Matt Lawrence is CEO at Fox Logistics, an asset-based transportation specialist business. Over the past decade, Matt has cultivated a deep understanding of time-critical transportation management. After taking over the reins of Fox Logistics as a mom-and-pop shop in 2014, Matt has established vital skills in managing logistics, transportation, inventory, and supply chains. Matt Lawrence and Fox Logistics are your go-to for managing less-than-truckload and 3rd party logistics. In 2022, Fox Logistics ranked #268 on the year’s Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in the United States.
Matt holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida. He is an active volunteer of the Wounded Warrior Project – a nonprofit organization that helps veterans and active duty service members. Matt lives in Nocatee, Florida, with his wife Brandy, and two sons, Michael and James.
Where did the idea for Fox Logistics come from?
Fox Logistics has an interesting story. It originally started in 1992, when I was in the 3rd grade. So, I wasn’t the founder of Fox Logistics. Earlier, I was working with my family’s trucking company, and Fox Logistics was one of our customers and brokers that we worked with extensively. Over about eight years, I got to know the owners well, and when they were looking to retire, I was ready to set out on my own. Fox Logistics started as a small mom-and-pop shop, but we worked out a good deal for everyone, and I subsequently took over in 2014.
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
Things are pretty busy! I usually wake up between 5 AM and 6 AM. I have three kids – 5 and under – so my first couple of hours in the day are generally dedicated to them. After that, I generally try to begin my day right around 8 AM or a little bit before that. I’ve found that mornings are when I’m productive, so I push all the day’s meetings to the afternoon to dial in and focus on the critical things. So whether it is turning down Slack notifications or wearing my headphones, the focus is on getting work done. I have a lot of meetings during the week, so, as I mentioned earlier, I schedule them during the afternoon.
After that, I tend to dedicate more time to my kids or indulge in recreational activities, like playing a sport or spending time with my wife.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I mentioned this earlier, but I struggled with “shiny-object syndrome.” We tend to get excited about a new idea, but after a week or two, something new comes along, causing you to change your focus too much. One of the most straightforward “hacks” I have found is that I have created a Google Doc called “Idea File.” I made the document to get these ideas out of my head and on paper. I tend to go back and review it now and then if it feels like an idea worth pursuing. Then, put the idea in front of everyone – your entire team – to find gaps in your thinking. If all goes well, we put a time-based goal and a strategy to bring the idea to life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Automation! It is one of the trends that is ushering in our industry. Mind you, and I’m not talking about autonomous trucks. I’m talking about manual, laborious tasks that took 5-10 minutes; now, with the help of automation, they get completed in a fraction of the time. For example, say we’re parsing documents for specific information. We automatically route such documents using APIs into our transportation management system. Quoting, for instance, used to take a lot of spreadsheets – collating the information and sending emails – we can achieve all of this with the help of automation platforms.
Fox Logistics recently acquired a company called Boxton, a freight automation platform. It has demonstrated the power that we now have 45 people working in Fox Logistics, and we have two employees working for Boxton – but they account for about 25% of our total revenue. So this is something that we want to use as a launchpad to grow our traditional side and show the power of automation to free people’s time to solve complex problems instead of focusing on data entries.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
There is a habit that is something that I preach throughout my entire organization: “inbox zero.” So many people keep thousands of emails in their inboxes, which drives me crazy! In our business, email is one of the primary means of communication – when we’re communicating globally and across different time zones. Make sure you clear out your inbox daily to focus on every task ahead; that’s important. This habit ensures you’re always ready to respond whenever something new comes in.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would say do as many jobs as you possibly can. Find what excites you, what you’re good at, and then go all in with that! That’s on the career side, though.
On a personal level, travel a lot more! Some of the most incredible experiences of my life before my marriage and having kids revolved around traveling. Going to see unique places, immersing myself in different cultures, and opening my eyes to how the rest of the world lives.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I think the Jacksonville Jaguars will win the Superbowl in the next five years! I don’t think anyone agrees with me, but Trevor Lawrence will be the MVP. It’s probably going to happen, and you’re the first to hear it!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Yes, probably the biggest thing I’ve learned and had to work on over the years is to take time with my big and small decisions. Cognitive bias is one of the hardest things to realize about yourself. I understand that my mood and emotional state can affect how I see an opportunity. Especially when you’re managing other people, you might shoot something down because you don’t see “it” immediately. But the truth is, you don’t have all the information. So it’s essential to take time with different ideas and avoid the “shiny-object syndrome.” You tend to get excited about new things, but you have to let it sit there for a while, marinate and see in a week whether the idea is still something you’d like to pursue.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I shared this strategy with my team. There are three areas for growth.
The first area, which is organic growth, requires a systematic approach. I was skeptical about it, but I wanted to test it. So we started reaching out to prospects on LinkedIn to see whether it would work for sales and logistics. I didn’t think it would work out. We manually vetted and established around 600 connections per month. Some people accepted, and some I messaged and followed up. This approach wasn’t spam but personalized and manually curated. It was about starting a conversation. So that’s level 1 for sales.
Level 2 for sales is when you start hiring people. The people you’ll be hiring already have existing relationships, so you can grow in this manner. Level 3 is what we have just accomplished: acquiring another company and its current customers. The idea is that you cannot have great salespeople if you don’t have revenue already. Subsequently, you cannot afford to acquire companies if you’re not growing already.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One of my biggest failures is also one of the essential educational tools I possess. In 2016, I tried to launch a similar automation platform (like the one Fox Logistics acquired) since I intuitively knew the importance of such tools. Instead, we tried a piecemeal approach and hired freelancers to put something together since we didn’t have the means to go all out. Overall, we lost about $60,000 over a year—just about our entire net profit since we were still a small company. As a result, the venture never took off.
But after the turn of events, I joined a coding boot camp and started to learn how to code. More importantly, I started learning how web applications function, which has allowed me to have much more productive conversations with developers and given me the confidence to know what I am talking about. In addition, a better understanding of architecture has allowed us to be much more successful.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Digital real estate. I’m not talking about building houses in the metaverse, which might be a thing one day. It’s about building and scaling websites. I have a fair marketing background, so if I were starting today, I would probably start focusing on building websites. The revenue generally comes from advertising and affiliate marketing. What’s fascinating is that these things are selling for 30x to 36x their monthly revenues. I’m not saying it’s easy, but all the information you need to do this is already available on the web now!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently bought Tee Ball equipment for my two sons. We have been going out on Saturday mornings to practice in a field. It feels like a “dad” thing to go out and play sports with your kids. It has been an enjoyable experience since they’ve also never played before.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
There is a tool that isn’t so widely used but will be soon. It’s called Shelly. It’s the engine that runs our automation software Boxton. Here’s how it works: It lives in your inbox. It parses incoming information and sends it to the relevant systems. Say we receive an invoice that would have required someone to input the info previously manually. Shelly parses the information and matches it with the system to reconcile whether the charges align with the quotation. We receive alerts if there are discrepancies, but if everything is fine, the workflow is automated – we never touch anything.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Predictable Success by Les McKeown! I have read the book multiple times and have never come across another such work that so accurately describes our own “journey.” It is the journey of every company that grows, the pitfalls to look out for, along with avoiding plateauing on the journey to success. So, if you’re trying to grow a company, this is probably the first book I would recommend reading.
What is your favorite quote?
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” It’s an overused phrase but not understood as much! People, leaders, and companies want to bring about so much change but are unwilling to change their actions. Try new things, test them out and be thorough in bringing about the change you wish to see! We’re all guilty of this and need to be more aware.
- Establish a daily routine and schedule that works in your favor. Then, iterate and discover which tasks to tackle at what point during the day and how to minimize distractions – meetings, technology – to achieve more.
- Prioritize practicing deliberate minimalism in all realms of your life. Practicing “Inbox Zero” is one such method. Minimalism ensures you’re ready to respond to changes and not constrained by unnecessary weight.
- Explore as much as possible. Do as many jobs as you possibly can. Explore your passion, and find what you’re good at. Moreover, travel extensively and immerse yourself in different cultures. This approach will provide you with diverse viewpoints.
- Accept that you may possess “cognitive bias.” But, then, let time take its course. Make decisions with a well-rounded perspective, and don’t commit yourself to every new “shiny” idea.
- Avoid being stubborn. Be open to change, try new things, test their viability, and be thorough in bringing about the desired outcomes.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.