MEET ELIAS DEMANGOS, THE 31-YEAR-OLD PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF FORTIGO
Elias grew up in a trucking family and after studying business in university, knew he wanted to start a trucking company of his own. He honed in on the dedicated fleet segment, realizing more manufacturers were shedding their private truck fleets and outsouring to trucking specialists, who had a better grasp on an ever-tightening regulatory environment, costlier technologies – and who the hell wants to deal with the driver shortage, anyway?
This segment poses two main challenges: the sales cycle is years-long, meaning it’ll be a while before you can generate cash flow. And the margins typically are even slimmer than they are in truckload or LTL. For these reasons and others, trucking companies that dabbled in dedicated fleet operations did not always do well, and Elias figured a specialist focusing on this segment could differentiate itself.
The company was launched in 2006 and soon after, just as it was gaining some momentum and had hired its first employee – the bottom fell out of the global economy. Elias remembers what it was like to manage a fledgling trucking company during the Great Recession.
“I would equate it to being in the Atlantic Ocean, in one of the worst storms, and you’re in a rowboat going up and down and you look to your right and to your left and you see these big boys – and they can barely handle the waves,” Elias recalled. “Some of them are breaking and sinking and you’re thinking, how the heck am I going to do this?”
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