Business Plan Challenge

Trucking company plan salutes veterans

Ransom Everglades senior, Zander Futernick, 2nd place winner in the Miami Herald's Business Plan High School Challenge, proposed a business plan called USAVT that would employ unemployed veterans.
Ransom Everglades senior, Zander Futernick, 2nd place winner in the Miami Herald's Business Plan High School Challenge, proposed a business plan called USAVT that would employ unemployed veterans. Miami Herald Staff

Many military veterans aren’t able to find jobs after their service ends, but Ransom Everglades senior Zander Futernick sees a solution that could boost veteran employment.

Futernick, who came in second place in the Business Plan Challenge, wants to combat veteran unemployment by starting a trucking company that employs only veterans, which he believes would be a mutually beneficial union.

USA Veteran Transportation (USAVT) would build off the concept of social entrepreneurship, where companies try to make money in a way that simultaneously tackles social issues. The job opportunities would benefit unemployed veterans and in doing so the company could gain a favorable reputation.

“There hasn’t been any significant innovation in the trucking industry,” said Futernick, 18. “A lot of its potential has to do with adding a unique PR twist by hiring veterans, and that brings a new type of customer to trucking.”

Futernick, whose family owns Smith Cargo in Miami, came up with the idea with other students while at a summer high school program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania last summer. He has since enhanced their initial plan.

For veterans, the company would offer a position that would require a skill-set related to their service.

“Servicemen and servicewomen are both trained to withstand long hours of solitude and to be self disciplined,” Futernick said. “In the driving world, long hours moving freight down America’s highways can become a rather lonely profession. Military men and women have proved to be exceptional employees when it comes to being reliable and consistent drivers.”

In turn, hiring veterans would allow the company to offer services at a more competitive price than other shipping companies, because they may already have the certification necessary and already have health insurance.

USAVT would give a portion of the proceeds to charities that raise awareness and support veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Its humanitarian image would benefit their partners, who Futernick says could advertise their partnership and attract patriotic and mindful customers.

“Businesses will know that for the same price, you can hire us knowing that we can bring you customers that care about veterans,” said Futernick.

For example, Futernick says, if USAVT were to partner with Red Bull, the trucks would display both companies’ logos.

“There are some customers in the country who will see that and then will automatically place a higher value towards Red Bull, and that is a significant advantage,” said Futernick, who has been running his own nonprofit since 2012 called TechKnow Start, which provides computer labs at shelters and community spaces.

Futernick, who heads to NYU’s Stern School of Business in the fall, anticipates a successful marriage between the two proud vocations, because of their shared lack of frills.

“Trucking is not a sexy industry,” Futernick said. “It is not glamorous and neither is being in the Army.”

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