Magellan’s Rapid Expansion During COVID-19

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If there is anything Tom Piatak learned while a cadet at the United States Military Academy and in his tenure as a soldier it’s this: Weigh your options, consider a decision and make a move. Standing still is a non-negotiable.
Piatak — the founder, owner and chief executive of Jacksonville-based Magellan Transport Logistics — had to be decisive earlier this year. One of the largest veteran-owned businesses in Northeast Florida is now entering the end of the year with more momentum than a tank headed downhill.
Revenues have increased in each of the last six months, culminating in an outstanding October where revenue was 201 percent better than October 2019, Piatak said. The number of loads transported increased 160% year-over-year.
“The transportation infrastructure is extremely constrained,” Piatak said. “We still have to get the product there. If we can provide customers a solution, they are going to execute. The cost of missing a sale, versus, spending an extra $1,000 or $2,000 on transportation doesn’t add up. You spend the money on the sale. It’s going to be better for their books.
“We have been able to provide solutions. It’s helped us with existing customers (as well as with) word of mouth.”
Piatak projects Magellan has earned at least three dozen new customers this year, with revenues for the year on pace to more than double the $80 million in revenues in 2019.
Magellan’s chief executive said constant communication was the key to the company’s exponential growth this year.
Piatak was decisive when the coronavirus pandemic arrived in mid-March. Immediately, Magellan changed its standard operating procedures and communicated with vendors who could help employees operate their phone systems so they could work and operate remotely.
Magellan followed local, state and federal protocols during the work-from-home advisories in March and April while also establishing new protocols, introducing cleaning crews and separating employees for social distancing. Doing so positioned the company for growth when Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry lifted the city’s work-from-home mandate on May 18.
“We followed that even though we were an essential business… not knowing what was going on I said ‘Let’s play this conservatively,’ Piatak said. “We trained quickly. …We did operate remotely when things were shut down. We only had 20 percent of the workforce here in the building.”
That workforce has continued to grow. Magellan has more than 120 employees, nearly a quarter of which are veterans, and has hired 20 people since the slowdown.
Navy veteran Ebony Young is one of those brought on board. Young moved to Jacksonville from Greensboro, North Carolina, this spring looking to get into the logistics sector. She found a home at Magellan. This is her first week with the firm.
Young served in the Navy for four years, where her logistical duties included ordering and issuing supplies for the ship she was stationed on. She was discharged in 2012 and spent years working in a distribution center.
“Magellan has been an experience unlike anything I have experienced before,” Young said. “I feel like I belong there. The work comes natural to me. The team I am a part of, everyone is very helpful and everyone communicates well. I really like the engagement.”

(Jacksonville Business Journal) – Will Brown