Shelbyville, Tenn.-based Titan Transfer Inc. is a stalwart in the trucking industry, and the company is beefing up its profile with a new Memphis location and plans to triple in size.
James Martin, from left, Wes McMahan, Dana Workman and Chris Jones of Titan Transfer Inc., talk by one of the company’s tractor trailers. Titan is a full-service truckload carrier that moves freight throughout the 48 states from different aspects of the supply chain. (Photo: Lance Murphey)
Its unique position to grow is the product of more than 40 years of hard work from chairman Tommy Hodges, who earned his stripes the hard way.
“It’s not like Tommy was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and a big corner office,” said the company’s director of sales, Dana Workman.
Hodges worked from the ground up, beginning his career as a dock worker and eventually making his way into truck driving. As he labored during the day, Hodges studied at night.
After working toward his MBA at the University of Tennessee, he went to work for Goggin Truck Line in 1982.
It was at Goggin Truck Line that he was asked to help grow the company and after successfully doing so, Hodges considered retirement. But he wasn’t ready to hang it up just yet.
“After about two months of the phone not ringing, I couldn’t do that,” Hodges said.
So, Hodges transformed the trucking company into Goggin Warehousing and a year later he created Titan Transfer Inc.
Today, Titan Transfer is a 48-state, full-service truckload carrier with about 375 employees and terminals in Knoxville, Shelbyville and Cornersville, Tenn., and a new location in Memphis.
Goggin Warehousing is a public warehousing company of about 150 employees that offers a variety of services, from storage to order fulfillment to reverse logistics to inventory management.
Although both companies are standalone entities, Hodges acts as the “common denominator,” as he owns all of Titan Transfer and the majority of Goggin.
“We’ve been on a pretty aggressive growth pattern since we started both businesses and we plan to continue that during the recession,” Hodges said. “We were slowed somewhat because demand just wasn’t there. We’re picking back up on those growth modes now and (we are) excited about the possibility of what we’ll do in the future.”
Because trucking is responsible for moving about 72 percent of all U.S. cargo, the industry was greatly impacted by the recession.
“Oh, I think we took the real brunt of it,” Hodges said.
“Our whole industry probably took it harder than most any other single business simply because we are the sum total aggregate, if you will, of everything that goes on in the economy.”
Titan Transfer might come out of the recession stronger than before. The company is planning to expand its fleet and get back to where it was before the economic downturn.
Titan Transfer aims to achieve this lofty goal by getting “leaner, faster, stronger, better” and turning its focus back to customer relationships.
In Workman’s opinion, the recession brought companies to a place where pricing was more of an issue and because of that, customer relationships deteriorated.
“I’m not ashamed to admit we fought for a while. It was a slug fest,” Workman said.
“You have got to get beyond pricing and back to relationships. … In doing so, it’s made us a better company.”
With a marketing degree from Christian Brothers University and 20 years of experience under his belt, Workman was recruited to develop, plan and execute marketing strategies. Although he had never led a sales team, Workman is one of the key employees now in charge of Hodge’s company.
“There are some really cool things that (Tommy) has done by just saying, ‘Hey, you run my company. Ask me questions. I’ll mentor you but you have to make the day-to-day decisions. And if you mess up, you know what? I might slap you on the wrist. I might hug you around the neck,’” Workman said.
One big decision Titan Transfer made was its newest terminal location.
The company chose Memphis to move closer to “the action.” Since the terminal’s move from Brownsville to Memphis three months ago, Workman said recruiting drivers has been extremely successful and that Titan Transfer has been able to build “some real cornerstone relationships that have given us the ability to expand and grow.”
Hodges agrees that Titan Transfer is in growth mode. As of now Titan has about 300 trucks but Hodges said, “I can see a day when we would be a thousand trucks or a bit larger.”
The company’s leadership takes its role within the industry seriously.
Hodges has been the chairman of the Tennessee Trucking Association on two separate occasions and is the immediate-past chairman of the American Trucking Association, which is based in Washington.
Workman is the past president of the Traffic Club of Memphis, an assembly composed of road, air, and rail transportation personnel who meet to discuss what is happening in the industry.
“All this just in an effort to raise the public’s awareness of what trucking does and how vital it is to our economy and how vital it is to what people a lot of times take for granted – that stuff just gets on the store shelves by accident but there’s a truck behind it someplace,” Hodges said. “If you brushed your teeth this morning, a truck brought that toothpaste … it’s all brought by truck.”