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Ohio homecoming spurs growth of Columbus logistics firm

John Rodeheffer and Andrew Lynch were enjoying a beer after a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field a few years ago when conversation turned to work. Both were 20-somethings employed by a Minnesota-based logistics firm and neither saw much opportunity to grow. As they talked, they began to consider what the future might bring if they started their own company.

"We sat down about a month later, and that's when plans began," says Rodeheffer, now a partner in Zipline Logistics, based in Columbus. "And within a year, we left our employer and moved back to Ohio and brought along (Lynch's) roommate and another good friend, Edward Williams, who is our president."

Zipline manages shipments for a number of large customers by employing trustworthy carriers to move loads of a truckload or less to clients across the country. The company reported revenues of $3.2 million in 2009, almost double that of 2008. If all goes as planned, Zipline expects revenues of $4.4 million by the end of the current year. Zipline's quick growth also landed it in the 12th spot among Business First's latest list of the 50 fastest growing companies in central Ohio.

Rodeheffer attributes the company's success to best practices and building trust between Zipline, the customer and the carrier.

"We put their interests first and profits second. And that leads to a relationship that evolves into longevity and a partnership -- versus beating someone up for an extra 25 or 30 bucks."

While the three founders moved back to Ohio to be closer to family -- all are Ohio natives and Miami University grads -- Columbus has proven to be a great place to run a logistics operation, Rodeheffer says.

"There's Rickenbacker Airport, several Fortune 500 companies, and Columbus is a day's drive to 80 percent of the population in the United States," Rodeheffer says.

Zipline employs eight, but hopes to hire three more people in the next three months.

Source: John Rodeheffer
Writer: Gene Monteith

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