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Last-mile delivery firm Pickup names Brian Kava CEO

Pickup founder Brenda Stoner will remain with the company, focused on innovation

Brian Kava has taken over as CEO of last-mile delivery firm Pickup, with plans to expand its coverage area and grow revenue. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Brenda Stoner founded Pickup to create a technology-focused solution in the difficult and laborious last-mile delivery segment of big and bulky items.

The company has grown considerably since its founding eight years ago, and now Stoner is handing the reins to a seasoned executive who will be charged with growing the business. Brian Kava joined Pickup in September 2021 as head of sales and marketing and is now taking the helm as CEO. Stoner will remain with the company focused on innovation.

“We are thrilled to have Brian lead the next phase of growth for Pickup,” said Stoner. “His expertise and experience in transforming technology strategies and unlocking future growth opportunities make him a natural fit as CEO, and I am confident he will play a critical role in helping Pickup reach the next phase of the company’s trajectory.”

Prior to joining Pickup, Kava was president and general manager at Acosta, leading one of its largest growth divisions. He also has more than 20 years of experience in consumer and brand awareness, product visibility, and sales and marketing roles for brands including Walmart, Google, Amazon, Home Depot, Whirlpool, Nike and Microsoft.

“Brenda has done a tremendous job of creating a company that focuses on technology and our employee-centric mission, value and purpose,” said Kava. “Her dedication has paved the way to helping so many organizations win the last-mile touch point within the customer journey. I look forward to building upon this foundation to create a growth strategy for Pickup that is organized, sustainable and adaptable.”


Read: Algorithms are great but people drive big-and-bulky delivery success

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Kava told Modern Shipper that in the short time he has been with Pickup, he has been impressed with the team and the work ethic displayed throughout the company.

“This is a company of people who are innovative, passionate and smart. I’m confident that we can outshine our competitors and help solve last-mile problems through our people and technology,” he said. “I am continually reminded of things that remain fundamentally true for us which will be central to my leadership strategies and vision going forward. As we progress, we must focus on what Pickup can uniquely contribute to the marketplace and differentiate from our competitors to deliver elevated experiences.”

In March 2021, Pickup raised $15 million in a series B funding round and quickly expanded its employee base and service area. Now in over 80 cities, the company uses its Enterprise API solution to manage last-mile and often same-day delivery of large and high-value items for retailers including Big Lots, Pottery Barn, West Elm, At Home, Buy Buy Baby, Cost Plus World Market, HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Homesense. 

Pickup’s Good Guys handle the deliveries, including those requiring white-glove service. Stoner previously told Modern Shipper that the average Pickup delivery requires two Good Guys with an average basket size of $800. The other advantage Pickup is leveraging is its “point-to-point” model. Stoner said a Pickup vehicle does not carry multiple customers’ deliveries at one time — it picks up the merchandise and delivers it. That enables it to utilize vehicles that are right-sized for communities.

Kava will look to keep this momentum going, with plans to double the company’s current headcount and expand beyond its existing footprint. New initiatives will also seek to enhance the analytics and reporting capabilities of its Pickup Fusion platform and develop education models for its fleet of delivery professionals.

Working alongside Stoner, Kava said he anticipates a strong future for the company.

“It is Brenda’s passion for the business that led me to Pickup and I believe we built a strong connection from the onset around building an amazing company. We are very aligned on how to complement each other on this next path of growth,” he said.

With extensive experience in retail, Kava noted that Pickup represents an opportunity to solve the “last 3 feet” of transactions.

“Last-mile delivery is the final step of the customer journey that ensures an elevated brand experience,” he said. “For the past 20-plus years, I have strategized with national retailers, commercial businesses and manufacturers to develop and execute strategies for winning the last 3 feet of the sale. My experience on the front end of the customer journey will be a perfect complement to how we build solutions and solve delivering enhanced last-mile experiences.”

Kava doesn’t foresee limits to where Pickup can go, noting that last-mile delivery is “ripe for disruption.”

“We are well positioned to take advantage of the current marketplace,” he noted. “Many companies aspire to change their industry, but very few have all the elements required: talent, performance and technology. Pickup has proven that it has all three. I can’t ask for a better foundation. The most important thing is that we all focus on being on top of our game. We need to keep it simple and customer-focused.”

As to how he defines success, Kava said that his first year should be marked by four achievements: “Pickup has delivered profitable revenue growth; we have delighted our stakeholders of partners, employees and shareholders; transformed how we do business; and energized our people and culture.”

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected].