Seizing opportunity: How Carlos Garcia built Chattanooga-based LogistiX from a single 'yes'

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / LogistiX founder Carlos Garcia at LogistiX headquarters in Chattanooga on Friday, February 25, 2022.

Carlos Garcia likes to say yes, so when an acquaintance asked him six years ago whether he and his cleaning company crew could build out a fulfillment center in Chattanooga, he had his answer ready.

"I said, 'Of course we can!'" Garcia says, laughing.

The crew did such a good job that the acquaintance asked if they could set up some more warehouses, including a couple in Alabama and North Carolina. Did they have enough people to do six more?

"I said, 'We do!'" Garcia says, then quickly adds: "We didn't. I started hiring like crazy – friends and family, everyone – and we ended up doing the six warehouses, which became 20, which became 30."

Now LogistiX, the business that began in 2016 with that 'yes,' has completed more than 6,000 projects, including warehouses and fulfillment centers across the U.S. and in Canada. The company outfits massive warehouses for large-scale, online retailers – a business that has boomed in the last two years.

"We've been growing like crazy," Garcia says.

The build-outs include installing everything from security and technology to assembling furniture and inventory systems and hanging fire extinguishers, he says. Up next is expansion into Mexico, where the auto manufacturing sector has created tremendous demand for warehousing and fulfillment infrastructure, as well as the U.K. and Spain.

"Next step is global domination," Garcia says, laughing - but maybe not kidding. "I have a really hard time saying no. I always say, 'Yes I can,' and that's gotten me in trouble, but it's also a factor I attribute my success to."

Based in the 60,000-square-foot office and warehouse in Red Bank he bought in 2019, Garcia has a core team of about 60 workers, but he also relies on a network of thousands to get these massive jobs done, he says.

"In any given year we employ 9,000 temporary workers," Garcia says.

The spaces his crews build out are hundreds of thousands to millions of square feet, Garcia says.

"You need a golf cart for that," he says, pointing to poster-sized images of the vast warehouses his crews have assembled.

The walls of LogistiX headquarters are a photo gallery of finished jobs, and Garcia can walk from photo to photo and tell the story of each build-out. From that first job, he has been hands-on and on-site all over the country, supervising and learning and working alongside his teams, Garcia says.

"You have to understand your product," he says. "You have to understand what you sell, and the only way to do it is to do it."

As the company has grown, he's had to learn to lean out a bit, which is something he struggles with, Garcia says.

Carlos Garcia

* Role: Founder and general manager of LogistiX* Hometown: Bogota, Colombia* Family: Garcia and his wife, Angela, have three children ages 15, 11 and 8

"I've learned to delegate a little more but I'm really involved – I'm in every meeting, every call," he says. "I might run the risk of being a micromanager."

Hands-on has been a theme of Garcia's career. He came to the U.S. in 1999 from Colombia to attend Covenant College, and worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. He washed the undercarriages of trucks at a truck stop in North Georgia, and valet parked cars at a downtown Chattanooga hotel.

After earning a degree in organizational management in 2005, he went to work for North American Credit Services, rising through the ranks to a role as director of training and development. But he had the urge to start his own business, and eventually jumped into entrepreneurship, first as a founder of a company that resells whiskey barrels, then launching a commercial cleaning business that grew to 67 employees before he sold it to focus on expanding LogistiX.

"Through my years working for somebody else, I learned the best way to change people's lives is by giving them a good living," Garcia says. "The more we grow, the more families I'm able to support."

Walking around the warehouse space behind his office headquarters, Garcia jokes that he has played Cupid more than once, shares stories of employees who have met on job sites and ended up married, of houses bought and babies born to people who are members of his team.

"I'm not a guy who's just motivated by revenue," he says. "I really get motivated by the story."

In October, Garcia won the first-ever Latino Entrepreneur of the Year award during Chattanooga's Startup Week in October. Despite his penchant for saying yes, he had mixed feelings about the distinction, Garcia says.

"It took some time for them to convince me to do it," he says. "I told them, 'Promise me that next year you will consider us for just business of the year."

Chattanooga's place as an epicenter of logistics means the opportunities for growth for LogistiX abound, Garcia says.

"Right now, LogistiX is the holy grail, the macaroni and the cheese," Garcia says, smiling. "It's the kind of company I want to concentrate on because I see a massive opportunity for it."