Everest Transportation Systems has all the main ingredients for producing a disruptive freight brokerage.
In 2015, founders Jake Elperin, Lev Krasnopolskiy and Philip Weber pulled on their combined decades of experience from Echo Global Logistics, Optimal Freight and Custom Companies to bootstrap a brokerage that leveraged technology so its human capital could focus on providing a 24/7, high-touch customer experience.
Originally focused on the chemical industry, the team quickly found itself providing competitive offerings in many modes of transportation, including full truckload, drayage, less-than-truckload, partials, intermodal and expedite services.
Even while automating minutiae tasks, the team hit the strategic fork in the road where many fast-growing brokerage firms find themselves, questioning how to scale their teams to meet the demands of their customers.
“We started to really grow and we tried hiring here and there but we were very busy and needed good people to offer the level of customer service we had committed to,” Elperin told FreightWaves.
“Lev had this idea to implement an office in the Ukraine. While it would be cost effective, he knew they would be educated and highly motivated for the job, so we went for it. We started with a few hires and they were doing a fantastic job for our customers handling the day-to-day operations, so little by little we began to expand and experiment,” he said.
With an operational office in Kiev, Ukraine, and a growing office in Evanston, Illinois, Everest was able to leverage costs to provide the 24/7 customer support to service food and beverage industry elites including AB InBev, Nestle, Swire Coca-Cola and Dollar General and cosmetics company Paris Presents.
This effective strategy went on to produce over 100% revenue growth and 200% EBITDA growth over the last 12 months, catching the eye of one of the industry’s strongest investment firms, Cambridge Capital.
On Wednesday, Cambridge Capital announced a majority investment in the brokerage firm. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
Everest announced Cambridge Capital’s managing partner and CEO Ben Gordon and principal Matt Smalley will join the company’s board of directors while its co-founders continue to lead the company full time, hold significant ownership and serve on the board as well.
“I have never seen a logistics company create a culture like Everest,” said Gordon. “What struck me about the team in Kiev was the number of smart, motivated and educated employees that loved their job and were proud to work for and build a company with Everest.
“Employees expressed to me the respect, trust and support they receive from Everest’s leadership and how they were encouraged to find ways to solve problems. I think that type of culture is a big deal. It’s easy for people to say they’ve sought to create a culture like that but when you talk to these employees, you can really tell they are happy, engaged and feel supported,” he said.
This employee empowerment is a strategic outcome from the Everest team, pulling on their past experiences and building a Chicago-style brokerage that separates each function of business, creating a high level of customer service needed to support its enterprise customers.
“Everest’s growth is a great example of creative problem-solving,” said Gordon. “The team needed to figure out how they could deliver better service for great customers like Nestle and [AB InBev] who love getting instant responses. … They realized that Kiev wasn’t just low-cost outsourcing but actually a better way to rethink the business model.
“Having that office means it’s easier for Everest to provide that 24/7 coverage with a strong talent pool. It means Everest can give great sales executives the opportunity to do more of what they like to do, which is sell, and it allows Everest to easily reshape their workflow in a way that’s better for any customer they onboard,” he said.
Working with Cambridge Capital will enable Everest to continue scaling its company to 500 employees globally and adding service offerings, leveraging the resources of logistics companies under the investment firm’s portfolio including Parcel Perform, Bringg, ReverseLogix and Greenscreens.
Most importantly for Elperin, who is an immigrant as is Krasnopolskiy, scaling Everest’s dual offices means providing great jobs for hard workers and investing in their futures.
“We care for the people that we work with. … The company culture [in Kiev] is something that we take a lot of pride in. [In brokerage] you will always need to have that human touch and seeing that these people believe in our business model makes it all worth it.”