What: Logistics transportation management company
Who: Anthony Caruso of CSA Group
Where: Marlton, New Jersey
When: Started in 1998
Startup Costs: $500
After working in sales for FedEx, which involved relocating every few years, Anthony Caruso, 40, wanted to settle down with his wife and their then-newborn son. "I wanted to grow an income and a business without having to move anymore," Caruso says. So in 1998, he started CSA Group, a shipping logistics company that helps its clients find the best shipping carriers for the right price.
Starting out of his home office, Caruso ordered business cards and created an 800 number that was answered at his brother's local trucking company. Using his connections with FedEx, he was able to get competitive rates for his clients. And through his friend Dan Distaso, who now works with Caruso, he gained customers in the apparel industry. "That's why 95 percent of what we do now is in apparel," he says.
When he moved out of his home office in 1999, Caruso found a virtual executive center that not only provided him with office space, but also with business services and employees. Instead of having to hire a full-time staff, Caruso relies on the office center's available workers. He says it helps keep his operation small, allowing him to maintain close relationships with his clients, most of whom are midtier businesses without the luxury of having their own shipping and logistics departments. "Our main thing is that we are completely accessible," Caruso says. The intimate relationships with small businesses are what give CSA Group an edge on bigger competitors--and what pushed sales to $4.4 million in 2006.