Mar. 26—Five years after the business began in a downtown Chattanooga storefront, Network Transport is more than tripling the size of its office by relocating into larger facilities inside the CBL Building near Hamilton Place Mall.
"We simply outgrew our previous location and had nowhere to grow," Bob Poulos, the chief commercial officer for Network Transport said during a grand opening celebration last week for the company's new East Brainerd location. "This gives us the runway to grow and allows us to draw from a bigger area while still being in this talent-rich market."
Founded in 2016 by trucking industry veterans David Ferguson and Ben Gordon, Network Transport is on pace to nearly double its sales again this year after recording $121 million in revenues in 2021. To keep up with the growth, the company is planning to add up to 100 employees this year to more than double its existing 85-employee company.
"One of the most important responsibilities of running a company is to make sure that your people have a workspace that can comfortably meet their needs and the needs of our operation," said Ferguson, the president of Network Transport. "As much as we liked our office on Cherry Street and enjoyed being part of downtown Chattanooga, we knew the day was fast-approaching that we would grow beyond the space in the Loveman's building, which we owned and are now selling."
Ferguson said the new 14,000-square-foot office is more spacious than the former downtown site, and being located near the mall and along I-75 should draw workers from a wider geographic footprint. Since moving into the new complex, Network Transport has already added 12 new employees.
In moving to the suburbs, Network Transport is bucking the trend of some other rapidly growing freight logistic companies in Chattanooga that are building and expanding downtown. Steam Logistics is adding 400 jobs in a nearly $7 million expansion of the historic John Ross building downtown, while Trident Transport is adding 125 workers this year and shifting its headquarters to downtown's riverfront and Tallgrass Freight Co. is opening shop downtown near where Network Transport just vacated.
As home to more than a dozen growing freight brokers and trucking-related support companies such as Freightwaves, Reliance Partners, Transcard and others, Chattanooga has been dubbed "freight alley." Inc. magazine identified eight of the 13 fastest-growing small businesses in Chattanooga were in the logistics field.
While those in the growing industry are often battling one another for workers to staff their operations, officials with Network Transport say they are trying to grow as well as recruit new staff.
"If you are going to build a growing and lasting company, you've got to have a training ground tailored for the needs of the company and the skill sets of each individual," Ferguson said. "We want our people to be more than just brokers, but associates that focus on customer service."
Nathan Fletcher, vice president of enterprise sales and training, said the company created Network University last year to provide a 120-day training and orientation program to aid workers learn about the industry and how to best serve the company's customers. The program also tries to tailor the training and work responsibilities for the talent of each employee,
"We recognized the need for helping people to develop their skill sets and we've been successful in reducing turnover and helping our team members succeed," he said.
The training initiative has helped recruit new entrants into the industry.
Markale Bond, a 33-year-old former solution specialist for Verizon Wireless, joined Network Transport last July.
"I recognized that there is no ceiling or limit to what you can do in a company like this and that's what brought me here," Bond said. "I was one of the top salesman here at Verizon, but I'm already doing much better financially here and it's really a fun place to work."
Like many freight brokers in Chattanooga, Network Transport maintains a giant bong in the office which is struck when significant goals or accounts are achieved and the company hosts an open bar on most Friday afternoons after work.
Network Transport is a non-asset logistics company that helps link goods producers and shippers to move freight faster and more efficiently across North America. The company merged in 2020 with the Soar Transportation Group, a Salt Lake City-based trucking and logistics company. But Network Transport continues to work with hundreds of different shippers and customers and has maintained its headquarters in Chattanooga with another office in Salt Lake City.
"Not only are we growing as a company, but Network Transport is committed to bringing what we are calling life-changing logistics jobs to the Chattanooga region," Poulos said. "A college degree is not necessary to be hired here, but what we are looking for is a desire to be successful to work hard and learn, and to be flexible. here's been a big more to try to automate as much as possible this industry, but we still believe it is a people business and getting, training and keeping the right people has been key to our growth."
Contact Dave Flessner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6340.