Vinnie Schleper and Ben Nadeau launched Volta Logistics in May of 2015 as two-person team. Within 18 months, however, the company had already grown to 12 employees. Schleper and Nadeau expect that growth to continue.
Volta's strategy includes three main principles: (1) find a niche, (2) develop personal connections with customers, and (3) deploy technologies and tools that support fast and frictionless growth.
Vinnie Schleper (left) and Ben Nadeau (right) of Volta Logistics
Connecting with customers
Before founding the St. Paul, Minnesota-based company, both Schleper and Nadeau had spent years working for other brokerages. The two met while working for the same company, and they decided to strike out on their own.
"We wanted to bring back that personal relationship with the customer. We just weren't seeing that," said Volta co-founder Vinnie Schleper. "That's why we decided to start our own company."
Although Volta will move any type of freight, the company specializes in overweight and over-dimensional cargo types that require flatbeds, open decks and step decks. Shippers hire Volta to help move big excavators, job site machinery, pipe and other raw materials, according to Schleper.
Starting with a few key customers, Volta’s business grew by word of mouth. Shippers spread the message that Volta had the knowledge and skill to move specialized freight. More business poured in.
TMS built for growth
Volta's founders had planned for growth, beginning with the company's first business plan. Schleper and Nadeau relied on technology tools and systems as part of this business strategy. One of their first decisions was to manage their operations and accounting systems with DAT Keypoint, a transportation management software (TMS) system designed for freight brokers.
“Ben and I have been using DAT load boards forever, but we never knew that DAT made a TMS for brokers,” said Schleper. “Even before launching the business, we researched a number of TMS products, and DAT Keypoint was the best fit for us,” he said.
“I liked the ease of use and the short learning curve,” Schleper continued. “With Keypoint, every button has a purpose, and it isn’t bogged down with functions that we have no use for. The flow of the software matches the normal progression of our operations. If I hadn’t been trained on it, I probably could have figured out how to use it on my own.”
That ease of use was especially critical when Volta began to bring on new employees, including some with no previous freight brokering experience.
“This is a fast-paced business and when you bring in new people they have to hit the ground running,” Schleper said. “Having a TMS that minimizes the learning curve and training time is a huge plus for us.”
Adding productivity tools
DAT Keypoint also offered add-on modules to improve employee efficiency. For example, Volta chose to integrate the DAT Power load board into the TMS. That integration module enables Volta’s brokers to post loads and search trucks within the TMS, without opening a separate browser window.
Volta also integrated DAT CarrierWatch™ a carrier qualification and monitoring system. Volta defined specific policies and criteria within the DAT Keypoint TMS, establishing thresholds for carrier authority, safety and insurance levels. The TMS won’t allow brokers to load any carrier unless it meets those requirements.
Currently, Volta has 10 employees who broker freight, and two employees who handle back-office functions such as accounting. DAT Keypoint enables the company to continue expanding its operations staff, while keeping back office staff small, according to Schleper.
“Keypoint is great because it can grow with us,” Schleper said. “There are no limits on how fast we can grow.”