Dan and Natasha Shirey are firm believers in teamwork — and that’s how they run their Olathe company.
Freedom Transportation Inc., designated as a minority- and veteran-owned business, provides over-the-road trucking services to a wide range of customers. Recently, Freedom was among several local businesses nominated for Small Business of the Year through the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
Q: What services does your company provide?
“We are a commercial trucking company that transports customers products from Point A to Point B with trucks that we own,” Natasha Shirey said. Freedom hauls across the U.S. with a fleet of six semi trucks, four box trucks and the ability to use other equipment.
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“We do last-mile delivery, hub-to-hub and regional and over-the-road,” Dan Shirey said.
While Freedom’s offices are in Olathe, the company has an agreement to keep its trucks at the FedEx Hub in Lenexa when not in service.
“Ninety percent of the time they are out on the road,” Dan Shirey said.
Q: Who do you provide services for and how do you find them?
Freedom’s clients include FedEx, Target and Smart Way as well as smaller businesses that need logistics services. Much of the company’s business has come through word of mouth.
“We found that there are a lot of local businesses that ship across the country,” Dan Shirey said. “The majority of our business is regional — the Kansas City to St. Louis route is 65 percent of our business. … Distribution centers have reached out to us because we have a reputation that speaks volumes. We don’t have late deliveries.”
Freedom likes to go for longer contracts.
“It is better for driver retention and it is our bread and butter,” Natasha Shirey said.
“It’s a cut-throat business,” added Dan Shirey of the over-the-road trucking industry. “We are networking and meeting people all the time to get business from distribution centers, third-party logistics companies and brokers.”
Q: What is your prior business background?
Both Shireys were new to the trucking industry. Dan Shirey served in both the U.S. Marine Corps and the National Guard. Now in the reserves, he has been assigned to the transportation arena, which has helped with running Freedom.
“Being in the Guard keeps me up to date on transportation,” he said.
The Shireys drew on Dan’s military experience in another way.
“That is how we got our name because we are a military family and being free is important — you‘ve got freedom of the road and freedom of America,” he said.
In addition to his military experience, Dan Shirey has run several of his own businesses prior to Freedom.
Natasha Shirey, who has a master’s degree in business administration, started in the fashion industry as president of an eyewear company and then worked as a vice president of a food company.
The couple met, married and started their own family. They operated a day care for a while “but we decided it was not the business for us and we sold the day care,” Dan Shirey said.
Looking for another opportunity in 2012, the couple saw a truck for sale on Craig’s List and decided to give the industry a try. They purchased the truck and the owner’s one customer account — FedEx.
“It was quite a change for us. … We didn’t know how to drive our truck,” said Dan Shirey with a laugh.
“We went a very scary route — we used our savings,” Natasha Shirey said. “We were very lucky….”
Dan Shirey took extensive training in truck driving and obtained a commercial license. Now he manages the customer relations, sales and drivers training side of things. Natasha Shirey handles the financial side of the business.
The company has 12 employees. Some have been with the company since the business started four years ago.
Q: What is the greatest challenge you face?
Managing growth has been a good challenge for the Shireys. Since going into business, Freedom has doubled its revenues annually.
“We have four contracts pending and finding the time to help everybody is a challenge,” Dan Shirey said.
In addition, the Shireys are expecting their fourth child in August. They are looking to hire another office person to help handle the increased business and workload when Natasha is focused on the new baby.
In a nutshell
COMPANY: Freedom Transportation Inc.
ADDRESS: 12760 S. Constance, Olathe
TELEPHONE: 913 999-0914 or 913 999-2387
WEB SITE: www.freedomtranz.com