Ron's background in corporate America taught him many lessons. First, much of the creativity had been removed from the workplace and replaced with a culture of “finger pointing”. Second, he learned that everyone is disposable in large companies, especially at corporate level positions.
In 2009, Ron could endure corporate life no longer and sought a career change reflecting his personal values.
He and a former co-worker decided that they wanted to run the show while staying within an industry they understood. Ron's expertise was in landfill design construction including the related facets of logistics in waste management. Both men were confident that they could lead the way.
The two men took over the operations of a struggling landfill company in Pennsylvania. Over the next three years, they turned what had been a $6 million business into a much larger company generating over $20 million annually.
They attribute their success to great customer service, their ability to win large contracts, and training their employees better than anyone else in the area.
In 2013, the company was sold for a handsome profit. Ron and his partner both earned commissions from the sale allowing them opportunities to invest in new endeavors.
THE NEXT PHASE
For the next year, Ron researched various delivery businesses for sale in Bridgeport, West Virginia. If he could navigate garbage trucks through landfills, then navigating other kinds of trucks through a city would be easy. Or so he thought.
“We looked into all kinds of franchises and we were approved to own a Jimmy John's territory, but the cities we wanted were not available,” recalls Levine.
“A link popped up during my online searches that led me to a video produced by a business broker showing how to buy a FedEx Ground operation. I was intrigued because I knew there was a local terminal in Bridgeport. So, I decided to drive there,” says Levine.
“Nobody here knows me, but I want to buy a FedEx route,” were Ron's words when he drove up to the gate of the FedEx Ground terminal in Bridgeport.
That kind of a bold statement piqued the Terminal Manager’s curiosity. He invited this unexpected visitor inside for a chat and the rest is history. Today, Ron and his team operate Better Logistics, Inc. – one of the most successful P&D contracting operations in the United States.
THE WILD WEST
The timing they began the FedEx Ground contracting operation was unfortunate and they were told they were doomed to failure because it was so close to peak (September 2014).
“I was used to dealing with 2,000 tons of trash. How hard can this be?” thought Ron to himself.
The business the men acquired did not have a fantastic culture. In fact, it was terrible. Drivers called off at will and routes were claimed as their own. Levine describes it as “The Wild West”.
He started leading the drivers by explaining his new management style to the team, and that he understood the world of getting on and off trucks a hundred or more times a day. He also made it known that routes belonged to the business, not specific drivers.
As expected, drivers wouldn’t adjust to the new culture, refused to stay on board and turned in their notices.
“Sometimes you have to navigate the bumpy roads to find out how to get to the smooth parts,” quotes Ron. “A guy driving a 1200 challenged me which ultimately led to our shaking hands and telling him his services were no longer needed," he recalls.
You need a culture where everyone is involved, but not irreplaceable. Respect that is given is usually returned. I’ve learned that leadership requires a combination of fear, love and respect,” says Levine.
Better Logistics, Inc. grew from 8 trucks to more than 20 trucks in short order from buying other FXG contracting businesses that had received Letters to Cure. According to Levine, it seemed like out-of-state absentee owners were being offered up for acquisition on a regular basis.
After significant growth, Ron faced his first contract renegotiation. That is when he reached out to the experts at eTruckBiz.
“What can eTruckBiz offer me?” was Ron’s first question. He learned that the reports generated within the eTruckBiz system provided the most thorough forecasting analysis available to contractors. The data generated is based upon historical information combined with highly accurate future modeling.
He obviously liked the response.
THE POWER OF NEGOTIATIONS
The reason I chose eTruckBiz to guide me through the negotiation process is because it eliminated a lot of my own number crunching. Why read the whole novel when you can read the short story version?”
The outstanding customer service is what keeps him returning to eTruckBiz for subsequent negotiations and analysis. He says the snapshot reports separated by routes are much easier to interpret than poring over the DSW’s.
“The iterations I received were great. I was prepared to just accept whatever, but my eTruckBiz team advised me that by negotiating for a penny here and a penny there on 2,000,000
packages a year adds up,” he suggests.
And I’ll tell you something else, eTruckBiz brought clarity to the negotiation process. The ‘other side’ prefers the negotiations to seem convoluted for obvious reasons
“We’re like everybody who’s navigating these choppy waters. We continue trying to reinvent ourselves. What we did yesterday doesn’t mean that’s what we’re doing tomorrow. It requires evolving the business. We’ve taken a posture of getting bigger in a smaller area because that’s how we’re wired. It’s easy to lose money if you don’t change your procedures. Our goal now is to manage growth in a profitable way by decreasing our footprint,” Ron advises.
Ron's team is well on their way to a profitable future.