tully Davis and Wes Summer, who were all working in the transportation logistics field. As much as they enjoyed their jobs, they realized they had the potential to achieve even more by starting their own firm. The men turned to retired industry veteran Boe Davis, who was happy to take on a new challenge with the new company.
The founders of River Place Logistics, (left to right) O.B. Moss, Wes Summer, Tully Davis, and Boe Davis, have grown the company into a successful brokerage.
Today River Place is a non-asset-based brokerage that moves freight all over the country. The company frequently loads trucks in Virginia and the Carolinas, and sends them to California and the Northwest. They then load the same trucks with produce for the return trip to the East Coast. River Place works with many owner-operators who appreciate knowing in advance that they’ll be hauling both ways, year-round.
“We view the carriers as just as important as the shippers, because without both you’re not going to accomplish anything,” said Moss. “When we started, we felt we had good enough relationships on both sides that we could open a company. We’ve proven so far that we made the right decision.”
Getting a Jumpstart with Technology
River Place owners say DAT products have also played an important role in the company’s success. From the beginning, the team chose DAT Load Boards as their go-to source for load postings, because DAT offered access to the most reliable carriers.
Once they saw the capabilities of the DAT Keypoint software, they looked no further for a transportation management software (TMS). The TMS has helped the company increase revenue while keeping overhead costs in check. “The productivity with Keypoint has been fantastic,” said Boe Davis.
Operations and Accounting in One System
The TMS combines operations and accounting in a single system, eliminating the need to enter information more than once—and reducing the chance for human error. From the start, the operations team felt the software met their needs perfectly.
“The system works great,” said Moss. “Entering the orders, entering the carriers, it all just flows so easily.” He particularly likes the capability to vet carriers online and get the information he needs immediately.
On the accounting side, Davis likes being able to close out the books and know profit and loss within a day. “DAT Keypoint gives you a very good, honest, accurate picture,” he said.
With the help of DAT Keypoint, River Place has been able to keep costs under targets. At a meeting of the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), Moss learned that a brokerage was doing well if it produced $1 million a year in revenue per employee. River Place produces almost $1.7 million per employee, a noteworthy achievement.
In addition to solid income potential, River Place offers employees the opportunity to buy ownership in the firm after two years. Moss believes strongly that the staff should feel like they’re a part of the company, not just working for it. River Place also pays employee healthcare costs and matches up to 3 percent on an IRA retirement plan.
One other measure of the company’s success goes back to the original loan. All four founders still have their houses. “Unencumbered, by the way, so we’re in good shape,” said Boe Davis.
Categories: Best Practices and Benchmarks