LGT Transport Woman Shines in Non-traditional Role 2/10/17 02/10/17 10:08:24 AM
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Pam Spaccarotella credits the Air Force with learning “how to follow first before you could lead.”
Woman Shines in Non-traditional Role
As Founder of Omaha Trucking Company
By Elizabeth Elliott
The Daily Record
A desire for job security, the chance to be her own boss, and a background that provides a strong foundation led Pam Spaccarotella to found LGT Transport, LLC in 2012.
Spaccarotella acknowledged that it is a very male-oriented industry. Finding financial backing was difficult, she said, but it was a female banker who took a chance on the company.
“You try different avenues to get where you want to be,” she said. “I first started with a business plan for 15 trucks. Some banks were interested but the underwriters weren’t.”
She eventually downsized her plan from 15 trucks to five and found support from a bank that was recognized for SBA loans.
“I knew I could do it if I could just get the door to open.”
LGT Transport now has more than 70 trucks on the road nationwide.
Two years later, the company boasted 40 trucks and offices in four states. Revenues more than doubled and net income quadrupled from 2013 to 2014.
Spaccarotella attributes the rapid growth of the company to the many things they do well.
“Relationships and the manner in which we conduct business stands out,” she said.
A customer recently noted that LGT is willing to be innovative, according to Spaccarotella. The company focuses on teamwork and is hands-on with its truckers.
“Most of my drivers have been doing the same thing for 30 years,” she said. “We always had a teamwork type of culture and many trucking companies have animosity between drivers and management.”
“We know their wives names and children and ask about their grandchildren,” she added. “We make it personal.”
The company’s values embrace five areas:
• Integrity: “Whether people know it or not, we strive to do the right thing always – even behind closed doors.”
• Teamwork: “We all work together towards a common goal. No hidden agendas allowed.”
• Safety: “We pledge to live by a superior safety standard. Safety first, safety always.”
• Simplicity: “We make it easy to do business with us. We get it right the first time.”
• Solutions: “Clients look to us for solutions, never excuses, which is why we’re proactive and make it a point to always follow up.”
LGT Transport specializes in nationwide transportation of industrial gases. The company started with five trailers and has grown to more than 70 trailers that include self-contained steel cryogenic, aluminum nitrogen, aluminum argon and carbon dioxide.
They also deliver helium and hydrogen, which is used in various industries including aerospace and aircraft, transportation equipment, diving, electronics, healthcare, refining and more. Carbon dioxide is delivered to food and industrial markets, as well as advanced oil refinery. The drivers are qualified to haul cylinders, as well.
Owner-operators are based out of Omaha, Neb.; Baytown, Texas; Toledo, Ohio; Jackson, Tenn.; and Rio Vista, Calif.
Spaccarotella not only has a background in accounting and law, but also the military.
She was nominated to the Air Force Academy by U.S. Representative Barry M. Coldwater, Jr. in 1981.
“My parents couldn’t afford to send me to anything but the local state college and the AFA was one of the top universities in the country,” she said. She chose Soviet Area studies as her major, graduating in 1985. She served five years active duty, then in the Air National Guard and finally, in the reserves.
“I was a Communications Officer and Missile Launch Officer, and flew on the Strategic Air Command Airborne Command Post at Offutt Air Force Base. I left because there were limitations with what I could do in the Air Force. Only certain career fields were open to women,” she said.
“What I remember most about the Air Force was that you had to learn how to follow first before you could lead. That, and your success comes from the team, not the individual,” Spaccarotella said.
She had earned her MBA in finance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln by the time she left the Air Force, but “didn’t want to go into defense contracting, which is what most officers did when they leave the service. One of the officers I flew with got me interested in law school.”
So, she enrolled in law school at the University of Southern Maine, where she earned her J.D. Asked why she didn’t pursue a career in the legal field, she said it was pragmatic. “Public accounting paid more than law firms.”
Spaccarotella said she learned leadership and management from the Air Force Academy.
“I lead by example,” she said. “I wouldn’t ask something I wouldn’t be willing to do myself.”
She did find that her legal skills translated into a business career. “The degree is worth everything,” she said. “I can read contracts, negotiate deals, write proposals and advocate.”
Likewise, her accounting background helps her know how to make a profit, decide where the company is making and losing money, and how to make the necessary changes, Spaccarotella said. “It definitely positions you in a way you can manage and grow business.”
Beginning in 2000, she started gaining experience in the trucking business, first as president of Cryogenic Transportation, Inc.; then as co-owner and president of GENOX Transportation in Texas; and finally, as associate vice president at Werner Enterprises in Omaha. In 2009, she was hired by former Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle as the city’s finance director. She served there until 2012, when she started LGT.
Why trucking? “I started having accounting clients who were trucking companies. Then I landed my first job when I left public accounting at a trucking company.”
Since you said you wouldn’t ask anyone to do what you haven’t done, can we assume you can drive a truck, we asked. “Well, no, I can’t. It’s the one thing I never learned and never want to learn. It’s a tough life and truck drivers have my utmost respect for what they do.”
In 2015, LGT Transport was named Small Business Congressional District Two Small Business of the Year. The company is certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and is also a self-certified small business and veteran-owned business.
Spaccarotella said being certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise helps her customers. “They have multiple government contracts and when they subcontract with a Women’s Business Enterprise, they report those numbers to them,” she said.
When she’s not running her business, she stays busy keeping up with her family. “I have three kids – Brittany, who is 25, lives in New York City and works for the Discovery Channel; Christian, who is 23, lives in Lincoln and works for Crete Carrier as a dispatcher; and 20-year-old Josh attends UNL and works part-time for LGT in the safety department.
She said she would like to be more involved with the networking and support group for women entrepreneurs started by Cella Quinn and similar organizations. “It’s the one thing I wish I had more time for.”
If she has any spare time left, Spaccarotella tries to spend it enjoying outdoor activities like kayaking and traveling to national parks. She said she visited the Dominican Republic last year and this year she hopes to use her familiarity with the country from her Air Force Academy days to take a trip to Russia.
LGT Transport celebrated its 5th anniversary on February 9. For more information, visit www.lgttransport.com.
– Additional reporting by Lorraine Boyd