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Ricardo Reyes, a sales manager for a parcel shipping firm, was returning from his honeymoon when he learned that one of his company’s major accounts had been lost to what he felt was mismanagement. So the newly married executive decided to make another bold decision — he started his own business.
Launched in April 2000, International Transport Solutions Express Inc. (ITS) is an express-delivery firm that’s open seven days a week, 365 days a year. Customers include the Associated Press, Sony Music, and DefJam/Arista records. The 10-employee firm generated $638,000 in revenues in 2001 and projects revenues of $800,000 for 2002.
Here’s how ITS operates: When a company wants packages shipped, ITS dispatches a driver who brings the parcels to ITS’s offices. The parcels are inspected and put on a flight. ITS then contacts a parcel delivery company in the destination city and gives it the details of the contents and the delivery deadline. The company handles the “last mile,” from the airport to the client’s doorstep. Revenues are generated from shipping costs charged to ITS’s clients and from providing delivery service for other nonlocal shipping firms.
Although success came quickly, Reyes, 34, has not been without his share of challenges. He spent 14 years in the parcel delivery industry where he held positions as a driver, a customer service representative, a manager, and a director of sales. But hands-on experience didn’t prepare him for the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.
He started the company with $50,000, which was used for operating capital and for the rental of a small one-room office in Manhattan. He also purchased a fax machine and a pair of personal computers. Reyes knew his life savings wouldn’t last long — especially since business was slow in taking off. “I was getting claustrophobic,” he recalls, remembering the firm’s first office, a diminutive one-room location with a steep $1,300 rent. “There are only so many times you can reorganize your desk.”
“I did it all myself,” he says of ITS’s early days. “I was the customer service rep, I picked up packages, I was the messenger.” Reyes, who lived off his life savings and the cash he received from wedding gifts, went almost four months before drawing his first paycheck. “It was very stressful,” he says. “But my wife was really supportive, even when the phone rang at 4 a.m. [with calls] from Australia.” But once he landed clients, ITS took off. First-year revenues totaled an impressive $230,000.
Reyes, who hopes his firm will one day join the ranks of the BE 100S, is planning to expand his operations and hopes to open an office in Washington, D.C., within the next year or so. While he’s not looking to go head-to-head with the big players in the industry, he’s confident that ITS is positioned to grab a bigger piece of the pie. “I can’t compete with FedEx or DHL, but if you miss their cutoff, that’s where I come in. I’m 24/7, 365 days a year.”
International Transport Solutions Express; 43-49 10th St., Suite 302;