Life does not always go exactly as we have planned – and sometimes, that is great! Originally, Nancy Spelsberg dreamed of owning a small manufacturing company because she “wanted to make something,” but that’s not quite the way it turned out. Today, Nancy is a “rising star” in the trucking world as one of the owners and president of BCP Transportation in Deerfield, Wisconsin. And with the majority of ownership and control at the hands of women, this company is certainly a little different than many of the other trucking companies out there.
At 36 years old, Nancy has a degree in industrial engineering and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She worked for Alliant Energy Corp. in Madison for over 10 years, where, among other things, she helped large energy-consuming businesses find creative ways to reduce their power usage. When she was a distribution center manager there, it was her responsibility to coordinate supply hauls – a job that would certainly help her in her next endeavor.
Owning and operating a big trucking company was not at the top of her list when Nancy started her search for a company to make her own, but she is very happy with the road it put her on. There is no trucking connection in her family – her father is a medical researcher at the Mayo Clinic and her mom is a former elementary school teacher. That makes this a road that she got on all by herself.
To begin her search for a company to make her own, she followed the advice of one of her past instructors and did a Dunn & Bradstreet search of businesses. From there, she chose 70 businesses to send letters to, asking them if there was a chance they would be retiring soon and if they had a succession plan. Badger Custom Pallet in Fall River, WI was one of the half dozen companies that answered her letter. The pallet company had been started to help serve the customers of their trucking company, Badger Express, which was in business from 1992-2005.
Making the drive to Fall River to check out the operation, Nancy was surprised to find that it was a very large company – in fact, it was bigger than what she thought she could handle. But, there were four trucks to haul the pallets, and that would be enough to split off and start a fresh, new, separate company. Nancy didn’t do this alone. She put together a group of 12 people, with women owning 60% of the company, and in May of 2011 BCP Transportation was born. The purchase included their authority and the assets (the authority was quickly changed from being a private carrier to a for-hire carrier). When I asked Nancy what BCP stood for she told me that it originally stood for Badger Custom Pallet, but now it has no official meaning. But, around the office, they like to joke that it stands for Babes Carrying Packages!
By putting a group of forward-thinking people together for her team, Nancy has accomplished a lot in a very short amount of time. In just over two years, the four trucks have grown to 48 company trucks (four of them are being leased to owner operators), 180 trailers, and 74 drivers, including those driving their 28 owner operator trucks. In honor of their recent accomplishments, BCP Transportation was presented with the Wisconsin Women Business Rising Star Award from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation last October. It is an award given to a business that is less than four years old with great promise, and believe me, this company has great promise.
With the ability to service not only the transportation aspect of a move but the logistics and warehousing, as well, BCP Transportation is a full service transportation company. Their staff brings over 100 years combined experience in the transportation industry, giving them the ability and insight to resolve any issue that may come up with their customers. Nancy quite candidly told me, “The more I know, the more I know I don’t know.” But, surrounding herself with people that DO know is a big part of BCP’s success. When she worked in the energy business, those were the hardest working people she had ever met – but that was until she started working with truckers. “They are out there beating the pavement every day and complain very little,” says Nancy. Now, I have been a truck driver for 37 years, and for a boss to say that truck drivers don’t complain much, she has got to be doing something right!
BCP’s local fleet serves the entire state of Wisconsin and parts of both Illinois and Minnesota. With a moderate-sized local fleet and quick response time, they can save their customers money by reducing their inventory and giving them on-time service for “Just In Time” shipments. BCP’s over-the-road trucks offer reliable and timely delivery to anywhere in the United States. Their drivers are courteous and professional and their trailers are spic and span. Most of the repairs to the fleet can be done at their shop in their building. With two truck mechanics and three trailer mechanics dedicated to taking care of BCP’s vast fleet of equipment, breakdowns on the road are a rare occurrence.
Being an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin, Nancy and her company also do the hauling for the UW Badger football team, hauling all of their equipment to away games and bowl games. One truck and one trailer, which have been completely wrapped in Badger graphics, are dedicated to the football team. During home games, the rig is parked out in front of the football stadium to show off their Badger pride. Partnered with Truck Country Freightliner for this venture, who is also a big supporter of UW Athletics, the dealership provides the truck, and then BCP provides the trailer and drivers, and then also handles all of the operation and execution. It has been a great way for Nancy to give something back to her alma mater.
BCP Transportation also operates a warehousing facility custom tailored to its customer’s needs. From full service 3PL storage and distribution services, to cross dock services and container transloading, they have you covered for all your warehousing needs. BCP provides customized inventory tracking solutions to provide better visibility on the day-to-day shipping and receiving that their customers need. Daily online updates allow them the flexibility required for off-site storage. They also offer brokerage services. From LTL to truckload, they have access to over 20,000 quality carriers in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
When I asked Nancy how she really feels about the trucking business, she said, “I love it! Every day there is a challenge, and every day is different – it’s exciting!” I think maybe the biggest key to this company’s success is Nancy’s positive attitude, which seems to permeate the entire organization. This positive atmosphere has also impacted their low turnover rate – at roughly only 10% (which includes people they have had to let go for safety reasons), it is way lower than most trucking companies. The people that work at BCP are not just a number – they are people. A few months ago they celebrated driver appreciation week, like some other companies did, but they took it a step further and dedicated an entire day to say “thank you” to the shop and warehouse guys, too.
Any of you that have been reading my column know how I feel about my dogs, and I have to say that I was very impressed with BCP’s pet policy. As a driver, you are required to bring your dog or pet into the office when you are in the yard. If you forget them in the truck, you will be sent back out to get them. Pets are even allowed to visit in the office for an hour or two while their owner runs errands. For those of you out there that run with pets in your truck, you know how awesome that would be!
Nancy would like to thank all of the companies that they work with now and those they might work with in the future. Her plan is to grow the company accordingly – when there is enough freight and they find a good driver, another truck will be added. Vice President Todd Jourdan told me that he has no issues with Nancy being in charge, as long as she is always smarter than he is. Not many men have that kind of attitude, and what makes it even more remarkable is that he is the one with the trucking experience. Nancy says that she has learned much about the industry by asking her mentor Todd a lot of dumb questions. I am sure that her questions are not dumb, and like they say, “The only dumb question is the one not asked.”
Looking to learn even more, Nancy recently joined Women in Trucking – an organization established to encourage the employment of women in trucking, promote their accomplishments, and minimize the obstacles faced by women working in this industry. I think Nancy will be a great asset to this organization (and vice-versa). If you are a woman involved in trucking, you might want to join this organization, too. Visit them online (www.womenintrucking.org) to find out more about this helpful organization.
I would like to thank my friend John Friday for sending me an article that was published in the Wisconsin State Journal about Nancy and BCP because he thought I would be interested. Well, I was! I also want to thank everyone I got to meet the day I brought my “kids” to visit and take pictures. The work gets done, the loads get hauled, and there is some fun along the way. It’s my belief that dogs are a good judge of character, and I have to say that mine loved Nancy Spelsberg and everybody else at BCP Transportation. These “rising stars” get two paws up from me for a job well-done – and they are just getting started. To learn more about BCP or to utilize their services, visit them online (www.bcptrans.com) today.