PITTSBURGH, Oct. 14, 2013 – FedEx Ground, the small-package ground unit of FedEx Corp. (NYSE:FDX), awarded one of its highest honors to three entrepreneurs whose small businesses provide transportation services for the company. Satgur Singh Athwal (of Athwal FDS Corporation, Riverside, Calif.), Brian Birmingham (of Sailor-Saint, Inc., Springfield, MO) and Jeffrey Kemmerling (of Cash Transport, Inc., Columbus, Ohio) were named FedEx Ground Entrepreneurs of the Year.
“We established our Entrepreneur of the Year program in 2007 to honor these exceptional small-business owners who work with FedEx Ground and deliver reliable, safe, cost-effective, and professional service,” said Henry J. Maier, president and CEO of FedEx Ground. “They built their thriving businesses from the ground up growing alongside FedEx Ground, while also making significant contributions to their local communities.”
FedEx Ground works with more than 8,500 small businesses throughout the United States and Canada, and Athwal, Birmingham and Kemmerling were selected from the 17 regional winners representing the best of those companies for the fiscal year ending May 31, 2013. Selection criteria included business growth and development, customer service, safety record, community involvement, and business ethics.
The following are brief company profiles of the business owners honored:
Satgur Singh Athwal – Athwal FDS Corporation, Riverside, Calif.
No one embodies the proverbial American Dream quite like Satgur Singh Athwal, whose family immigrated to the United States when he was only 13 years old. Starting with practically nothing and living in a church basement, his family worked odd jobs to make ends meet. After starting several different businesses as an adult, Athwal decided to try contracting with FedEx Ground. In only seven years, he has grown Athwal FDS Corporation’s daily activity by more than 1,000 percent, growing from one employee delivering up to 120 packages a day to 15 employees delivering up to 1,700 packages a day.
His business secret? “Don’t focus on how much money you’re going to make; focus on taking care of the business,” Athwal says. “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” He reports that he has an extra employee available each day to protect against unexpected disruptions, which has more than once saved the business from a potential service failure.
Personal success was all the more reason for Singh to give back to the community that he’s called home for so many years. The business makes annual donations to Ronald McDonald House charities, as well as food donations each Thanksgiving.
Brian Birmingham – Sailor-Saint, Inc., Springfield, MO
Brian Birmingham credits his business success to always treating his employees with respect and a commitment to integrity. With 14 employees and 10 pickup and delivery vehicles – and zero employee turnover in the past three years – Sailor-Saint, Inc. boasts more than 100 years’ combined trucking experience. Brian also stresses the importance of safety with his employees, beginning each week with a safety meeting during which employees can share best practices. This helped his business achieve zero preventable accidents in FedEx Ground’s fiscal year 2013.
Brian says “the best fertilizer is a farmer’s footprint, meaning you have to really know your team to know their needs.”
Birmingham also owns Service 658, a mobile auto service company, which employs a full-time mechanic. This second business helps Brian ensure his trucks are proactively maintained and safe to be on the road.
Sailor-Saint, Inc. is also the recipient of the FedEx Ground Best in Business award for its stellar performance during the second quarter of FY13.
Jeffrey Kemmerling – Cash Transport, Inc., Columbus, Ohio
Contracting with FedEx Ground for more than 20 years, Cash Transport employs 15 people and runs a fleet of 16 pickup and delivery vehicles. Jeff Kemmerling, who owns Cash Transport, learned what it takes to succeed from his father, who is also a small-business owner: start small, stay focused, have thick skin, be proud of your accomplishments, and push past the hard times.
Kemmerling says that “without safety, there is no service.” Embracing that philosophy, he also owns a safety company – Cash Safety Services, LLC – which provides regular safety information and best practices to other businesses in the transportation industry.
Additionally, Cash Transport actively engages with the Buckeye Ranch in Grove City, Ohio, a facility assisting families dealing with mental illness, as well as healthy, emotional, behavioral, and substance abuse issues. Jeff and his team “adopt” an underprivileged, local family each holiday season, providing not only gifts, but also groceries and everyday essentials.
Cash Transport was also the recipient of the FedEx Ground Best in Business award during the first quarter of FedEx Ground’s fiscal year 2012.
For more information about these and other winners, visit http://blog.van.fedex.com/ground-entrepreneurs-of-year.