Delivering the goods

It’s about making a name for yourself.

A decade ago, Chris Haas started All Pro Freight Systems Inc. in the basement of his Lakewood home. Since then, he has built the company into a $15 million operation that employs 38 people. All Pro recently moved to a new 120,000-square-foot facility in Avon.

For his success, Haas has earned numerous awards, including landing on the Weatherhead 100 list in 1998 and recognition as a Golden 30 Business winner last year. His most recent recognition is as a finalist in the Ernst & Young LLP Entrepreneur Of The Year competition.

“We work hard, and obviously the visibility is good for you,” Haas says. “You’ve got to get your name out. Trucking, like everything else, is very competitive. We work hard to stay in the public’s eye and make sure they know we’re out here for them. We service a lot of Northeast Ohio companies. It really pays off for us.”

In a competitive world, Haas has his task cut out for him when it comes to trying to differentiate his company from his competitors.

“The main thing is the personal service and the personal touch we give the business,” he says. “I’ve remained in the sales end of it. I treat my customers the same now, when we have 250 customers, like we did when I had five. You spread yourself a little thin, but you don’t alienate anybody.”

Part of Haas’ business model is to approach companies that learn transportation is not their area of expertise.

“We’ve built a business model that we’ve put into place to go into companies and take over their whole logistics program and enable them to better use their personnel in their core competencies, whatever their business might be,” he says. “People like the fact that their commodity is getting handled by a professional company in a time sensitive manner and at a reasonable rate.”

Haas has found another way to make his company grow. He didn’t want to babysit several new salespeople, so he decided on the acquisition route.

“About five years ago, I decided that we had the business model and now we just needed to add the top line dollars. We found some smaller companies that were growing in the same markets we were that we acquired and made them more profitable because we had the model in place.”

Today, things are looking bright for All Pro Freight Systems Inc.

“With the economy being so good, I think we’re going to continue this growth, and I’d like to ride it out,” Haas says. “We’ve got a great staff. You can’t grow like we’ve grown without surrounding yourself with good people. Because of the young, ambitious and energetic staff we have, I don’t see any slowdown, at least for the next five years.

“ I wouldn’t be surprised to see us get to be a $50 million company in five years. This year, we’ll be at about close to $20 million.”

But that doesn’t mean Haas is looking to pull up stakes any time soon.

“We’re committed to the area,” he says. “We’re absolutely committed to giving back to the community. We’ve been very fortunate and worked very hard to grow our business.” How to reach: All Pro Freight Systems, (440) 934-2222

Daniel G. Jacobs ([email protected]) is senior editor of SBN.