Founded by Mark George in Memphis with one truck driver in 1982, Intermodal Cartage Co. Inc. has grown steadily for nearly 30 years and now has locations in 26 cities nationwide.
With a gross annual income hovering around $150 million, IMCG now employs more than 1,100 workers.
IMCG presently owns seven operating companies. Five of those are trucking companies, and two are maintenance and repair companies that specifically repair ocean-carrier containers and chassis.
The company is a provider of intermodal transportation services, and its main focus is international shipments – servicing import and export cargo. When George launched his business, containerized shipments over the Memphis gateway were just beginning to evolve.
“Most trucking companies in town didn’t want to deal with going in and out of the railroads and picking up containerized shipments,” George said. “They didn’t like dealing with U.S. Customs (and Border Protection), and none of the ocean carriers had offices here in the U.S.”
By meeting a service need, George took advantage of what turned out to be an opportunity of enormous proportions. Being in Memphis – which embraced the slogan of “America’s Distribution Center” and later “America’s Aerotropolis” – certainly helped out, as well.
IMCG is still growing, and under the current business plan, George expects to double in size every five years. So far, that has happened.
“It’s my vision to see our company reach $1 billion in sales,” George said.
Beyond being in the right place at the right time, a number of factors played into his success, including his employees.
“(Success) had a lot to do with getting the right leadership on board in our company – the right employees,” George said. “I’ve also been blessed with some good clients that have been very supportive of building our company.”
Though the economy has struggled with little gross domestic product during the recession, the demand for trucking services is still relatively high, George said. As a result, IMCG grew by 25 percent in 2011.
The demand for trucking services remains strong with little or slow growth in the economy, but when the economy starts to heat up, a shortage of drivers could loom ahead.
“A shortage of truck drivers would affect everybody,” George said. “It would affect the cost of goods being transported – things like clothes and food. A truck transports those things at some point. So, I think we are in a good position for when the economy has any decent growth at all. The demand for our services will be really high.”
Though George is not the face of the company anymore, most of his time is spent in conference rooms with the presidents of each of his operating companies, defining vision and strategy.
“I’m their biggest cheerleader,” George said. “They’re on the front line, and I’m kind of in the back room coaching.”
IMCG takes stringent steps to maintain container security. Its 165-acre facility on East Holmes Road is equipped with security checkpoints, surrounded by an electric fence, and every load is locked.
“Security is very important to us,” said Katie Hooser, who handles the company’s business development. “We want to make it so difficult to compromise our security that anyone who was considering taking something would just go someplace else where it would be easier. There are all kinds of things in the containers, and they’re valuable to our wide range of clients. First and foremost, we want to look out for the best interests of our customers.”