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February 15, 2017 11:00 AM, EST
Q&A With Truckstop.com CEO Paris Cole
The Company's Beginning, Freight Matching and Expansion
Paris Cole, CEO of Truckstop.com

Since Scott Moscrip founded Internet Truckstop in his basement 22 years ago, the company that became Truckstop.com has grown quietly. Its lack of heraldry is partially deliberate, CEO Paris Cole says, but toiling in little New Plymouth, Idaho, a town of 1,513, doesn’t draw much attention, either.

Truckstop.com connects truckers with up to half a million loads of freight each day with an average value of $1,200. With more than 300 employees spread among its New Plymouth headquarters and offices in Chicago, Phoenix, Toronto and now Boise, it is growing.

The Boise office opened in January on the fifth floor of the Stevens-Henager College building, overlooking Interstate 84. That suits Cole, 41, who lives in Middleton and commutes to Boise twice a week and spends the rest of his time in New Plymouth. His window overlooks the freeway.

“I like to look out and see our customers,” he says.

Q: How did the company first gain traction?

A: Scott had a few customers when he started the company in 1995, but business hadn’t taken off until he attended an industry trade show. He was one of two people on a panel. They gave Scott 10 minutes to speak and the other individual 50 minutes. All the questions went to the other individual.

At the end of the session, somebody asked about this Internet Truckstop. The gentleman who responded said he’d only used Internet Truckstop for a short time, but business had since increased 10%. That was it. Scott says people were literally helping him carry his computer to his car after the trade show. After that, it spread by word of mouth. Today, we are the largest freight marketplace in North America.

Q: Did Moscrip come from a trucking background?

A: No. His background is in development. He worked for the government for most of his career. He did work for a freight broker for around two weeks when he was in college, but that was it for his transportation experience.

Q: How did he strike upon the idea for Internet Truckstop?

A: Scott was driving an old car back from California for his dad. It had an eight-track player but no eight tracks. He’s bored out of his mind, driving through the middle of the Nevada desert. He saw a trailer with the words, “Loads anywhere. Call [and then a phone number].” He thought, “That’s the stupidest thing ever. No one is going to have a pen and paper handy to write down that number, and there’s not many people driving through the Nevada desert. There’s got to be better ways to do it.”

He started writing down ideas on scraps of paper and receipts for this idea — of putting information out on the internet. It spawned from there.

Q: You graduated from Caldwell High School and studied accounting at Idaho State University. What path led you to Truckstop.com?

A: I worked at accounting firm Deloitte and Touche here in Boise for nearly five years. Then I worked at commercial real estate investment firm DBSI for four years. At Deloitte, I’d audited the major hospitals in the state. I decided to get back into health care after I was let go at DBSI. I joined Cochlear Americas in Denver, which makes cochlear implants.

I loved it, and I honestly never thought I’d come back to Idaho. Scott Moscrip came out to visit me and asked if I knew anybody interested in being [chief financial officer] at Internet Truckstop. I didn’t really know Scott or the company, but the company was interesting, and I joined in May 2013. I served as CFO until Scott stepped down as CEO in December 2015 and asked me to step in.

Q: How much of the company’s success stems from Moscrip being ahead of the internet curve?

A: Freight matching didn’t start with Scott. That had been around at least 20 years. In 1995, truck drivers would go to a truck stop. There’d be a TV monitor listing loads and phone numbers. That’s part of the reason why Scott named the company Internet Truckstop.

Q: The company expanded geographically with offices in Phoenix, Illinois, Boise and buying a company in Toronto, all in the past 18 months. What’s the strategy there?

A: Scott’s from New Plymouth. He was even the mayor there for a short period. We have been and probably will always be dedicated to that community. But finding the right talent is difficult in New Plymouth. For a few different reasons, we chose to move our development team to Chicago. Our sales team leadership is based in Phoenix. We have the office here where we have our inside sales and marketing teams. We picked Phoenix and Chicago because of their deep transportation and logistics expertise.

Q: What percentage of your employees support the tech side of the business?

A: Probably about 60 of the 314.

Q: What’s the ownership structure?

A: Scott Moscrip is the majority owner. In April 2016, we brought on a growth private-equity investor called Bregal Sagemount, based in New York. They have a minority ownership.

Q: Moscrip is now chairman. What’s his day-to-day involvement?

A: His unofficial title is “chief innovation officer.” He still comes to work every day. He has six monitors at his office in New Plymouth. He comes up with new ideas. He has a room, and it’s wall-to-wall white boards. We’re at about 60 ideas he thinks could be products. That’s what he does all day.

Q: What’s the future for the Boise office?

A: Our goal is to fill this office. We have 45 professionals here and room for more than 100. We think we’ll fill that and, if everything goes right, we’ll gobble up more office space as well. A large number of [open jobs] are posted.

Q: What are the limitations of growing in a rural area like New Plymouth?

A: Attracting talent. If we could attract enough talent in New Plymouth, I think we’d only have one office. Unfortunately, we just can’t.

Q: How is the company paid?

A: We are subscription-based. Quite a bit of the freight that moves in this country is through freight brokers, not the actual shipper or manufacturer. Freight brokers pay a monthly fee to post loads on our site. Truck drivers also pay a subscription.

Q: You don’t come from either a trucking or a tech background. Do you ever chuckle that you run a trucking-based technology company?

A: I do. It’s not lost on me at all. But my background serves well in this position, my time in health care in particular. It’s an industry that’s heavily regulated and slow to adopt technology, just like transportation. There are factors in both industries that are forcing and demanding for technology to make business more efficient.