When Cindy Lee launched Lync Logistics in May of 2014, she envisioned the freight brokerage business as a sideline to her main job at Lesco Logistics, a family-owned trucking firm she helped run for more than a decade.
Lee says she ventured into the freight brokerage business by creating what was first Lync of America because she didn't like what other freight brokers were doing to her business.
"I hated brokers," she recalls. "They can be the bane of a trucking company by not delivering on what they promised. So I figured I can do this better."
The trucking industry veteran adds "my big goal initially was to have about five brokers to help our trucking business grow."
But Lync Logistics quickly became one of Chattanooga's fastest-growing businesses. Lync, which generated $800,000 in revenues in its first year, is expected to top $30 million in sales this year for the first time. The company ranked last year as the third-fastest growing female-owned business in all of America.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I expect we would grow as much as we have," Lee says.
The freight brokerage firm Lee started as a part-time venture became her full-time job in 2017 when she shut down Lesco Logistics. She began Lync with her two daughters and the company has since grown to include 29 brokers and eight other support-staff workers.
"We've still got room for a lot of growth, but one of the things I'm focused on now is sustainability," Lee says. "Rapid growth without anything behind it isn't very good."
Last year, Lync Logistics ranked No. 366 on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing small businesses, and the company was among eight local freight brokers and other logistics companies on the Inc. list.
"The founding of Access America changed the freight industry and they brought a lot of people to Chattanooga who, after the company was sold, went on to start other businesses; and that has done a lot to propel this industry here," Lee says. "Obviously, you have a lot of logistics talent here. You tend to think, if those guys can do it, so can I."
Lee and her daughters are the only female heads and owners of a Chattanooga's freight broker, which is typically dominated by male workers.
Lee says she thinks, as a woman, she has been treated differently by some lenders and truckers, but she has used her gender to create a more family-oriented business and relationship with its trucking partners to help attract and retain more employees longer.
Coming out of the trucking background, Lee says she brings a trucking perspective to match the focus on shippers showed by most freight brokers.
"We have really good employees; we watch our expenses and we have a really good bank on our side," Lee says. "We invest in our people, use cutting edge equipment and technology and leverage our experience to provide the highest quality of service possible. We measure our success through the success of our customers."
* Job: Founder and president of Lync Logistics
* Influence: Lee grew her 5-year-old freight brokerage business into one of the fastest growing businesses in Chattanooga and the third fastest growing female-owned company in America.
* Just for fun: The company mascot, Lebron, and other pets often visit Lync’s offices, which include putting greens, foosball tables and beer taps. She enjoys spending time with her two grandchildren