I got my CDL in 2008. I wanted to try something new, so I asked my father if I could join him in his trucking company, Ewa & Chester Trucking. He built this company, on his own, from the ground up. It was a five-truck operation contracted by FedEx Ground. As I drove, I soaked up the management skills my dad showed me with passion. As an operations manager, I started to implement new ideas in hiring, safety, and operations. With a desire to grow the company, I started dreaming about a bigger operation, surrounded by an amazing team. When my dad decided to retire, I continued to dream about the perfect company. We decided to sell Ewa & Chester. After a successful exit, my dad was able to relax, and I was able to focus on a new company. On November 14, 2013, Era Transport was born. Despite working long hours, driving, and maintaining the trucks, I was already thinking of buying and adding more units. I wanted to move fast, and with the support of my wife and kids, as well as my passion for this industry, my dream is slowly coming true. Today, I have an amazing team and the sky is the limit for Era.
How did the concept for Era Transport come about?
Spending eleven to sixteen hours behind a wheel of a big rig every day allowed me to have a lot of time to listen to audiobooks. My love of reading and dreaming got me through all of the challenges I had to face while learning the industry.
One of the books I read was The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. It was that moment in life where I realized I could also build a company. I reread it three more times the same week and started to dream about how my company would look one day.
How was the first year in business?
Our first year in business was frightening. My professional driving and maintenance experience, along with the encouragement and help from my father, influenced my decision to get started. Getting an authority and becoming an independent owner operator was one of the first significant and necessary milestones.
A decision I made from day one was to just push forward and learn as I go. I still have this mindset today. This attitude and overwhelming support from my family is what gave me the courage and drive to build my version of a company that treated drivers like family.
What was your marketing strategy?
To be the Purple Cow, which was a book recommended by Tim Ferriss. I wanted to stand out on how I treat drivers and customers. Being able to attract and retain drivers is the biggest pain point in our industry and I was on a mission to find a solution. I knew If I could speak to drivers from a driver seat, they would listen and respect it.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Growing the first year was uncomfortable, however, that’s where I got to know myself and my ability to solve problems. Next year, I got even more uncomfortable by doubling the number of trucks I planned to buy. I did not know how I would fill the drivers seats, but I did. Being uncomfortable quickly became a normal thing. It’s like a muscle. The more you train it, the more you can handle. I didn’t recognize how quickly our company grew until we ranked #277 on the 2018 Inc.5000 List.
How do you define success?
Success is when you identify your soul’s purpose and live your life according to it. Soul purpose + love + happiness = success.
What is the key to success?
“To do more for the world then the world does for you, that is success.” Henry Ford
I believe happiness isn’t something we get. Rather, it is something we create and the capacity to create immense happiness exists within everyone. I also believe that love is a verb, not a noun. It’s not a right, but a responsibility we must all choose, and I believe when we choose love, our life opens to an abundance of possibility.
When love is missing in one’s life, it creates struggle. No matter how much you have or don’t have, without love, it will never be enough. Love fills us in a way that makes any amount enough. Love reminds us of our greatness and inspires us to be free to be who we really are and give love from that place.
The spirit of love seeks to create, serve, and support others in a way that gives us direction and fills our life with meaning and purpose that brings us a joy without measure.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Somebody once told me, “You are the average of the five people you associate yourself the most with.” When I applied this, I was shocked with how true it was.
What are some quotes that you live by?
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb
“Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life.” – Ayn Rand
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Realizing that in order to achieve success, I needed to be a great communicator. This was extremely difficult at the time because I was only nineteen years old and I did not speak a word of English.
Being able to freely communicate, to be myself, and to be funny in English was a distant planet. I’ve decided to hop on a rocketship.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Dreams. The power of dreaming got me through a lot of tough events in my life. Dreams never failed me.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid of dreaming big. It all starts with dreams. If you don’t have them, you won’t get anywhere. The rest you can learn and figure out as you go.
This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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