Taking on the Impossible
Tracy Pellerin is an impressive leader – born in 1964 on a farm in New Iberia, LA, Tracy learned quickly to make his own way in the world. He began working at 13 years old, planting sugar cane in a nearby farm. After serving time in the United States Air Force, Tracy started Apex Freight Services in 2006 with the goal of building a company with a special niche; desperate to find customers, Tracy began asking (“begging, really,” he says) for the problem freight that no one else wanted. As business grew rapidly, this freight became Apex’s mission statement: “Taking On The Impossible”.
Tracy enrolled in Think Shift's L3: Leadership = Leverage + Legacy workshop in January of 2012.
During the intense, three-day workshop, Dr. Balaji Krishnamurthy challenged Tracy to analyze his current leadership style and become very intentional about the direction he wanted to take Apex – how was he going to grow the company? What did he want to accomplish, and how should he accomplish it?
After leaving L3, Tracy sent his entire executive team through the program, wanting each of them to become more intentional. But even then, he wanted to continue growing Apex. He wanted his culture to become as intentionally-focused as his leadership.
From April of 2013 through August of 2014, Apex retained Think Shift’s services as they undertook our most comprehensive offering, “Aligning Brand and Culture.”
Aligning Brand and Culture helped Apex create and enforce an intentional culture by targeting specific behaviors that will scale well as Apex continues to grow, diagnosing the cultural factors that kept Apex from growing and providing a structured framework for addressing those behaviors over a year-long period.
The process was difficult, but Apex’s culture now fosters and contains a plethora of life experiences and personalities, all empowered to bring their own flavor to Apex and its customers. Creating this atmosphere required a lot of open communication and mutual respect.
“To fight to keep someone who doesn't fit into our culture,” Tracy says, “is counterproductive to what I am trying to build. It's like trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole. This was hard to realize. We – I – need to be okay when someone leaves us because the cultural fit isn't right for them. We should celebrate it as an opportunity to find the people who do want to be a part of our great company.
I must say that I have been overwhelmed by everyone's support and the commitment to what we are building. Those of you who come to work with the intent to truly be part of the solution drives me to become better everyday.”
Apex’s culture continues to grow and develop. Throughout the challenges, Tracy continues to be rewarded with emails like this:
Tracy, I once gave you a very honest answer about what I thought of the effects of Intentional Culture. At the time, I’d said that the common thought was that it was a “happy ideal”.
Yesterday, Dana and Casey asked for 4 volunteers to show up early today, to help cover the build-up. As it happens, I had to catch a ride with one of the volunteers to work, so I ended up showing up early as well. I’m not sure of the exact count, but... nearly half the Ops Floor showed up early. Maybe not for 06:30, but certainly 20+ minutes earlier than their respective normal shifts. I count 7 people, not including the East Penn team.
I think the Apex fire is catching.