EDGE Cleveland trucking start-up experiencing big early success

EDGE Cleveland trucking start-up experiencing big early success

August 1st, 2016 by Alex Green in EDGE

Anthony, Ashley and Stuart Wallace stand with an AmTrans USA truck.

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

There's a new name in trucking in Southeast Tennessee.

It's AmTrans USA, a Cleveland-based full-service trucking and logistics company, which is anticipating $18 million in sales this year, after less than two years in business. AmTrans was formed in the fall of 2014 and made its first sale in January 2015.

The company is owned and operated by husband and wife, Anthony and Ashley Wallace, who will celebrate two years of marriage on July 19. Starting a small business right after a wedding would be too much for a lot of couples. But trucking is one of the cornerstones of the Wallaces' relationship. They met while both worked at Chattanooga-based trucking giant U.S. Xpress. Ashley was in human resources, and Anthony was in safety.

"That's all we know, is working together," Anthony says.

The couple opened a $250,000 line of credit to launch AmTrans and invested the money in their Cleveland headquarters, located on the third floor of an office building on North Ocoee Street. Those first few months, Anthony Wallace set up the office's telecom network on his own time and with his own know-how.

Ashley said the couple invested their resources on the front end, believing — knowing — growth would follow. And it did — faster than projected.

"Where we're at now, we expected to be there in three, four years," Anthony says. "We're there in 18, 19 months."

There's no secret ingredient for the success, the Wallaces say. But there is a guiding philosophy, a call for urgency.

"We approach every situation like it's fourth-and-one," says Anthony.

It's the former collegiate football player's athletic background at work. Anthony played football all throughout school. He was part of a championship Red Bank High School team and went on to play for the University of Tennessee in 2001 and 2002, a two-year span in which the Volunteers posted a 19-7 win-loss record and played for an SEC conference championship.

Even after college (which he left early to pursue a football career), Anthony played semi-pro ball on the weekends while working full-time at U.S. Xpress. These days, there are still football helmets in his office, but Anthony competitive drive is turned to business and growing the Wallace's young company. He works in the office all day and then tracks AmTrans trucks on the computer at home.

Ashley understands the drive. She comes from a family of successful Cleveland entrepreneurs and business leaders herself.

"Growing up and seeing my parents' work ethic, they definitely instilled it in me," she says. "I feel like I have it in my blood, just to be honest with you."

The Wallaces say they want to continue growing the company and expand on AmTrans' current four-truck fleet and logistics and freight brokering services.

They also want to continue contributing to charitable organizations and giving back, like the current campaign they're running over the next eight weeks to raise money for the Pat Summit Foundation.

Anthony and Ashley say it's the folks around them, the all-star team of friends, former colleagues and family they've pieced together in Cleveland who make AmTrans successful.

Anthony pointed at Kile Moore, AmTrans president, and Pax Presnell, AmTrans vice president, as key examples.

"Listen, I would not be here if it wasn't for these two guys," he says. "This business would shut down tomorrow if we lost these two."

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.