Success stories are always inspiring. Why? Because everyone wants to live a similar story; everyone wants to succeed. But when an individual achieves success starting from the bottom, that is when an inspiring story, becomes an awe-inspiring story. Those who build their own success out of nothing, are those that successfully navigate their way around life’s challenges, without stopping. They fall, sometimes or may be often, very hard, but they get up to stubbornly move on. It’s that self-belief, passion and determination that keeps the ball rolling. A perfect example of an individual starting from little and creating their own success is Matthew Telesca, Founder and CEO of one of the country’s fastest-growing logistics and transportation companies in the United States, MGN Logistics, Inc.
Matthew, the youngest of five children, was born to a very modest low-income family, in a small farming community in Pennsylvania. His parents were first generation immigrants from Europe. Matthew’s mother was a home maker and his father owned a small upholstery business. As a child growing up, he was often given his older brother’s hand-me-down clothes for the new school year. And while the family never struggled to eat, small conveniences or luxuries were few and far in-between, and never taken for granted. All his siblings, including himself, would work in his father’s small family run shop, taking turns to assist their father.
He recalls, “In middle school, my class had around 800 students and the vast majority were pretty well-off financially. In fact, out of the entire class only a handful of us received free lunches because our families couldn’t afford to pay for them. I remember being so embarrassed and self-conscience about it. I was always attempting to hide my free lunch card,” Telesca chuckles. “It was something that impacted me very early on and created an incredible desire and unstoppable determination to find a way to succeed. I ended up being the kid with a lemonade stand, the kid who sold trading cards, the kid who was always looking to make a few dollars, whenever and wherever I could. I would come up with the craziest ideas, but nothing would stop me from trying.”
A Determined Kid and Avid Reader
According to Telesca, it was his unending determination and self-belief, along with curiosity that always kept him ahead of the curve. One incident that perfectly illustrates this as a child is his experience of investing in stocks. At just 12 years of age, and having saved $500 from working with his father, Matthew convinced his father to open a brokerage account in his name, so he could trade stocks and commodities. Imagine a 12-year-old making real investments in the stock market. Using the school’s pay phone, he would call his stockbroker to check on his investments and get live market updates between classes.
He reflects, “I was always curious and always interested in learning new things; how something worked, how it was made. I loved the idea of using my intelligence to create opportunity.” Telesca remembers being an avid reader. “Even today, I am constantly reading industry related articles and magazines and always attempting to keep my creative juices flowing.” He would enjoy reading books with topics like business, investing or computers.
The ‘Aha’ Moment
After finishing high school, to pay for his continuing academic studies and assist with family bills, Matthew took a job at a local door manufacturer loading and unloading trucks. The company’s management team immediately noticed his work ethic and responsible attitude; and decided to train him directly under the warehouse manager. With this training, he learned the basics of inventory control and supply chain management. Intrigued by what he was learning on the job, and recognizing numerous inefficiencies in the shipping process, he switched his academic focus to concentrate on logistics. Matthew started taking courses, reading and studying at night, while working at the warehouse during the day.
Telesca would frequently fill in for the warehouse manager while out on vacation. During one of these routine times, he was asked to arrange and dispatch the company’s daily shipments. The company’s shipping process entailed contacting one of three carriers. The first, was a preferred carrier and the least expensive, the second and third were progressively costlier and only used when necessary. On the very first day of his new responsibility, Telesca found himself in a situation for which he wasn’t prepared – none of the three carriers were available. “The year was 1998, Google didn’t exist, and in fact the whole idea of online search at that time was, not just extremely novice, but exceptionally limited. The entire internet was relatively new and very few companies had meaningful websites. So, I did what everyone did back then, I started looking through the yellow pages or the phonebook for trucking companies.”, recalls Telesca. After several hours of “smiling and dialing” phone numbers, he ultimately found a local carrier that would perform the deliveries and, actually, ended up being substantially cheaper. That was Telesca’s ‘Aha’ moment. Having firsthand experience with the inefficiency of not only finding trucks, but then also getting price quotes, he envisioned a way to improve this process and decided to jump in both feet first.
Armed with a little knowledge of programming and an intriguing idea, Telesca contacted a friend from college who was working at America Online (AOL) as a programmer. Ten months, countless sleepless nights, and two hundred and fifty thousand lines of code later, Telesca’s newly formed company, MGN Logistics, Inc., launched a revolutionary new website called logisticsquote.com in the spring of 2000. It was one of the first online transportation brokerage websites, and allowed customers to easily set up accounts, search carriers, rate shipments, create shipping documents and track their freight online. After extremely rapid growth and success, the site was sold to a private equity group in 2004. Three years later, after his non-compete clause had expired, Telesca started, what would end up being numerous acquisitions of brick-and-mortar freight brokerages he could efficiently modernize and integrate on-line with his newly developed Freight Transportation Management System (TMS). The first of these acquisitions occurred in 2007 and was a freight management company based outside of Boston, Massachusetts. This would be the start of a never-ending quest for excellence and the constant pursuit of newly reimagined technology that would again end up disrupting the transportation space.
MGN Logistics: A Technology-Driven Logistics Solutions Provider
As an early adopter of web-based technology, MGN continued to focus on cutting edge technology and developed several industry-first creative transportation modules which include projects like predictive pricing, extensive KPI charting and intelligent transportation routing that has outpaced all major players in the space.
By 2013, the company had opened an office in Orlando and another in the Dominican Republic to handle it’s growing international business. In 2014, having been heavily concentrated on freight management and LTL, the company expanded its expertise and acquired a truckload brokerage in New Jersey. The following year, it made another strategic acquisition of a tech-savvy Midwest-based brokerage with a unique proprietary truckload pricing app. Today, the company has 6 locations spanning Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, Michigan and the Dominican Republic. While the company provides services as a traditional freight broker, its focus and specialization is as a full-service freight management partner. It’s cloud-based proprietary TMS can efficiently integrate an entire supply chain ranging from that of a large multi-national corporation to small home-run business. The software can be utilized as a fully independent stand-alone program or a well-integrated bolt-on apparatus.
MGN’s suite of services include price and service optimization, contract negotiation, carrier routing and e-dispatching, along with fully automated documentation creation, pre- and post-audit, freight payment, and an extensive suite of interactive business intelligence reports, just to mention a few highlights. The platform not only provides sophisticated transportation technology but also connects each customer to a dedicated group of seasoned logistics managers who assist in coordinating, executing and tracking all shipments. The process is enhanced with integrated eGPS monitoring of truckload shipments, in addition to live LTL, rail, ocean, air and parcel updates. For those companies looking for a standalone or fully integrated solution to either replace or support their existing logistics department, MGN’s proprietary TMS is hard to beat. Their dedicated technology staff makes integration simple and incredibly affordable.
Innovation and Implementation
Telesca notes that the transportation space, like so many other industries, continues to be disrupted by new and compelling technologies, something he is intimately familiar with. In addition, new entrants to the industry such as Uber Freight and Amazon push the envelope of an already crowded space. Telesca is convinced the race to the top will be won by smaller, more adaptive and specialized companies rather than industry giants that he believes are too bloated to implement genuine disruptive change. “At times, it’s a little funny reading or listening to folks outside my space talk about the new entrants like Uber Freight or Amazon, as if they are introducing something genuinely disruptive or new. I guess for those not intimately familiar with logistics and the technology in the space already, those ideas seem innovative, but rest assured, there are dozens of companies that have been doing the same thing or similar for quite some time. Sure, just for their sheer size, financial fortitude and name-sake they will gain market share, but I often chuckle at all the hype. Trust me, I’m one of the first to be excited when I see or hear something truly innovative. It’s been a life’s passion to try to be one of those industry innovators, so I applaud when I see something worthwhile.”
“My belief is that the market players who are able to efficiently deploy continuous technological improvements, while at the same time effectively execute their strategy, with have the best chances of real success.”, Telesca exclaims. MGN Logistics has a focused, crafted strategy designed to look ahead and be innovative. It doesn’t rely solely on its CEO to lead innovation, but rather empowers each and every employee to participate and revel in creativity and innovative thinking. It is for these reasons that Telesca feels that the company has a greater chance to continue dominating its niche market.
Ability to Delegate
When asked, “The ability to delegate is one the biggest challenge for any Founder and CEO,” says Telesca. “The business is like your baby, you’ve committed absolutely everything to it, and once it starts to grow, if you’re not able to let go and delegate, you will end up stifling growth.”
Telesca started his company in the bedroom of his parent’s home and single-handedly wrangled every role from idea, to development to programming and vendor relationships, to sales and invoicing and billing, tracking and tracing; literally everything! So, when the business started to grow, it was very difficult to let go and delegate responsibilities. It required, not only trust, but even more importantly, acceptance of the idea that a task could be accomplished effectively in more than just one way. ‘My way’ was not the only way, Telesca recalls. As he learned this lesson, he focused more on managing the desired results and less on micro-managing his people. This allowed his employees to take ownership and spark a never-ending process of improvement.
The Mantra of Success
Everyone wants to be successful and yet, for the majority, success is very elusive. Telesca feels an entrepreneur needs grit, discipline and the ability to keep grinding through good and bad times to succeed. He advises budding entrepreneurs to be prepared to work above and beyond everyone else.
He elaborates, “You need to be the first one in the office, the last one to leave, and you need to be willing to do what everyone else only talks about doing. If you are willing to do this, then and only then, you will have one of the necessary building blocks to creating a successful business.”
Catalyzing the Trust Factor, MGN’s Future
A major challenge facing the transportation industry is the need for trust in so many supply chain transactions. Brokers must trust that a carrier is who they say they are, carriers must trust they will get paid, shippers must trust that a carrier will not double-broker a load, and the list goes on. Telesca, once again, is pushing his innovative vision for the future of logistics. He believes the application of block-chain technology in the logistics space could prove to be transformational. From its inception as an early internet solution, to its real-time truckload pricing app, to the sector’s first block-chain enhanced TMS, MGN Logistics has always been on the cutting edge of these types of transformational changes. As the visionary and primary advocate of the platform, Matthew Telesca envisions himself helping to catalyze these changes. He successfully built and sold his first logistics company by the age of 32. He now leads the growth of his current company, MGN Logistics, which has been named one of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies by INC Magazine, four years in row, most recently in 2017. Telesca believes MGN will be a $100 million in annual revenue within a few years, and all without any outside investors. “At this point, I feel we really just hitting our prime. I’m past the point of foolish startup mistakes as a CEO, I’ve learned hard lessons from the past and I’ve surrounded myself with a knowledgeable and experienced executive team that has my complete and full confidence. I believe we ready to see growth accelerate even faster. The ultimate demonstration of this belief is the fact I’ve turned down numerous offers from outside investors and companies to acquire MGN. Some of those offers were quite tempting to be honest, but I think it’s just a little too early. I still want to see this growth thru.”