THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY IS PERHAPS THE LIFEBLOOD OF AMERICAN COMMERCE. More than 26 million trucks ship 9.2 billion tons of freight a year. According to the American Trucking Associations, an industry trade group, the sector contributed $603.9 billion to U.S. gross domestic product in 2011. It's clearly a significant part of the economy. As chairman of Ag Trucking Inc. (No. 93 on the be industrial/service companies list with $24 million in revenues), Dale LeFebvre knows this well.
LeFebvre, who has a background in finance, acquired the Goshen, Indiana-based trucking company in 2012, bolstered by a $14 million investment from Gladstone Capital Corp., a publicly traded business development company. Formerly managing partner for AIC Caribbean Fund, he continues to invest and grow other businesses across several industries, be spoke with the Harvard University and MIT graduate about his trucking venture. Here's what he had to say:
As a finance guy, what made you decide to acquire Ag Trucking?
I got into trucking because I wanted to focus on domestic investment. I wanted to be in spaces where people of color are not particularly represented. Transportation, energy, and some segments of business services, along with data centers, were the segments that I looked at.
What's appealing about the trucking industry? There had to be more of a business case to go into this line of business.
What's attractive about Ag in particular is it's not commodity trucking. It's liquid bulk, food-grade transportation. So it's a niche business. It's a scalable business serving a large market. It's a business you can build up both organically and through acquisition.
Give an example of some of the things that you transport.
We transport canola oil, vinegar, com syrup, and other manufactured bulk liquid food products. Archer Daniels Midland makes canola oil. We take it from their production facility hot and deliver it to packaged food companies like Frito Lay.
I recall you telling me that one of the challenges early on was confusing well-educated people with effective people. What do you mean by that?
People who are experienced and just focused on being effective regardless of pedigree is where I've seen the most success particularly in smaller businesses where whatever the job is, you've got to get that job done. It doesn't matter who you are, what your role is in...