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Rochester Chamber Top 100: Courier takes flight with customers flocking

Rochester Business Journal
August 5, 2016

The last two years have been pedal to the metal for Custom Courier Solutions Inc., which took a speedy and sometimes bumpy ride in a fast-growth lane starting at the end of 2013. It is a road its leaders are working to smooth out.

“We have consciously slowed our growth,” said Daniel Ayer, CEO and chief financial officer, who started the company with Christopher MacKrell in 2006. They had worked for CD&L Inc., a $250 million national provider of courier services, before starting Custom Courier Solutions.

The perfect storm that hit in the fourth quarter of 2013, arguably a storm they drove straight into, involved almost $4 million in new business through acquisition of the Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester markets of Velocity Express.

The company then took on a project upstate worth roughly $2 million that required them to hire employee drivers and purchase company trucks for the first time. And if that was not enough, they committed to a project from trucker Schneider National Inc. involving the shipment of auto parts around Baltimore, and then added similar localized operations in Winchester, Va.; Levittown, Pa; and Concord, N.H.

That was $8 million in new business in 60 days, Ayer said.

How did they do that?

“No clue,” Ayer said amiably. “I think we were confident that we could do almost anything, and hungry, and we didn’t want to pass up the opportunities. We made a plan, and we went with it.”

Revenue stood at about $20.8 million for 2013 and as a result of the growth spurt jumped to $29.2 million in 2014.

“It cost us dearly, cash-wise, profit-wise, (and) it really put a strain on the human capital,” Ayer said.

The sudden growth not only required investing in drivers and a company fleet, but Custom Courier also had to relocate all four of its storage facilities (in Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany) to larger sites and bring on workers who could make the operations function.

The number of employees grew from 177 in 2014 to 224 in 2015 and now stands at about 240. Similarly, revenue continued to grow after 2014 but at a more measured pace, with 2015 revenue at $32.5 million and projected revenue for 2016 of $35 million.

Brenda Kristoferson, facility manager in Newburgh, Orange County, was one of the people added to the company two years ago during the period of rapid growth.

“I’ve never worked at a company where the owners are so much involved,” she said of Ayer and MacKrell, who is president and chief operating officer. “They are out there with the rest of us. Chris has been out there doing deliveries—in his own vehicle.”

Good communication—the two partners encourage employees to speak up and say what they need—made the rapid growth possible, she said.

She is not the only one to say the partners work exceptionally well together. Kate Solano, vice president of corporate administration, said the two men make an amazing team.

Although MacKrell was out of the country and not available to comment, Ayer said he and MacKrell just get along.

“We just accept each other’s decisions, and we think along the same lines,” he said.

Ayer focuses on finance and administration, and MacKrell handles operations and business development.

Coming out the other side of the intense period of growth, Ayer said they spent 2015 focused on standardizing their processes and procedures and improving efficiency. When it comes to “last mile delivery,” or ensuring that goods reach their final destination, Ayer said they are well-positioned for future growth but want to be confident they have a successful model that can be replicated as they take advantage of new business opportunities outside New York and Pennsylvania.

While much of the transportation business is physical, given it involves moving freight from one place to another, information and tracking play a growing role in the industry. Customers not only want their material to arrive on time, they want to know where it is in the pipeline. Unlike United Parcel Service Inc., which has a proprietary tracking system, Custom Courier faces the challenge of interfacing with the varied systems of their customers, Ayer said.

As far as Ayer is concerned, Custom Courier is still in its formative stage. His long-range goal is to ensure the company is sustainable and can stand on its own without the day-to-day involvement of its founders.

And he has a personal reason for investing in its future success—one of his sons, just out of college, has started with the company.

The Rochester Chamber Top 100 program is presented by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2016 Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 3. For more information, go to

Custom Courier Solutions Inc.
Last mile delivery and logistics services company
Year founded: 2006
Top executive: Daniel Ayer, CEO and chief financial officer
Current employment: 240
2015 ranking: 16
Headquarters: Rochester

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