Technology, Trucks, and Trains: Robert Nathan and the Freight Fast-Lane

by / ⠀Entrepreneur Interviews / August 23, 2010

robert nathanThis week we caught up with c the 28 year old graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder and co-founder of Load Delivered Logistics, LLC. While so many young people are jumping into tech startups trying to build the next facebook, Robert dove into the more traditional transportation industry. It seems as though he made the right move. Load Delivered is expected to do 14million in 2010 sales and 30million in 2011. His clients include 20 fortune 500 companies and numerous privately held corporations.

Robert explains how the transportation market is huge and provides endless opportunity for companies involved. He also touches on what it was like starting Load Delivered and gives his thoughts on how to manage Gen Y…

Could you explain what Load Delivered Logistics, LLC is?

Load Delivered is a freight logistics and distribution firm that enables companies to deliver merchandise to a destination in a faster, more cost effective, and “greener” way. For example, we are working with Deckers Outdoor Corp (Nasdaq: DECK) to roll out their new Miami and Orlando UGG® Retail Stores. The members of the Load Delivered Team are mostly 20-somethings who are energized by the potential of working in the transportation industry and are dedicated to building strong customer relationships. Load Delivered also benefits from its innovative customized technology platform, which enables our
team to leverage truck capacity and operational support to provide supply-chain solutions to customers.

The world today is full of online startup companies. What made you jump into the transportation industry?

The transportation of goods is a key part of our economy. It’s a $162-billion dollar U.S. logistics marketplace, according to the Transportation Intermediaries Association. Everything we eat or drink, the objects in our offices, homes, stores, etc have all been transported by a plane, train, truck, or automobile. The industry has also remained fragmented which has provided an opportunity for Load Delivered to market our services to a variety of industries. As a company, we pride ourselves in our
ability to treat our customers’ customer as our own. Once the shipment is off a customer’s dock, they can sit back, relax, and ThinkLoadDelivered™.

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What was the hardest part about starting Load Delivered and what is the hardest part about running it today?

The most challenging aspect was not having an immediate infrastructure or a logistical platform to implement our business model. We had zero infrastructure in a business that relies on technological infrastructure. We spent our first days of Load Delivered on our hands and knees plugging in phones and setting up computers. Launching Load Delivered during the economic meltdown in 2008 was also challenging, but it provided an opportunity to engage companies that wanted or needed to decrease their overall transportation spending. As for managing, it was initially difficult for me to let go and delegate, until I realized that management is truly about achieving desired results through others. We have also hired a great crew of capable and talented people.

Were you doing anything before you started a company? What made you decide to start your own company?

It’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t want to be a businessman. One of my first entrepreneurial memories is when I was 6 years old. I vividly recall the excitement of convincing an older boy that he should buy our lemonade because it wasn’t just lemonade, it was ice-cold lemonade with round shaped ice-cubes and no holes in the middle.

When I was 16, I wanted to earn enough money to purchase a car. I worked all summer delivering screws, nuts, and bolts for my father’s fastener company. He named me the “Vice President of Transportation”, but in reality, I was the delivery boy. He would send me on deliveries all over Chicago, and I was fascinated by the different types and sizes of businesses that would
order our screws. Little did I know that 10 years later, the transportation industry would be the starting
point for my entrepreneurial career.

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You mention you have hired numerous staff made up of Gen Y. How have you managed them? Do you see benefits or negatives of working with this generation?

We manage Gen Y the way they want to be managed. Gen Y grew up in an environment where entrepreneurial spirit was fostered and encouraged, so Gen Yers need autonomy to prosper within an organization. At Load Delivered, our objective is to construct a non-corporate atmosphere, with the kind of high energy, highly competitive work-environment that recent college graduates thrive in. The dress code is comprised of shorts, sandals and even hats if they want. We don’t believe in cubicles, we have one open “Floor” in order to increase communication and build an environment that facilitates collaboration and teamwork. This is 2010, our generation does not want to tack up pictures and calendars on cubicle walls.

One of the challenges of our generation is that we want everything instantly and may have some unrealistic expectations. We grew up in the 90’s, in a society where many parents pushed us to be best in sports, music, the most popular, or whatever the pursuit happened to be. But the unrealistic expectations of the “microwave generation” might also be the driving force for our success.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a young entrepreneur just starting out?

Be relentless, resilient, learn from your elders, and don’t let anyone out-work you.

What is next for you and Load Delivered Logistics?

We are moving into a new 15,000 sq foot Corporate Headquarters in September and will be aggressively interviewing new candidates for the Load Delivered Crew. Also, my partner (Jon Michelon, the financing behind Load Delivered) and I have formed Lock&Load Properties, LLC , which aims to acquire depressed industrial space throughout the Midwest so that we can make the transition into the warehousing game and expand our service offerings.

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