By Brian Sherman
JEAR Logistics President Mark Neumeyer sees a bright future for his company. But if increasing the size and scope of the family-owned third-party freight broker means taking the edge off his drive to serve the ever-growing needs of his customers and carriers, he’s not all that interested.
“We’re always pushing, always asking how we can be a little better,” said Neumeyer. “Size is not our priority. We want to be the best. If biggest follows, it’s fantastic. But if the quality is going to go, I’d rather not be big.”
Neumeyer and his brother-in-law and co-owner Patrick O’Connor credit JEAR’s success to the company’s culture – its insistence on hiring, nurturing and training the best young group of people possible.
“It’s work hard; play hard,” said O’Connor, who was in freight logistics for 12 years before joining the JEAR team in 2013. “We all work as one. Our staff is a bunch of kids who work hard to excel for themselves and for the company.
“We have a manager supervising 20 sales reps instead of 60, which provides a better opportunity for these kids to be successful,” he added. “Our turnover rate is less than 26 percent. The industry standard is more like 65 percent.”
JEAR Logistics has grown from humble beginnings. After a 10-year career in the health care industry, Neumeyer started his own company in 2007, operating out of his home in Cincinnati, Ohio. Four years later, he packed up his business and moved it to the Lowcountry. JEAR now has around 80 employees and two locations in Mount Pleasant: a 11,000-square-foot building on Salterbeck Street in Park West and another 6,600 square feet on Wando Park Boulevard.
“We can work wherever we like, and we love this area,” Neumeyer said. “We want to put down roots and develop the company.”
Family is a key aspect of the success of JEAR Logistics, from the name of the company to the core of its culture. The acronym represents the names of children, nieces and nephews, and Neumeyer explained that JEAR’s employees are his extended family.
“We’ve grown on the backs of great people developing other great people,” he said. “We help each other. Our employees have developed great friendships.”
With O’Connor’s guidance, JEAR has carved out a niche in refrigerated freight, items such as produce, meat and frozen foods – around 91 percent of its business in 2016, he pointed out. So far in 2017, refrigerated freight has accounted for 75 percent to 80 percent of JEAR’s market share.
JEAR’s revenues have soared since O’Connor joined the company, from $4.5 million in 2012 to $15.1 million, $33.4 million, $42.8 million and $58.7 million in the following four years. The company contracted with trucking companies to haul 24,552 full truckloads in 2016, up from 683 loads in 2012.
O’Connor attributes the company’s meteoric growth to its well-trained and highly motivated staff.
“It’s because of great hiring by managers and training young people to grow within the perishable part of our business,” he said. “And finding the people who are the right fit for our culture and our company.”
Last May, JEAR branched out into the world of LTL – scheduling transportation for less than a full truck of freight. JEAR deals with more than 5,000 carriers nationwide who move loads to locations across the United States and in Canada.
“Some of them haul for us every week; some haul for us several times a year,” Neumeyer explained. “We look at carriers and customers as partnerships. We look to establish long-term relationships.”
Logistics, according to Neumeyer, is an industry that will grow, driven by advancements in technology and communications. He expects JEAR Logistics to continue to expand its reach because of the enthusiasm of his staff – “ambitious young people who work their butts off.”
“It’s a challenging industry, but one common theme at JEAR is that we over-deliver on our expectations,” Neumeyer said. “One of our core philosophies is unmatched integrity and work ethic. But we also care about our people.”
Which, according to O’Connor, is one reason he and his business partner chose to locate their company in the Lowcountry. He pointed out that it wasn’t necessary for them to be geographically close to their customers.
“We wanted to be where young, talented people want to live,” he explained. “We recruit from USC and Clemson and also from the College of Charleston, Charleston Southern, The Citadel and Coastal Carolina. It gives us the opportunity to find the right talent for us.”
“And when we decided to build our headquarters in Mount Pleasant, the town was very helpful in wanting us to stay here and have our employees stay here,” he added.