To be a successful business owner, it takes more than knowing how to do a job well; it takes knowing how to run a company. That’s what Reginald Vereen, owner of Kwik Transport, found out when he moved from being a driver to an independent contractor for FedEx.
Vereen had been driving for another FedEx contractor for about a year when the opportunity to get his own truck and route surfaced.
“I took advantage of the opportunity, and overnight, I became an owner instead of just a driver,” Vereen recalls. While he knew how to make deliveries, he quickly realized the challenges that come with being a business owner.
Over the next seven years, Vereen grew his fleet from one vehicle to 11. While the company was making money, he felt that there was a piece of the puzzle missing. Along the way, he had reached out to business development organizations for help, but it never seemed to end with any real progress being made. “They tried to assist me but for some reason, we just were not getting anywhere.”
All that changed when Vereen read an article in Black Enterprise magazine about UP Community Fund, a minority-owned firm that provides flexible loans and technical assistance to small businesses. The article touted UP Community Fund’s ability to not only provide funding, but to provide assessment, direction, and guidance to entrepreneurs located within the southeastern region.
Vereen reached out and David Sharp, founder and managing partner, promptly responded. An initial meeting quickly ensued, and the business transformation began.
To Vereen, the initial meetings felt like interrogations. The questions Sharp and his partners asked made him very uncomfortable.
“First meetings can be tough,” Sharp admitted. “But I knew I had to get in there and find out what all the pain points were so we could see how to best help.
For a business to be successful,” Sharp continued, “the owner must know the numbers. What is the daily revenue for each route? How much does it cost to operate this truck daily? These are all numbers that a logistics company should review every single day.”
It took a while, but with tough questions and a lot of analysis, Vereen got a grasp on his numbers and his business began to make more sense.
Vereen had been grooming his daughter, Alicia, to take over his business. She had learned the delivery routes and how to monitor the operations and track the numbers. She had also become familiar with the staff and FedEx personnel. With industry changes coming about, Vereen decided it was time to move forward with making his company a family endeavor.
To make the transition successful, UP Community Fund determined strategies to decrease Vereen’s business debt and reduce expenses. This included subleasing two vehicles to other contractors to alleviate the burden of making the payments. In addition, his daughter, who had started her own company, K&J Logistics, was able to purchase his vehicles at a lower cost than purchasing new ones. UP Community Fund also provided funding for K&J Logistics to successfully kick off the business.
“Our goal always is to help our clients be more successful business owners,” Sharp says. “This starts with listening to them and understanding their past, and where they see themselves in the future. For Reginald and Alicia Vereen, this meant successfully ramping down his company while ramping hers up so she can have longevity and success.” With an exciting new venture on the horizon and the progress of his daughter’s business, Vereen feels his family’s business potential is unlimited. Wherever the businesses may go, he says UP Community Fund will be a part of his team.