Magnus CEO Matt Cartwright: On Leadership in Logistics
Matt Cartwright is the CEO and Founder of Magnus Technologies. As a 25-year veteran of the transportation and logistics industry, he has focused his work on building technology to address the market’s antiquated client/server architectures that failed to meet the needs of today’s modern complicated and evolving business demands for trucking companies. Originally from Arkansas, Matt served as a NCO in the United States Marine Corp and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas. He lives with his family in Austin, TX.
Matt shares how his background has prepared him to be a successful leader in the trucking and logistics industry.
How has your background prepared you to be CEO of Magnus?
My first logistics job was with UPS as an industrial engineer on the operations team. It was there where I began to really understand the value of measurable and replicable processes. This is essential for global operations where you can’t leave things ad hoc. It needs to be pretty organized and processes have to happen the same way. You’ve got time in transit that’s very exact. If I say a package needs to go overnight from New York City to LA, I can’t figure that out on the fly. We had to have defined routes. You also had to have defined assets to ship 20, 30, or 40 million packages a day. Everything has to have a strong process that you can replicate as well as be defined. That was my first job in logistics and shipping.
Next, I went to work for United Road. They were a roll up of around 68 or so companies. How they rolled up was the owner became the manager of that business when they were rolled into the United Road. Everybody did things differently and it was the exact opposite of what UPS was where every little detail was planned out. There were no uniforms, they weren’t trained to put their keys on their pinky finger, they didn’t count the number of steps to a front door and all that kind of fun stuff. But, what it did have was more entrepreneurial spirit.
What I realized is that entrepreneurial spirit allows you to break from a defined process and maybe do things better. It also allows you to do things worse, but it doesn’t constrain your thoughts. Realizing the value of creative thought, as well as being able to move quickly in a way that you realize is good, was kind of the opposite of what I was used to. I came from “we’ve got to make sure that we’re doing things in the right way.” But it’s important to think about things differently if you’ve been doing them a certain way for 10 years and ask: “are there different things that we could do right now? What’s possible? What’s the world of the attainable, or obtainable?” Then use both of those ideas: have a little bit of free-for-all entrepreneurial spirit as one guideline as well as a strict and rigid, almost militaristic process as the other guideline. Then, move a little bit laterally in between those two to find the optimal reality for the business.
Technology for Business Processes
Another thing I took away from working at both companies was they use technology differently, and they hadn’t figured out how to use it to support their business processes. Technology by itself can be a force multiplier for good or a force multiplier for bad. If you have a bad process and you support it with great technology, then it’s going to make the impact worse. The same thing is true if you have a really good process and you have bad technology, you’ll degrade the efficiency of that process with your inflexible technology.
A Simple Solution
I used all of this experience to help build Magnus. I took my deep understanding of the process and layered in a new perspective on how to get things done. When we were starting to build and roll out the first generation of our solution, everybody had a different opinion, and everybody viewed the industry needs and solutions from their point of view. And that’s OK, because ultimately everyone wants to do the same thing, which is to create a great product that’s easy for customers to use. From my vantage point, being able to take these different perspectives and create a common language was very important as we built our solution. It was also important to have our customers understand why we did the things we did. We didn’t use jargon and created a simple solution that helps everyone in the industry.