BOARDMAN, Ohio — A local transportation brokerage company that specializes in shipping passenger cars throughout the country has shifted business into high gear.
“Car shipping has become more popular since more people are buying online,” says Eric Ray, CEO of Easy Auto Shipa transportation brokerage firm at 860 Boardman-Canfield Rd.
The company serves as a broker between private vehicle owners and thousands of carriers across the United States, Ray says. Essentially, the company acts as a matchmaker between the carrier and customer, arranging for the transportation company to pick up and deliver vehicles from one part of the country to another.
“It’s a cool business,” he says. “Everyone has a situation and we’re here to solve their situation. Shipping a car is not a small thing.”
Customers who have used Easy Auto Ship’s services include NBA Dallas Maverick owner and “Shark Tank” television celebrity Mark Cuban, Ray says. The company has brokered deals that have shipped everything from a promotional hot dog car to Ferraris and collector items such as a 1961 Mach 1 Mustang.
“I love that car,” Ray says with a smile.
Ray says the company was established 12 years ago, and much of the business is governed by software that identifies carriers that can best accommodate customers who need to ship a vehicle long distance. These carriers will then build routes across the country to maximize their loads with other customers, he says.
“We find out the situation, get a time frame, find a qualified carrier, and arrange it,” he says.
On a typical Monday morning, more than a dozen employees with headsets are in front of computer screens in Easy Auto Ship’s control room handling customer accounts.
The auto shipping business has exploded over the past decade, driven mostly by high-speed internet access and online purchases by customers from private owners or dealerships anywhere in the country and Canada.
“Fifteen years ago, if you didn’t have high-speed internet, then you couldn’t shop on sites such as Autotrader,” the CEO remarks. Customers also use the service to transport vehicles to seasonal homes and other destinations.
Easy Auto Ship makes its money by collecting an average brokerage fee of $250 for every shipment, Ray says. Last year, the company experienced $30 million in sales and he anticipates doubling that number in five years.
On average, the company deals with approximately 15,000 core carriers but has arranged hauls with about 50,000 different transportation companies over the years, he says.
Vital to the company’s growth is Google and investments in search engine optimization, or SEO, strategies, Ray says. The company, for example, is ranked No. 1 on Forbes Advisor under Best Car Shipping Companies for April 2022.
“Relationships are key and there are thousands of brokerage companies out there,” he says.
High-profile search engine positions with sites such as Forbes help drive the best leads, Ray says. “Google runs my business.”
Such an online presence is what alerted Lindsay Mickles to the company, who was looking to ship a Fiat 500 from Sarasota, Fla., to a family member in Westchester, Ohio, near Cincinnati.
“It was the first time I ever shipped a car and I was nervous,” Mickles says. “I looked at the reviews online and saw they were from Ohio,” her home state.
Mickles says the company helped select a carrier and the vehicle was picked up and delivered in less than three days. “They put my mind at ease and followed up with me as well.”
Ray says the company employs 24, and he expects to hire another six within the next 60 days as the shipping season hits full gear.
Yet finding qualified employees has become more of a challenge, adds Joe Reynoso, Easy Auto Ship’s chief operating officer.
“Hiring has its challenges,” he says. “The field is not as big as it used to be, but we have a lot of good people.”
Reynoso oversees most of the firm’s operations, human resources and training programs. “We want employees who want to make us better, not just to fill a seat,” he says.
Ray adds that positions with the company are unique in that they are not traditional sales jobs. The talent, he says, comes with building relationships instead of trying to sell a product or service. “It’s set up as a sort of call-center operation,” he says. “I’ve seen experienced sales people fail in this job and then have an 18-year old just out of high school make $100,000 their first year.”
Still, Ray says the company has nearly doubled its base pay to attract and retain its sales force, the CEO says. “It’s a serious career job.”
Meanwhile, the company has set it sights on expansion.
“We’re thinking about a little bigger footprint,” he says, noting its current location is tight for space. “We’ve launched a new website and I’m hoping to get even better SEO positions.”
Pictured at top: Easy Auto Ship CEO Eric Ray and Joe Renoso, chief operating officer.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.