After 26 years in the transportation industry, with the past 12 years at the helm of the logistics company he founded and bootstrapped in 2011, Dennis Martin says he is winding down operations.
In an exclusive interview with FreightWaves, Martin, CEO of SEL Supply Chain Solutions (SELSCS) of Fort Worth, Texas, said his year started off with a $700,000 load of video poker machines being stolen in Las Vegas and “everything went downhill from there.”
“I would describe this year as being the year of fraud, theft and abuse, starting out with that $700,000 load stolen, then insurance goes up and costs go up,” Martin said. “After a solid year in 2022, where we generated $64 million in gross revenue, we lost 40% of our business this year for whatever reason.”
The death knell for his freight brokerage was when Martin’s bank started placing restrictions that limited the company’s access to capital on a daily basis.
“Our bank kept moving the goalposts on a daily basis,” Martin told FreightWaves. “We were unable to come to an agreement with our bank on our day-to-day cash flow needs for various reasons.”
At its peak, Martin said, 125 people, including 45 independent freight agents and a back-office support team in Honduras, were involved in the daily operations of SELSCS.
This week, Martin and his team are winding down the company and working with the bank to make sure that they get all the receivables they have pledged to cover and to work with the bank to hopefully pay carriers.
“I hate this for the carriers and their families for what they are going through this year with a major drop in rates and freight volumes,” he said. “Our hope is to get them paid.”
He’s also working with another logistics company to hire his independent agents and other staff. Martin also plans to sell the company’s headquarters in Fort Worth to again try and pay carriers that are owed money for hauling loads for SELSCS.
“Every year in this business has been challenging but without a doubt this has been the most challenging year I’ve had with everything that we faced with double brokering fraud, stealing loads, stealing carriers’ identities,” Martin said. “I’ve had my rate confirmations falsified and sent out to carriers and then I get carriers calling me looking for money and I’m like, ‘Well, you didn’t haul one of my loads, you were defrauded.’”
Martin originally founded Smith Eagle Logistics but rebranded the company to SELSCS in March 2022. The company provided third-party logistics services for refrigerated, dry van and flatbed freight throughout the United States and Mexico. Some of his major accounts included Home Depot, Kraft Heinz and Mike’s Hard Lemonade.
“It’s a cyclical business and I did everything that I needed to do to keep the company afloat because the last thing I wanted to do was close, but there’s just some forces out there in the market that not everybody’s gonna survive,” Martin said. “I’ve been doing this for 26 years and no one day has ever been easy in this industry.”
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