Each year, companies across the country apply for the Inc. 500|5000, Inc. magazine’s prestigious list of America’s fastest growing private companies. Each year, 5000 make the cut. But this year is different. While the number of companies that received the 2013 designation remained the same, parcel spend management firms Transportation Impact and First Flight Solutions, which is owned by Transportation Impact, added an uncommon twist. Both companies made it; and both companies operate under the same roof. “Since my partner, Travis Burt, and I founded Transportation Impact in 2008, we’ve had our eyes on the Inc. 500|5000 list from day one,” said Transportation Impact Co-founder Keith Byrd. “To be included among the nation’s fastest growing private companies is a dream come true, but having two companies make it? That’s something I don’t think even we could dream up. “And our employees will be the first to tell you that we dream up some pretty ambitious goals.”
In its first issue in 1979, Inc. magazine published the Inc. 100 fastest-growing privately held companies; in 1982, the list expanded to the Inc. 500, and in 2007, Inc. magazine, in conjunction with Inc.com, released the first Inc. 5000 list.
To qualify for the 2013 Inc. 500|5000, a company must be privately-owned, based in the United States and independent. In addition, a company must have started earning revenue by March 31, 2009, had revenue no less than $100,000 in 2009, had revenue no less than $2,000,000 in 2012 and its revenue in 2012 must have exceeded its revenue in 2009, according to Inc.com.
Transportation Impact and First Flight Solutions grew 833% and 2,232% from 2009 to 2012, generating $4.4 million and $2.7 million in revenues last year, ranking the companies 549 on the Inc. 5000 and 184 on the Inc. 500, respectively.
Transportation Impact ranked as the 17th fastest-growing logistics and transportation company in the nation and trailed only First Flight Solutions, which ranked No. 6 overall in the industry, in industry rank within their home state of North Carolina.
Since 2009, First Flight Solutions is just the second Eastern North Carolina-based company to crack the Inc. 500, and the first in the logistics and transportation industry to do so.
In 2008, Byrd and Burt, both then senior-level managers at UPS, left the world’s largest shipping company after nearly two decades, respectively, to launch their own startup with the mission of providing clients with the most competitive small package contracts in the country.
The company’s original headquarters was nothing more than a table and chairs in the 10×20 storage closet of an Emerald Isle, N.C., surf shop Byrd co-owned with Doug Starcke, now managing partner of First Flight Solutions. The founding partners leveraged their experience to grow the company door-to-door and eventually the word began to spread about the spend management firm based in a coastal vacation town along the southernmost part of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
“While we were at UPS, we identified a need in the market for skilled experts to work on behalf of clients that ship en masse to their customers,” said Burt. “After we left the carrier, Keith and I spent countless hours envisioning how the next decade would unfold for our company, and so far we’ve been fortunate enough to exceed even our own expectations.”
While the two never doubted that their company would be successful, it wasn’t always easy. “In the early stages, flying wasn’t in our budget. So we hopped in a car, went door to door and were fortunate enough to earn the trust of customers that we still partner with today,” said Byrd. “As the company started generating revenue, our good fortune has continued, allowing us to surround ourselves with young and talented employees that have helped our business develop to where it is today.”
As the company grew, its team expanded to include other former senior managers from various carriers, all of whom brought their own experience from a variety of parcel shipping backgrounds. Through their extensive carrier experience and the development of an effective negotiation process, Transportation Impact has achieved sustained growth by driving measurable results to its clients’ bottom lines. Today, the company employs a team of 23, with more than 150 years of combined carrier experience, leveraging its industry savvy to drive down clients’ net annual parcel spends by an average of nearly 20 percent.
Both companies provide small package negotiation and automated auditing services to companies that annually spend $200,000 or more on FedEx and UPS parcel shipments. During the last three years, the companies have helped nearly 400 companies save a combined total of more than $40 million.
“Now, we have nearly 400 clients across the United States, and thankfully we can afford a flight to see any of them. All that driving was necessary, but I’ll be the first to tell you that it gets old quick.” During its rapid ascension, Burt and Byrd said that Transportation Impact has sustained a tough economy by staying true to its core values of integrity, professionalism, diligence and execution. “Our mission statement is pretty simple,” said Byrd. “Do what you say you’re going to do. “We figure if we stick to that, then we hope that the Inc. 500|5000 is the first of many great things to come for our companies.”