S3T, Ltd

S3T, Ltd

S3T, Ltd | Sanford, NC

Michael Eckhardt

Q: Describe your business:

S3T is the name of my business. We are a micro trucking company that is contracted to move Coca Cola products from bottling facilities to distribution facilities in the southeast.

I am 100% Veteran Owned right now, and all of my employees are combat veterans. I plan to continue to employ veterans, with preferential selection of combat veterans as future employees.

Q: What’s your story?

S3T was started in June of 2011 and we originally partnered with New Generation Trucking for logistical planning and regulatory compliance. We began stand-alone operations in 2012 and primarily moved dry freight in the southeast region until November of 2013, when we began our current contract with Coca Cola.

Q: Has the SBTDC helped?

Absolutely. I have taken advice from the SBTDC counselors at every major decision point through the last couple of year and my business has benefited greatly from the sound advice and research provided by the SBTDC.

I have had several meetings with Lexie Denman and originally she helped me with my business plan. Then we transitioned into cost benefit analysis for different options in truck leasing vs. purchasing and fuel program management. Last year she organized a team of students to research methods of reducing fuel costs, maintenance costs and driver turnover.

Q: Have you seen an impact on the business?

Right now my business is more of a hobby business that does not require a great deal of my time or energy. In the coming months I am going to expand my business to turn the corner from a micro business to a small business and my gross income will more than triple. I currently have 3 employees; however, I am planning to expand my business this summer from 3 to 5 and later this year from 5 to 7.

Q: What advice do you have for starting a business? S3T Ltd truck

I made two major mistakes when starting my business. The first mistake was taking bad advice. I planned to operate my business with oversight and advice from a parent company, only to learn the parent company was mismanaged and on its way out of business. Only after I realized I had made some fiscal and managerial mistakes did I write my business plan and really begin to understand the financial and managerial structuring that I needed to accomplish. Lexie was instrumental in helping me educate myself and turn around my business.

The second mistake I made was using my own money to start the business. Of course a new business owner should expect to make financial contributions from personal assets, but I invested about 50K of money from my retirement savings, and borrowed another 25K through a personal loan to start my business. I should have researched the market I wanted to operate my business in, written my business plan, and then secured a Small Business Loan in conjunction with some personal assets to start my business.

Story originally featured in the SBTDC’s 2013-2014 Annual Report.

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