Kelly Christy founded TTS Logistics in San Diego, California.
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Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
At TTS Logistics, Inc. our primary concentration is shipping exhibit materials to and from trade shows world-wide. TTS Logistics, Inc. recently started an installation and dismantle (I&D) service as well as exhibit rentals and storage. TTS Logistics, Inc. is now a one stop shop trade show service provider.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I worked for another company that provided shipping for trade shows for 6 years. After completing my MBA, I decided that starting my own business was a destination that I wanted to pursue.
Who did you hire to help you? Bookkeeper, Accountants, Lawyers …? Would you suggest others do the same?
Obviously in the beginning, money was an issue. With limited capital, we were forced to wear multiple hats including sales, operations, accounting, administration, and creative services. If a company is able to start with good working capital, I would strongly suggest hiring the "experts" in those fields and save you from a 14-hour minimum workday!
Have you hired additional staff? What is your greatest human resources challenge?
We have a total of 13 people working at TTS Logistics, Inc. Human resources are one of the biggest challenges facing a business owner. Managing different personalities, knowing State and Federal regulations concerning employment law and staying on top of them is the biggest challenge facing new companies.
Do you own a business with family members? What do you think are the benefits and challenges to running a family owned business?
I do not own a business with family but I do have family members working here at TTS Logistics, Inc. For me, it's a real blessing. They are extremely hard working and dedicated and I can trust them to always do what is best for TTS Logistics, Inc. The challenge comes when you decide to hire a family member and it doesn't work out. My partner and I recently had to make the difficult decision of letting one of his family members go because the fit wasn't right. Needless to say, it's a very difficult decision and one not made lightly.
Finding employees to work in a new and growing business can be a challenge. How did you find your employees?
Most of our current team is comprised of individuals that left previous companies in our industry and wanted to work for TTS Logistics, Inc. because of what they had heard from their friends. In the beginning, we would do like most businesses and simply place ads, but we found that the quality of respondents just wasn't there for us. Given the longevity of those that came to us by employee word of mouth, we decided to make it an incentive for employee's to refer applicant that's they feel would strengthen our team at TTS Logistics.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
The biggest challenge I see is trying to stay abreast of the constantly changing laws that govern TTS Logistics, Inc. As with any business, TTS Logistics must comply with City, County, State, and Federal regulations that include Workers Comp, Liability Insurance, Unemployment Law, etc. Because of the nature of the business that TTS Logistics is involved with, we are also under the TSA, Department of Transportation, and Customs and Boarder protection. Apart from those challenges there are also great rewards as well. Provide a positive working environment that makes people happy to be a part of is a huge source of pleasure for me. I have watched some employees over the years obtain health insurance for their entire family for the first time by working for TTS logistics, Inc., or buy a house, pay off debt, get a second family car.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Know your competition and be prepared for the down times in the economy. Marketing budgets often get cut first which effects how much money a company has to spend on trade shows.
Thanks for the great advice, Kelly.