In only four years time, Columbus-based Zipline Logistics has managed to triple its office space, expand its staff from six to 14 employees, and post double-digit growth each year− accomplishments that are especially impressive considering the business was founded just before the recession set in.
Like a scene out of a movie, Zipline’s business plan was written on a napkin in a tavern one night. All three of its future partners −Andrew Lynch, J.J. Rodeheffer, and Edward Williams− were disenchanted with their first employer post college, a national logistics company based in the Midwest.
They say clients were paying high rates because they needed premium service and quality equipment, but their employer consistently matched customer freight with the truck that provided the widest profit margin.
“We were comparing notes and saw a company married to profits to the detriment of customer relationships,” says Rodeheffer. “We thought that was unfair and knew there was a better way to do business.”
So in 2007 they founded their own logistics company, taking up residence on the second floor of a Chinese restaurant in German Village. In its first year, Zipline −which handles truck and rail shipment delivery across 48 states and Canada− brokered 1,000 shipments and revenue reached $1.7 million.
“We decided treating people fairly and ethically while focusing on service to both the vendor and client would set us apart from our competition,” he says.
It appears that philosophy has served Zipline well. The company’s receipts topped $4.4 million in 2010 and revenues are projected to reach $10 million this year.
Though Zipline has been “profitable since day one,” Rodeheffer says obtaining financing was, and continues to be, a challenge− something he attributes to a lackluster economy and the notion that Zipline is a green company.
However, he says that very challenge, which the partners resented for quite some time, has ensured that Zipline doesn’t get too big too too soon.
“We’ve managed that growth without ever losing a single client,” he says. “That’s something we’re extremely proud of.”
Zipline recently surveyed its carriers, and the partners claim 100 percent of respondents said the company is courteous and respectful and that the company always builds relationships with them based on honesty, integrity, and loyalty.
“When we formed Zipline, we didn’t know we were building a purpose-driven company,” Rodeheffer says. “From the beginning, we wanted to go beyond the almighty dollar and take care of people. No matter what it takes, we don’t stop until the shipment is there. And we believe in making a price commitment that sticks.”
To learn more about Zipline Logistics, visit ZiplineLogistics.com.