“We serve mostly larger corporations that want items moved in mass,” said Steve Schroeder, vice president of operations at Circle Logistics, Inc. - who heads the company’s office in La Porte, which has been up and running since May.
With 30 owner-operators working for the company now, Schroeder says he would like to expand that to 50 by the end of the year.
“Growth is very key,” said Schroeder, who brings more than two decades of experience in the logistics business to Circle Logistics having previously worked with Whirlpool for 15 years and Penske for another six.
While not looking to outdo Penske or Ryder, commonly the two main logistics companies nationwide, Schroeder says Circle Logistics will be seen as the most reliable.
“Most of the time your other carriers are looking to grab as much freight as they can, but we are looking for the right customer,” he said. “We aren’t always going be the cheapest or the one with the most trucks, but we are going to be the one that is going to step up and help when it’s needed.”
Such examples he pointed out include if another truck breaks down or if irregular mass shipments are needed.
An asset-based company, Circle Logistics employs the owner-operators by simply paying for what they move. Each driver essentially owns their own mini-business with their own truck, but “all the leg work” with customers and timing is done by the company, which has an office in Chicago in addition to the headquarters in Fort Wayne and the one Schroeder runs in La Porte.
The addition of Circle Logistics to the local economy could not only offer employment opportunities for drivers based out of the area, but will also become more and more of an asset for local companies.
“It gives (La Porte) a carrier in area we typically don’t have,” said Schroeder, a native of Rolling Prairie who refers to himself as a “La Porte County lifer.” “So many companies here are used to going outside to look for people, but I’ve already began working with some that think it’s nice to have something like this offered here.”
The drivers are all currently based out of the Midwest, but shipments can go anywhere, Schroeder said - even overseas.
“We like to see them go out for two weeks, maybe take a shipment over to Findley Ohio and then on to Tulsa before coming back to the Midwest,“ he said. “Some guys like to be home every night and others would rather be on the road all the time for more money. Some go out for 6-8 weeks.”
Schroeder said he became involved with Circle Logistics through Eric Fortmeyer, someone he dealt with while at Penske and the co-partner of Circle alongside Chad Buchanan.
While all the drivers hired by the company are recruited out of the Fort Wayne location, it would be beneficial to add some from La Porte or the surrounding area.
“Trying to find the right drivers is key,” Schroeder said. “We are always looking to bring people on that have experience in the industry, experience with customers and ones who can help grow the company.”
Right now, Circle Logistics in La Porte is an office of one, but Schroeder says a second position has opened up as he is looking to have “someone in the office from 7 (a.m. to 7 (p.m.).”
“We want someone young who wants to learn more about the industry,” he said. “Not someone who is looking to make $40,000 a year right off the bat, but someone willing to learn and grow with us as a company.”