Trailer Bridge Inc. was recently named to the Jacksonville Business Journal’s 2023 Fast 50 list, which recognizes the fastest growing private companies on the First Coast in the categories of average annual percentage growth and revenue growth over the past 3 years.
The company was honored with placement in both categories, ranking 30th for average annual percentage growth and 5th for average annual revenue growth. From 2020-2022, Trailer Bridge increased its revenue by 34.92% year-over-year and experienced an average revenue increase of $143.57 million per year over the same period.
This is the second year that Trailer Bridge has achieved placement on both the growth and revenue list for the Fast 50 Awards.
Trailer Bridge CEO, Mitch Luciano, provided this insight into the company’s success in an interview with the Jacksonville Business Journal:
What led you to the point of starting or buying into a company?
Trailer Bridge was founded by Malcom McLean, known by many in the industry as the ‘Father of Containerization’ for his work that revolutionized the process and movement of cargo globally to what it is today. His legacy of innovation still flows through the company today as we grow beyond our core business model to better serve the needs of today’s shipper.
When I stepped into the CEO role in 2015, I had never run an ocean shipping business – my expertise was in logistics, but I knew we had the opportunity to do something special with the company. The people have always been one of the aspects I love the most about our company and the work I get to do. We have a diverse group of individuals who have rich life experiences and together, we are better.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome as you’ve grown?
The last few years have been quite interesting for all of us as humans but for our industry, we’ve seen the highest of highs in terms of freight and are in a very interesting ‘righting of the ship’ so to speak. Not to mention a global pandemic that impacted our personal lives and the way we work.
I’m proud of how our team has navigated the past three years – extreme growth, while very exciting, is not always easy or comfortable but they have embraced it and continue to make it happen. Specifically, our logistics division has embraced a completely new technology platform, we’ve added new divisions, and made significant changes in our leadership team to help us reach that $1 billion mark by 2027.
What’s been the ‘secret sauce’ that has helped propel your growth?
We care. Simply that – we care, and we serve. When you approach your work with a heart of service – whether that is service to your colleague or your customer – it just looks and feels a bit different. I tell my employees at the end of each monthly townhall I love them, and I genuinely do. Some get a little uncomfortable with using that word in the workplace but not at Trailer Bridge; we believe caring is how we differentiate ourselves.
What have you done to keep your company culture strong as you grow?
Company culture is not something that is built or maintained by a CEO or leadership team, it is an all-hands-on deck kind of project. I give our people all the credit here – they have fiercely protected our culture by living out our core values day-in and day-out, holding each other accountable and really showing up every day.
As a leadership team, we have kept our word and remained transparent about where the company is going, and most importantly, always kept an open-door policy. If an employee has a concern or idea, we are all ready to hear them out. If we need to fix something we do it – if we need to try something new, my mantra is ‘Go for it’.
What advice did you receive earlier in your career that has stuck with you as you lead your company?
My mentor, CJ Carlton, taught me that your handshake means everything. You also have to keep your word, even when it is difficult.
What advice would you have for those who are looking to lead a fast-growing company?
After 25-plus years in this industry, my philosophy is to ignore the instinct to tap the brakes during challenging times like this and remain focused on the strategy of serving our people, our customers and growing the business. While some may argue it’s a risky approach, it’s one that has proven successful in my career, and the careers for many others.
You see while others are pulling back on their investments, letting employees go and hitting pause on the new technology rollout; at Trailer Bridge, we are doing the opposite. Why? Because our reaction to the right now will have a direct correlation to our future success.
What challenges or opportunities do you see on the horizon and how are you preparing for them?
We are anticipating the freight market to improve in Q2 of 2024. Our teams across the nation are growing, we are focused on creating efficiencies in our business and keeping a strong focus on training our employees. This industry is always evolving so we stay plugged into our customers’ needs and stand ready to grow or shift to be their service partner of choice.
As seen in Vol. 39, No. 1 of the Jacksonville Business Journal.