Description: Unishippers has grown into the largest reseller of complete shipping services in the country, with a long history of helping entrepreneurs build their dreams in an industry that never goes out of style. Opportunities: Franchises available throughout the United States. Business Type: Franchise. Minimum Cash Required: $75,000. Training Provided: Yes. Home-based: Yes. SBA-Approved: Yes.
Interview with Chip Baranowski of Unishippers
Shipping success for Brian Roberts and Caleb Nelson with Unishippers, the shipper for small businesses
When Brian Roberts talks about logistics he’s really talking about shipping. Shipping efficiently and economically that is.
“We help small and medium-sized businesses save money on shipping,” says Roberts who, along with partner Caleb Nelson, operates Unishippers, a nationally franchised shipping company. “I call it providing full-service logistics. Our carriers provide discounts for shipping based on volume.”
The good news for the 154 Oregon companies doing business with Unishippers is that their shipping volume is based on the volume level of all other customers nationwide.
“The more shipping you have, the bigger the discount, and our customers get their totals included with all our other shippers,” said Roberts, 28.
Roberts and Nelson invested in the company in 2005 and started out going door-to-door to drum up sales. Based in Albany, they operate the franchise for the entire Oregon area except Portland. By 2007 their company had grown enough to allow them to open a second branch in northern California.
Revenue went from $300,000 a year in ’05 to $2.5 million last year; $1.2 million of that is from Oregon customers alone. “When we started, we were the face of the company,” said Roberts. “There were some ups and downs, especially with the economy doing what it did, but we’ve grown through it.”
According to Nelson, most of Unishippers’ business is generated in the mid-Willamette Valley. “It’s definately our main thrust,” he says “But we have customers in Ashland, Bend and just about everywhere.”
Success requires a lot of hours of traveling, and their franchise association allows that to happen. They work from their homes and rely on their partnership with the national customer service office to provide immediate help for clients.
“The job requires us to be on the road, so having that option for our customers is very important,” Nelson said. “We’re here for them, and the good news is they will always be talking to a live person from the start. There’s no phone automation involved.”
The company has been around for more than 20 years. Roberts says there are more than 30 carriers for businesses to choose from, including UPS and Federal Express.
According to Nelson, Unishippers is the first authorized reseller for UPS in that company’s history.
Free rate analysis is provided for customers, which Nelson says helps people feel that the company can provide valuable options. “We can help create shipments and set up deliveries on the web, says Nelson, 26. “The best part is that the money stays in Oregon.”
Unishippers also employs one full-time shipping consultant, Michael Perry.
“All of us have young families, and this business has let us support them,” said Roberts. “It’s fun to see that happen.” Roberts and Nelson continue to meet each customer in person and believe that is the only way to stay successful. “We’re the face of the company,” Roberts said. "It’s all very rewarding for us. We’re really enjoying what we do.”
From an article by Steve Lathrop in the Albany Democrat-Herald, posted 24 May 2010.
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