When Ron Shoemaker, founder and president of vehicle remarketing company Flexco Fleet Services, saw there was a need for the company to offer brick and mortar sites for physical sales, he did what he has done throughout his career: adapt. The result was eFleet Direct, an e-commerce remarketing company with physical locations in major U.S. metropolitan markets.
Adapting to Thrive
This is only one example of how adapting to the needs of his company and his customers has helped Shoemaker keep Flexco a thriving remarketing company. The business recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Before he started the company in 1992, Shoemaker worked for a dealer in Columbus, Ohio, for about seven years.
He went out on his own in 1992, obtaining a $10,000 line of credit, and incorporating Fleet Lease Exchange Company d.b.a. Flexco Fleet Services. He did everything by himself for the first eight years, buying vehicles from companies and dealerships and reselling them to other car dealers in and around Columbus. Flexco Fleet Services has evolved from the $10,000 line of credit in 1992 to about $110 million in sales among the company’s various businesses.
Those early days were hectic. “I was running my own titles,” Shoemaker recalled. “By the time I hired my first employee, I was remarketing 600 cars a year.”
Transporting vehicles was a challenge in the beginning. He used independent transporters then and still does today.
Shoemaker established the business slowly, and he believes that’s a big reason for his success. “I took my time building my business, so I was able to pick the best people,” he said. “I have been very blessed with hiring exceptionally talented people much smarter than I am.”
To get larger companies as customers, he hired a team of IT and service management experts. Responding to customer requests about 10 years ago, he put his IT people to work launching an online employee sales site.
Another request from customers about four years ago led Shoemaker and Tim Janssen to form Innovative Funding Services (IFS).
“IFS is our finance and service protection company,” Shoemaker said. “When IFS launched, it specialized in financing employee vehicle or end-of-term lease purchases. Today, IFS can assist any person with their vehicle financing needs for purchasing or refinancing from the comfort of their home.”
However, there was an unintended consequence of the spinoffs from the core business, which Shoemaker and his team solved with their characteristic flexibility.
“About two years ago, it dawned on us that we had duplication in several areas,” Shoemaker said. “So, we formed Hourglass Management Corporation.” Hourglass takes care of operational issues, such as IT, marketing, and human resources to accommodate Flexco’s fast-growing business needs.
Hourglass also develops new products supported by its various companies, including Flexco, IFS, eFleet Direct, and the recently launched ZoomWarehouse Online Vehicle Auction. Hourglass is run by Shoemaker’s son, Chad, who is in line to take over the entire business someday.
While there are other successful businesses that have spun off from the original company, Flexco continues to remain the company’s anchor. “Our core business is remarketing which includes several proprietary employee sales websites,” Shoemaker said. “Flexco has provided us the opportunity to expand our services and add companies within our industry.”
If a customer needs a new service, Shoemaker just might start another company to meet that need. He said his company will continue developing products and services to adapt to a changing market. “A major part of our business continuity plan is staying current with marketing, technology, and finding solutions for ever-evolving customer needs.”