Editor’s note: ‘Charlotte Beat’ is a regular feature on Wednesdays, focused on tech firms and entrepreneurs in the Queen City. After stints as an investment professional with companies such as Bank of America Capital Investors, Carousel Capital Partners and BluePoint Capital Partners, Travis Parsons decided he wanted to be an entrepreneur.
So Parsons put on his thinking cap, did some research and came up with elogex, a firm he began in 1999.
The company, now with 75 employees — mostly engineers — uses logistics management software and an Internet-based platform to centralize management of transportation activities for clients, both within and between divisions and with customers and suppliers. The result is optimized transportation systems that create efficiencies, lowered costs and improved service levels.
“In this economy, companies are looking to cut costs, and we deliver tangible results quickly, so they get a fast return on their investment,” says Parsons, 31. “We’re growing in a bad economy because we are gaining a competitive lead over others who are cutting back on R&D.”
By taking this aggressive approach, Parsons says he hopes elogex can develop an industry-standard tool for transportation management, which is actually part of supply chain management.
Focusing on vertical markets
So far, elogex has focused on vertical markets, specifically grocery store chains. The strategy has worked well, and clients include the likes of Aurora Foods, Hannaford Bros., Kroger, Shaw’s Supermarkets and Winn-Dixie. Soon, Parsons says, the focus will expand to building products and general merchandise chains. Most of the firm’s clients — which also include Dupont, ES3, Nu Skin and Schneider National — are located along the East Coast, and the company has regional offices in Michigan, Georgia and Connecticut. More employees will be added soon.
Parsons graduated Phi Beta Kappa with Distinction from UNC Chapel Hill with degrees in history and business administration. When he began elogex, he decided to stay in his hometown of Charlotte. Not only did he grow up in the Queen City, but felt it was a good fit because of its status as a financial and distribution center. Plus, his angel investors were located here.
Parsons raised an initial $1 million from angel investors, and since then, has raised a total of about $20 million. His main institutional investor is Fenway Partners out of New York. “I pulled together a team that offered good value right out of the gate,” Parsons says.
Mark Nix, with 18 years of sales and marketing experience with such companies as Metasys and Pitney Bowles, is executive vice president of sales. Jeff Carter, recognized by Charlotte magazine as one of the top seven e-business minds in the Southeast, serves as chief technology officer.
The firm hasn’t reached a break-even point yet, although, Parson says, “We are still investing in our growth and pushing in all areas of the business.”
That’s where he remains focused. “We’re not focused on an exit strategy — we’re focused on growing the business,” he says. “We want to stay independent and grow the company as large as possible over the long term.”
Elogex’s understanding of both transportation and distribution management and software development is at the core of its abilities to come up with transportation solutions for its clients. Staff members are experienced in managing complex logistics activities, building transportation software and creating advanced Internet-based technology solutions.
It usually takes about 30 to 90 days for elogex to develop a solution for a client. But the relationship doesn’t end there. A client services team helps with application hosting and integration; implementation and training; support and maintenance; and best practice consulting.
The solutions elogex develops enable clients to practice collaborative logistics. This means they can extend their systems to suppliers, customers and other trading partners, pulling all the parties involved in their supply chain onto one platform. By allowing multiple partners to access the software without requiring installation at multiple sites, this single-instance Internet architecture improves customer and supplier relationships.
“Transportation and logistics are a perfect fit with an Internet platform,” Parson says.