To celebrate Black History Month in the month of February, we’re bringing you this interview series with Black professionals from around the transportation industry, from truckers and trucking company owners to brokers, logistics providers and transportation entrepreneurs. In this final blog in the series, we spoke with Jovanic Bontemps, owner of Atlanta-based FR8UP Logistics and FR8UP Transportation Services, the lease division of the company. Jovanic is relatively new to the trucking industry, as he just launched his trucking company last year. Jovanic has a full-time career in the IT industry, but hopes to transition eventually to working full-time in his trucking business. Our conversation with Jovanic covered a lot of ground, including what’s it’s been like for him to launch a trucking company from the ground up and his goals for growth for the business in the not-so-distant future. 

Fr8Up Logistics

When Jovanic started FR8Up Logistics, the trucking company was headquartered on Long Island, where Jovanic lives. Jovanic recently relocated the business to Atlanta to capitalize on much lower insurance rates and greater freight volume availability. FR8Up Logistics is a small trucking company that currently includes a dispatcher, company driver and leased driver. When Jovanic started the business last year, he purchased a truck for the company for hauling load-out/power only loads. Since then, the business has purchased its own reefer trailer and is primarily running lanes in the Midwest. 

“We’re running from Missouri to Illinois, back up to New Jersey and then back down south,” Jovanic said. “The cost/benefit analysis for running reefer just makes sense for us. Our most lucrative runs have been Webb City, Mo., to Dayton, N.J. We want to be able to transport pharmaceuticals that have to be kept at a certain temperature, as well, in addition to produce.”

“We’re running from Missouri to Illinois, back up to New Jersey and then back down south,” Jovanic said. “The cost/benefit analysis for running reefer just makes sense for us. Our most lucrative runs have been Webb City, Mo., to Dayton, N.J. We want to be able to transport pharmaceuticals that have to be kept at a certain temperature, as well, in addition to produce.”

Though it’s a lot to have a full-time career as an IT consultant and to run a trucking business, Jovanic told us that he sees it as an advantage for his company.  

“It helps that I’m not looking for a paycheck from the trucking company right now,” Jovanic said. “Everything is going back into the company and paying for our maintenance and regular operational expenses, payroll, fuel, etc. I’m not looking to dip into the revenue of the trucking business and that’s good because I’m not sure if we would have been able to sustain some of the setbacks we encountered early on had I been looking for weekly or monthly payouts.”

The Strategy for Scaling Up Fr8UP

“When I first started, I wanted to have six trucks by the end of the year, but that was a bit ambitious, to say the least, because if you can’t manage one or two, I think the worst thing you can do is scale too quickly,” Jovanic shared. “There are some processes that we have to get better at streamlining first before we add more to the mix. We have some expenses that we need to cut down before we add more to the mix, as well. We also need to let our DOT number age a bit before growing.” 

“When I first started, I wanted to have six trucks by the end of the year, but that was a bit ambitious, to say the least, because if you can’t manage one or two, I think the worst thing you can do is scale too quickly,” Jovanic shared. “There are some processes that we have to get better at streamlining first before we add more to the mix. We have some expenses that we need to cut down before we add more to the mix, as well. We also need to let our DOT number age a bit before growing.” 

Jovanic said that he actually started another company called Fr8Up Transportation Services that oversees the company’s lease division, which is growing. The lease division takes care of all the administrative aspects of running trucks and allows drivers to lease their trucks from the company. That’s where Jovanic sees the greatest opportunities for scaling the business in the future.

A Major Challenge in Building a Small Trucking Business: Access to Capital

Jovanic told us that while the company’s move to Georgia was a smooth one and revenue has increased significantly since launching the business, there have been challenges along the way. One of the greatest challenges thus far has been being able to access capital. According to Jovanic, FR8UP Logistics is using a Net 30 account with Quill and the establishment of its Dun & Bradstreet number to successfully build a positive credit profile for the company. 

“You need money for this business,” stated Jovanic. “If you’re not coming into the business with a lot of cash, you have to have really good credit if you want to get lease opportunities. I would like to see more opportunities available for small trucking companies like ours to access capital. We recently were offered one loan for $12,000 and they wanted us to pay $219 daily for 80 payments. In the end, we would have been paying 40 percent more than the original loan amount. That to me is a deal with the devil, but I’m sure that there’s someone out there who would take that deal and that would be the end of their company.”

“You need money for this business,” stated Jovanic. “If you’re not coming into the business with a lot of cash, you have to have really good credit if you want to get lease opportunities. I would like to see more opportunities available for small trucking companies like ours to access capital. We recently were offered one loan for $12,000 and they wanted us to pay $219 daily for 80 payments. In the end, we would have been paying 40 percent more than the original loan amount. That to me is a deal with the devil, but I’m sure that there’s someone out there who would take that deal and that would be the end of their company.”

Jovanic told us that FR8UP Logistics is using OTR Capital for factoring services and that his experience there has been a good one. He said that he loves OTR Capital’s portal and being able to run reports easily. 

“The reports from OTR Capital are very visual and we’re able to see our top brokers and month to month invoices, and we have one central location to view invoices,” said Jovanic.

To learn more about Jovanic Bontemps and his trucking company FR8UP Logistics, visit https://www.instagram.com/fr8_up_logistics/

Read Celebrating Diversity: Pinkie Dabney, Trucker and Social Media Influencer to meet one of the other transportation professionals we’re spotlighting in honor of Black History Month. To download Trucker Tools’ free driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/carriers/