Probably the single most important thing to understand about Fuel is how all-important personal relationships are to founder Rob Piccioni.
Piccioni has built a very successful logistics company in a highly competitive industry, because he cares most about how Fuel treats its employees and how those employees treat Fuel’s customers.
“The success we’ve enjoyed the past few years has been driven by our people and relationships,” says Piccioni. “If I didn’t have these people I wouldn’t have anything.” That people-first philosophy is an unusual one for the industry. But it’s what has guided Piccioni from day one, and it infuses all parts of the Fuel culture and shapes almost every move they make as a company. “I want us to make human decisions before we make business decisions,” he says.
That means when a call comes in with what might seem like a difficult request, Piccioni wants his team to remember there is a human on the other end of the line with their own personal challenges just trying to do their job. Fuel staff should think, first and foremost, about helping that person solve that problem. “We want to be known as a good company that does honorable things and is not motivated just by short-term financial gain,” he says. And that’s an extraordinary thing in transport and logistics today, because the industry is dominated by short-term thinking. Fuel, on the other hand, is going in the opposite direction, striving for long-term relationships with clients to become a trusted strategic partner that adds value to the business of every client and produces a better, more efficient supply chain.
“The way we will do that is by investing in our people, giving them the tools and demonstrating the behaviors that we believe define modern logistics professionalism,” says Piccioni. That word—professionalism—hasn’t often been used to describe the industry, but Piccioni insists upon it for Fuel. “There are big companies that rely on us to move their freight,” he says. “We want our employees to come in, work hard, be professionals and take very seriously that mission to be better.”
The strategy has been very effective. Fuel is winning new business and growing quickly with recruiters working full time to find the people who can thrive within Fuel’s culture and drive future growth.
Because Fuel is so different and the vision so unique, Piccioni prefers to hire people who have no experience with other logistics firms. Instead, Fuel’s recruiters focus more on fit and look for qualities like tenacity and resiliency. A freight brokerage is a high-pressure environment and since trucks are moving across the continent quite literally 24/7, Fuel is always open for business and operations staff are always on call.
It is demanding, but those willing to take on the challenge, who will work hard and embrace the Fuel way of doing things, become part of a team that is unlike any other in the industry, says Fuel’s director of operations Peter Perrella. “Working here is more of a lifestyle than a job,” he says. “We treat each other like friends and family rather than coworkers.” In that kind of environment, management shows up early with everyone else, everyone hustles hard all week to answer every client request, and still employees go golfing together most weekends. “Everyone just looks out for everyone else,” says Perrella. “I’ve seen us ready to head home late on Friday when someone gets an urgent call from a client. Everyone will turn around, take their coats off and sit back down and look for ways to solve the problem. Nobody on this team wants to leave anyone behind. That’s just how we live at Fuel.”