Walter Lynch of Zipline Logistics
Meet Walter Lynch, founder of Zipline Logistics
, a third-party logistics company.
What is Zipline Logistics?
We are a third-party logistics company founded in 2007. Zipline handles truckload, less-than-truckload and rail shipment delivery across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Experienced employees, technology investments and “Golden Rule” customer service allowed Zipline to forge strong relationships with carrier partners and maximize overall efficiency and savings in all logistics operations.
How did you come up with the idea?
The concept of Third Party Logistics has been in place for 100 years, so I wouldn’t claim that we reinvented the wheel. However, our experience in logistics showed us that there was a need for an ethics based, service first provider that put the customer and carrier’s needs ahead of their own. Trust is hard to come by in this industry, but by building a business for
the customers and carriers, and doing what we say every time – we have had an exciting first five years.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
The demand from our customers for a service-first partner has been the biggest surprise. Their excitement about what we did, and continue to do, has validated our business model, our place within the industry, and positioned us for future success.
Where did you find your first employee?
A friend from Chicago was interested in moving to Columbus. And as a roommate of one of the partners, he literally watched us form the business. You could say he believed in it before it existed! Best of all, he is still with us today.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
Working at Zipline is fast-paced and energetic. Mornings are the busiest when freight movement overnight is updated in the system, carriers are secured and confirmed for morning pick up, and deliveries and customers are updated on the status of their loads. The afternoon is spent monitoring our loads in transit, and working on the days ahead. We also reach out to new carrier partners and potential customers as well as continual training and education.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Columbus.
Columbus has been the perfect environment to start a logistics business. Aside from the geographic advantage, we are within an overnight drive to 60% of the US population, and the city has invested heavily to ensure Columbus remains a major logistics hub. The amount of distribution centers within 30 miles of downtown demonstrates that. Because of that, the logistics teams at these shippers have united to form one of the nations leading logistics councils – CRLC (Columbus Region Logistics Council) – which we have been lucky enough to be a part of for four years now. We discuss the business environment, education, attracting and retaining young talent in Columbus and the infrastructure around Columbus. It has been a real pleasure to work alongside of these national companies.
What resources or organizations in Columbus did you take advantage of and how did they help?
Zipline is active in the Chamber’s logistics council as well as OSU’s logistics education programs. We speak quarterly to both the TLA (Transportation and Logistics Association) as well as the AMA (American Marketing Association) at the Fisher School of Business. Exposure to the students at Fisher has been mutually beneficial. Not only do they get to see what a 3PL is like, we get to see what current students are looking for from future employers.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
What was amazing and surprising was how difficult my partner’s former employer found it to let them go. You know you have a solid business plan when one of the largest players in the world in your industry feels threatened by your strategy. I guess it is more funny now than it was then!
What inspires you?
Watching our team members grow into knowledgeable transportation professionals who really care about our customer and carrier partners. I watch them take that passion from the office to the community and beyond.
What founders do you admire and why?
I would say that I admire Nick Swinmurn at Zappos. He and his partners understood from the beginning that it was about company culture and core values. If you nail those, the business will follow.
What’s next for you?
Heading into 2013, Zipline plans to continue to invest in our employees, the business and the community. We are actively recruiting with plans to hire 8 to 12 professionals over the next 12 months. We are also ramping up our community service and philanthropic efforts.
Interview by Joe Baur