Walking into NEXT Trucking’s Southern California headquarters almost feels like walking into the spa. The signature buzz of an open office is disguised by the sound of running water. The further you move into the office, the stronger the buzz gets. Still, the lingering waterfall sounds retain their calming effect.
NEXT has all the hallmarks of a modern start-up – conference rooms named after superheroes, kombucha on tap and a couple of friendly office dogs. NEXT is also growing at breakneck speed.
The company offers customers a driver-centric, technology-enabled freight marketplace that matches drivers to loads without the added time and cost that can accompany a traditional brokerage.
It is the driver-centric part that really stands out to NEXT Chief Revenue Officer Bobby Napiltonia, who affectionately referred to himself as “chief trucker.” The son of a truck driver himself, Napiltonia wants to see every driver in America make $1,000 per day.
“If you look around you, everything came in a can (editor’s note: ‘Can’ is Napiltonia’s affectionate term for a shipping container). I think of a can as a kid. Every beneficial cargo owner (BCO) thinks of it the same way. They want to know where it is and if their customers can get to it. At NEXT, we’ve invested in the technologies to know where the can is at all times,” Napiltonia said. “For the truckers, our goal is ‘your road, your rules.’ When you put those two together, it is a pretty lethal combination in creating something that is seamless and scalable nationally and globally.”
Joining the team in 2016, Product Specialist Chris North has been with NEXT from the beginning. As the fifth employed hired, North has seen NEXT move through several stages of growth.
When NEXT first started, it fell into the all-too-common trap of trying to be everything to everyone and provide services across the logistics landscape, according to North. The company found its footing early on, however, and was able to carve out a niche for itself in drayage. North said NEXT has been able to build out working partnerships across the supply chain while excelling in “first mile” delivery, ensuring it can still provide customers with a full suite of services.
“When we first started, we were picking up loads and delivering loads from anywhere to anywhere,” North said. “About a year and a half ago, we started to focus in on our core competencies. We realized there’s a huge push for drayage. Finding that focus has been really positive for NEXT.”
While drayage may not be the most talked about segment of the logistics industry, the $50 billion market is an important part of keeping shelves stocked and goods moving. Carriers working in drayage provide the essential “first mile” service between ports and warehouses, and there are over 60 million drayage movements in North America each year.
A great deal has changed at NEXT since North first started over three years ago, but he said the company has maintained a strong sense of community throughout its growth period. Newer employees tend to agree.
Operations Representative Louis Verdieu has been with NEXT for about two months. He said he appreciates the beautiful office space NEXT has created, but what really motivates him to come to work everyday is how he feels when he is surrounded by his colleagues.
“It is less about trying to work through problems on your own here and more about being open,” Verdieu said. “Your ideas and thoughts don’t just fall on deaf ears here. You aren’t just brushed aside.”
The importance of being heard and valued was a theme felt throughout the company. Director of Engineering Byron Lo joined NEXT about a month ago, and he is currently building out his own team. He knows that some engineers are attracted to larger companies because of a perceived sense of stability, but he emphasized that each individual employee has the opportunity to be heard in a thriving start-up environment.
“With a smaller company, individuals will make a much larger impact,” Lo said. “This is the right company for someone who does not just want to be a cog in a machine. There is an opportunity to grow with the team, and what you do matters here.”
NEXT Recruiter Juno Cheng said the company is still very much in its growth period, and the skills it is looking for in applicants continues to fluctuate with each open position. For this reason, she welcomes inquiries from people with all kinds of skill sets who feel they would be a culture fit at NEXT.
“You now have the opportunity to be at the forefront of something really cool,” Cheng said. “This is a great place to be. We’re doing something awesome, and we’re thinking about a group of people not everyone is thinking about.”
NEXT currently has almost 60 open positions listed on its website. Opportunities are available in data science, engineering, finance, marketing, operations, human resources, product and sales.