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How this minority Greenville CEO tripled his trucking business and is still growing

Krys Merryman //May 9, 2023//

How this minority Greenville CEO tripled his trucking business and is still growing

Krys Merryman //May 9, 2023//

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Justin Jenkins, right, CEO of Greenville-based Paveway Express, looks over project  plans. (Photo/Provided)

As a Greenville native, Justin Jenkins knew the location of his trucking business had to be where it all started for him.

Jenkins, owner of Paveway Express, said what drew him to the automotive logistics industry was growing up seeing a relative driving trucks for more than 15 years.

“Nothing moves in America without trucking,” said Jenkins. “When I went out of town, I would be on the road counting trucks and realized I can make it a business myself and make a profit by buying these trucks and getting them on the road.”

Jenkins also met a friend in the industry in 2016, which is how Paveway took flight, he said.

“He gave me a lot of information and was a mentor to me when I started out,” said Jenkins. “Then, I got the business going the following year in 2017. I knew we were right here in an automotive hub with a lot of Tier 1 and 2 auto suppliers, and within two months we already saw success with landing large accounts.”

One thing just led to another, he added, and by 2018, Paveway had as many as six trucks on the road.

In 2019, Paveway landed a transportation provider by BMW account and was also running supplies for Volvo.

“When that door opened, it was a blessing for us,” said Jenkins.

How networking drives business

Before Jenkins participated in the local Minority Business Accelerator program through the Greenville Chamber of Commerce in January 2020, he said Paveway was just doing business with no real structure in place. Then when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it had no business.

“We made a decision as a group to keep the program going but did it virtually,” he said. “I learned from the program in real time to get proper infrastructure, policies and procedures in place and worked on my business as a CEO instead of working for it. I am now running it.”

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Jenkins said networking is crucial in growing a business while also taking advantage of opportunities available where you live.

“I think in South Carolina there is a lot of support for minority businesses, especially with the Greenville Chamber,” he added. “For example, there is a pilot program through Fluor to get minority-certified, and they implement Fortune500 companies and their processes, so you have all your ducks in a row and are prepared to get business. It has been a great experience.”

Once Paveway was back in full operation following the pandemic, it went from 10 trucks to 20 in four months.

“Since, we have continued to build relationships through service and are now running 30 trucks and 40 trailers,” Jenkins said.

It purchased its new facility off White Horse Road last July, which is not only a warehouse but a shop. When it first started out, it was renting space, like truck parking spaces, from different facilities and after a few years outgrew that system.

“I had a goal and vision we could fill up our current five offices, and now we are close to running out of room — again,” said Jenkins.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, Paveway Express doubled its number of trucks, from 10 to 20. CEO Justin Jenkins, second from right, has a goal over the next five years  of running more than 150 trucks, opening more lines of transportation in the Southeast, such as in Charleston, Charlotte and Chattanooga, Tenn. (Photo/Provided)

Paveway emplosy 43 people while running freight for BMW, Mercedes rental vans, several other companies that are related to BMW such as window suppliers, plastics, Volvo, Volkswagen and Ocean X, said Jenkins.

“When I first started I had no idea or understanding of logistics and how everything worked with BMW and supply chain,” he said. “But once I realized, we took advantage of that, and a majority of the business is automotive supplier-related now.”

Jenkins, who has a knack for relationship-building, said he has been given the opportunity to help others and that’s why he named the company “Paveway.”

“It’s going to pave my way to my future and allows me to provide for my family,” said Jenkins. “It’s a billion-dollar industry and there is no ceiling. You can go as far as you want to go if you allow yourself to. I think I’m passionate about trucking, because I like logistics, putting pieces of the puzzle together and the way the supply chain functions.”

Addressing challenges while celebrating the wins

In trucking, there are a lot of things that could go wrong in a single day, said Jenkins.

To include trucks breaking down to the rise in fuel prices but knowing how to pivot and work on the fly is necessary to keep the business running, he said.

“We still have to find a way to get freight to the customers,” Jenkins added.

For most, that means having to raise prices for the customers.

“We personally haven’t seen a turnover in drivers, but it is getting harder to hire them,” Jenkins said.

Paveway previously were able to do a lot of its hiring by word-of-mouth, but due to the driver shortage, it offers incentives such as bonuses to make it worthwhile for them to work there, Jenkins added, in addition to working out social media campaigns.

Paveway is currently looking for five drivers and a mechanic and wanting to hire an in-house IT developer going into 2024.

One of Paveway’s top goals over the next five years is running more than 150 trucks, opening more lines of transportation in the Southeast such as Charleston, Charlotte and Chattanooga, Jenkins said.

“We have a great company culture and energy, low turnover rates, and we treat our employees as a family,” said Jenkins. “I try to manifest as much positive energy as I can here. We just scheduled a Paveway family and friends’ day for July 4th to celebrate with everyone by hosting a big cookout with bounce houses and other family-friendly activities to just celebrate each other for all the successes coming our way. We have a big Christmas gala, too. I have a vision, and I dream big. I’m constantly thinking about how we continue to maintain and get to the next level, what I need to do on a daily basis to continue to grow and build.

“I don’t want to ever get stagnant. I realized you must take advantage of any opportunity head-first when it presents itself.”