By Kamille D. Whittaker
Amari Ruff was a 30-something entering a legacy industry with a problem to solve: There was a significant underserved market for small- and mid-sized trucking companies, and the individuals that made up a majority of that underserved market were designated minorities. So, he launched Sudu Logistics in 2014 – Sudu, aptly meaning ‘speed’ in Chinese — after realizing the challenges diverse carriers had competing for and obtaining large contract opportunities from large corporations. As part of a “strength in numbers” consortium, of sorts, carriers can leverage Sudu’s vast network to compete for the contracts. He had done it before on a relatively smaller scale, most recently as CEO and founder of Global Optic Telco, a residential and commercial telecommunications services provider for Comcast, Charter, Time Warner and Cox among other large corporations. He started the company with one technician and one truck and scaled it to 200-plus trucks and five offices across the United States in 3.5 years, at which point it was acquired. Years later, but at the same 3.5 year mark, Sudu had grown to have more than 300,000 diverse trucking companies within its network and a swelling $20 million valuation. Simultaneously, Sudu’s customers – like Walmart, P&G, Anheuser-Busch, Georgia-Pacific and UPS – are happily meeting their supplier diversity spend benchmarks for logistics and transportation. Problem solved.
The Blueprint // I wanted to create a company and take a heightened focus on the subset group of minority trucking companies. I knew that large corporations had their supplier diversity initiatives but at the end of the day, they had trouble finding and working with these MBEs. Ninety percent had six or less trucks, and in order to work with these larger organizations, you had to have capacity, infrastructure, access to capital and be scalable. I knew that with Sudu’s infrastructure and what we could do from a tech perspective that not only could we put them on a better plateau to help them make more money and run their businesses more efficiently, but we were also solving a large need in the market from a corporation perspective of trying to put those supplier diversity dollars to work.
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