VOYAGE MAGAZINE ARTICLE - CASHFREIGHT.COM - KIRK HARRIS
Today we’d like to introduce you to Kirk Harris, Owner Cashfreight.com
Kirk, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I grew up on a farm in Richfield, Utah. We grew alfalfa, wheat, corn and had some cows, pigs, and chickens. When I was 10 years old, my Dad decided to switch from traditional farming to becoming a turf farmer. He planted 20 acres of sod with an old grain drill. What he lacked in experience, he more than made up for in faith and determination. That was in the fall of 1977 and in 1978, he harvested our very first crop of sod with a walk behind hand cutter. My brothers and I would follow along behind rolling and stacking the pieces of sod on a pallet. That was the beginning of my entrepreneurial roots, my willingness to work hard, and to step outside the box and try new things. Fast forward to 1991. The sod business, Willowwood Turf, had grown enough to allow my father to retire and I became a partner. In March of 2007 Willowwood Turf acquired All American Sod and the two companies merged. Today, the farm does business as All American Sod, but the parent company remains Willowwood Turf.
As an owner of Willowwood Turf, I also became an owner of several semi-trucks used to haul the sod in the summer months. The challenge to provide our drivers with year-round employment led us to seek out loads from other shippers during the winter months. My understanding of the trucking industry grew as I worked with other shippers, and I recognized the need for improvement in the way business was conducted between shippers and carriers. Miscommunication, unanticipated fees, and lack of prompt payment are just some of the problems that seem to plague those who work together in the transportation industry. As the internet grew, and everything became more automated, I came up with an idea of how to address these problems.
In 2008, I found a flier for a Southern Utah “Concept to Company” contest. I wondered if my idea would be a good one, so I entered the contest. I won and was awarded a $5000 prize from the contest and a matching $5000 prize from my county. With the excitement generated from winning the contest and my prize money, I went to work to make my idea into reality. I had never tackled software design, but with the help of some outside sources,
I was able to roll out my first database and website. As with any new business, I quickly learned that I did not have the massive amount of clientele needed to launch my revolutionary new automated load board called Easyloadpro.com DBA Cashfreight.com. I attempted to build the clientele needed, but with the limited resources I had, easyloadpro.com did not take off. I continued to build my clientele through the more traditional/manual processes and began brokering loads just like everyone else.
In the years that followed, I was plagued with a downturn in the economy, a partnership split, a massive flood, and a drought. Each challenge took away from my limited resources and I was not able to get my exciting new business into production.
In 2019 my situation improved somewhat, and I was able to work on the business more. I totally rebuilt the database with many new and exciting improvements. We redesigned, patented, trademarked, and rolled out the new website/database/load board as Cashfreight.com in beta test mode in November of 2021.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I already owned two businesses (Farm and Trucking Company) by the time I started easyloadpro.com. Farming is never easy, and the trucking industry is tough when you don’t have a large fleet of trucks. We struggle yearly with seasonal cash flow, droughts, floods, family corporate structure, weeds, equipment breakdowns, driver and employee shortages, etc. Each of these challenges are ongoing and are common to the agricultural industry.
The challenges that I have faced that have been extraordinary have been defining moments and have helped me to gain perspective and strength along the way. One of those challenges was in the year 2000. I was hauling hay down Marysvale Canyon and just beyond Big Rock Candy Mountain, a cross wind coming thro
ugh the canyon caught the back trailer on the double trailer load that I was hauling. The load was stacked 3 high (3/4 ton bales), which made my high profile load a target for the wind. The rear trailer overturned, which made the front trailer overturn and then the cab rolled with it. I slid for about 100 yards and rolled back on to the wheels before coming to a stop.
al deep lacerations on my face and head. My teeth had to be wired individually back in place, and a plate and 5 screws held my jaw together while it healed. The nerves that were damaged caused my right eye to turn toward my nose giving me double vision for nine months. I suffered hearing loss that was partially restored after 6 months. I have 80% hearing in one ear and 20% in the other, so if you add those together, I am 100%! The hearing loss cannot be fixed with hearing aids, so that is a permanent challenge. I also have permanent facial paralysis, but I have been
able to negotiate the struggles associated with that very well. This accident gave me a new perspective on life.
My faith was strengthened, and I recognized the need for creating and maintaining good relationships with others. This spurred on my desire to create a better way for shippers and carriers to work together in the transportation industry.
Another major challenge occurred in 2008 when the economy suffered a major downturn. The housing (and therefore landscaping) industry was hit hard. Our sod business was not prepared for the major losses that we faced. We had to restructure our debt and by 2013, we were also faced with restructuring our company. The partnership split, and I was left fighting to keep my businesses alive. I spent 3 years working solely to keep going day to day. Each day seemed like a new challenge, and I had to take one day at a time to be able to hurdle the obstacles that needed to be faced. It was a long three years, but I was able to recognize that daily hard work and keeping commitments are key to success. My faith was again strengthened, and it renewed my desire to continue to improve the online database/software business.
In 2018, Richfield was hit with an unexpectedly large flash flood that not only flooded our farm, but also the neighboring farms, freeway, homes and businesses. We typically have at least one flash flood a year. When it rains hard on the mountain behind our farm, we get flooded. Over the years, we have taken measures to improve the flooding situation and to keep it under control.
We felt the most prepared we had ever been. Nevertheless, we were hit with the largest flash flood that had been recorded in over 100 years. It flooded over the freeway and into the neighboring city. It caused about two million dollars in damage to our farm and business. Crop insurance for sod is not a feasible option, so we had to weather the loss on our own. However, my family, good friends, neighbors, community members, and even my competitors banded together to support me. There were many helping hands working together to clean up the mud, debris, and rocks that all came down with the flood. Within one month we were able to clean up, work down, and plant 70 acres of sod and another 100 acres was finished shortly after that. We still had to wait a year for the sod to grow up and be mature enough to harvest, so I was faced with how to keep my business going in the meantime. I had prayed, I had worked, and I had been given the help and support of a great community of people surrounding me. The rest was in the Lord’s hands. I received a phone call from one of my competitors asking what they could do to help. I jokingly said, “You have any extra sod you want to sell me?” He answered in all seriousness, “Let me see what I can do.” That friend and competitor sold me enough sod to keep my business going for a month while we cleaned up the mess. I was inspired by my friend and decided that maybe some of my other competitors might have extra sod they would be willing to sell. I began making phone calls and inquiring about sod availability. By divine design, another competitor not only had extra sod, but he was struggling in his business as well. He had plenty of sod, but his last employee had just given his two weeks’ notice. Within two weeks, he would be left with plenty of sod to sell, but no employees to help him harvest and transport the sod. We were a perfect fit! I had plenty of employees, but no sod to sell. We made a deal to cut and deliver sod for BOTH companies and in the end, we were both able to remain in business. I learned from this challenge to never underestimate the power of God, service, friendship, and kindness.
As a side note, the rocks and gravel that the “one-hundred-year flood” brought down the canyon inspired me to create a whole new business venture as well. We had piles and piles of gravel, rock, and organic debris after cleaning up the mess. In past years, when the flash floods have brought down the rocks and gravel, we have been able to have a neighboring business remove them and use them in their operation. However, that neighbor was also flooded and had plenty of gravel to remove themselves. So, to reuse and recycle, I started a whole new business that is a companion business to the sod farm/landscaping industry. Super Soil USA was born out of necessity and has allowed us to deliver topsoil, compost, gravel, boulders, and decorative rock to the same customer base that buys sod. We have an endless supply of gravel and rock. Having an outlet to distribute it has been beneficial. Our compost pile consists of green matter brought to us by members of our community who are cleaning up their yards and want to dispose of branches, limbs, grass clippings, etc. We allow them free access to dispose of any green material. We grind the material and add our own grass and organic waste to it and allow it to decompose over time. It is an expansion of what we were already doing and helps us to give back and to improve our community.
The pandemic in 2020 proved to be a challenge in a different sort of way. Most companies were forced to shut down or to scale back in some way, shape, or form. Since everyone was at home working in their yards, our businesses benefited from record sales! We were so busy that the challenge was making time for growing our now rebranded Cashfreight.com business. Things have leveled out and we have been able to use some of the capitol gained during that time to invest in Cashfreight.com. Balancing each of the businesses will always be a challenge, especially when the farming business demands so much time and attention during the spring, summer, and fall. This remains the current challenge today. Cashfreight.com is a passion and requires more time and resources to be successful. Farming is a legacy and provides me and my family with the kind of life we want to live. Balance is a challenge.
Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Cashfreight.com has MANY things that set it apart from other freight load boards that are currently online. I am going to highlight the top four.
Cashfreight.com allows the user to post and browse available loads for FREE! Currently, carriers search load boards, Facebook, emails, and broker lists. They make phone calls and look anywhere else possible to find loads to haul. We want to simplify that process and provide a place for one stop FREE load shopping. Most load boards require a fee just to LOOK at them. Our system is completely FREE to post and look at. The fact that our database is free is what makes it a true national database. Other databases are limited to only those willing to pay the monthly fees.
Cashfreight.com saves TIME and even MORE MONEY by automating the negotiation process. The shipper enters the commodity they would like to have hauled. Cashfreight.com automatically fills all the required load information figured with algorithms based on prior loads for that commodity/product. Shippers can accept or override any piece of information like rate or delivery times and enter their own acceptable rate and time. When a carrier is looking to contract a load, they can clearly see and input all the information needed to successfully haul the load. This eliminates the time calling back and forth between carriers and brokers and negotiations are handled by our patented OfferUp OfferDown or LoadItNow processes. The load can be contracted COMPLETELY online. Shippers can negotiate the best price to get the load hauled, and carriers can OfferUp if they feel the load is priced too low.
Automation of the documentation, payment, and dispute processes. I realized over the years how paperwork can slow down progress, and delay payments. The freight industry like other businesses cannot operate without getting required documentation and paid quickly. Carriers have to keep drivers paid, fuel in the tank, and tires on the road. Cashfreight.com takes the 30 to 90 day time delay and effort out of paperwork. Our patented LoadBook Process automatically collects information, produces documents, and sends those documents to everyone in the delivery chain. LoadBook keeps everyone informed, saving more time and money. Our PowerPay system also speeds up payments.
Our patented PowerNegotiator process allows users to view all load details. Other systems limit the load details to price, trailer type, pick-up and drop-off locations, and broker phone number. Cashfreight.com allows users to also view safety requirements, loading and unloading requirements, necessary permits, pick-up and drop-off times, and everything else that is required to haul the load. PowerNegotiator allows the carrier to be fully aware of all costs and limitations prior to contracting the load. Cashfreight.com provides an available checklist for shippers/carriers to be sure they have thought of everything. Listing ALL load requirements online reduces communication time between the broker and the carrier and helps reduce any communication errors.
We want our readers to know that this system will help simplify their businesses. Anyone producing a bulk product that needs to be transported to another location will be able to benefit from Cashfreight.com. Anyone moving products will also be able to benefit from Cashfreight.com and know they are going to get paid immediately.
What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
Never give up!!
Start working on your goal, keep at it, and you will find a way!
Overcoming hardships will make you stronger!