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Keep on trucking: Greenwich’s XPO Logistics sees no limit to growth

July 30, 2017 GMT

Greenwich-based XPO Logistics’ billionaire chief executive Bradley Jacobs has founded and run several businesses from his longtime home of Greenwich, but his latest venture is proving to be the biggest.

In late 2011, he took over Express-1 Expedited Solutions and renamed it XPO Logistics. Within six years and with the help of numerous acquisitions, the global transportation logistics business has edged into Fortune 500’s annual ranking of biggest companies by total annual revenue and been named the top third-party logistics provider in North America.

After Fortune ranked XPO as the fastest-growing company last year, it climbed more than 160 spots and slotted itself between WestRock and Aramark to rank as the 191st largest company in 2017 with nearly $15 billion in revenue. It’s collection of accolades gathered over the last few years also includes the title of Fortune’s fastest-growing transportation company, one of Forbes’ top 500 best American employers and most innovative growth companies.

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That last one represents the fruits of investing approximately $425 million annually in technology, Jacobs said, and it’s something the chief executive likes to tout as a crucial aspect of his company’s continued success. “Technological innovation. That’s what drives us,” he said last week in an interview.

XPO’s growth extends beyond numbers on paper. The roughly 60 employees who occupy its Greenwich headquarters outgrew its former offices at Greenwich Office Park, Jacobs said, so he moved them to glassy new offices located in Greenwich American Centre in February, where they now reside amid more than 100 acres of woods on the outskirts of Greenwich, a minute drive from the Connecticut-New York border.

Visitors drive over a bridge that puts a four-story structure housing Blue Sky Animation Studio and financial groups on their right and a sloping green hill on their left before encountering a low-lying structure that serves as XPO offices for Jacobs and some financial, human resources, marketing and legal staffing, according to Matthew Schmidt, XPO’s director of public relations.

The new location offers cheaper rent and is convenient for its employees who commute from around the tri-state area and for global executives who convene there for Quarterly Leadership summits, according to Jacobs.

Hungry for growth?

During one such summit last week, around 20 XPO executives gathered along a pale wood conference table to review its second-quarter results. Seated together at the head, Jacobs and his chief operating officer Troy Cooper led the meeting that followed XPO’s recent announcement to publicly offer 11 million shares of common stock, which sent its stock price swinging. The move forecasts a “renewed acquisition appetite,” according to Moody’s.

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In the last few years, it’s been XPO’s choice of acquisitions that spurred its growth and landed it amid the world’s biggest brands, Cooper said. “We’ve had 17 acquisitions in the period of six years, and they have all been leaders in their sector,” he said. “Then we do what we can to enhance what they do great already.”

This strategy depicts XPO’s “adaptive and agile” character, Cooper said of the company that, according to it latest numbers provided by Schmidt, employs 89,000 people around the world, including almost 400 in Connecticut.

XPO may cover a lot of ground with its breadth of services, but Jacobs explains its central purpose simply. “We help retailers and manufacturers move their goods through the supply chain as fast as possible,” he said. From boats sailing with goods from China that are transferred to trains in Chicago and land on a truck in Kansas, “we do all that,” Jacobs said.

And when it comes to sending those good back to where they came from, in instances like returning unwanted merchandise, “we’re a leader in reverse logistics,” he said.

But where XPO’s strengths are most evident, he said, are in its last-mile delivery of heavy goods. “We’re seven time the size of the next biggest player,” he said.

‘Creating a buzz’

Looking ahead, the higher rungs of Fortune’s largest companies list appear in reach for XPO, given Jacobs’ outlook on its growth opportunities. “We’re growing by the growth of ecommerce,” he said, adding he plans to add more customers as well as expand the services current customers use.

“We’re still relatively young in this space,” Cooper said, “and we’re creating a buzz in the industry.”

In the wake of Connecticut losing the likes of General Electric and Aetna to neighboring states, Jacobs said he doesn’t have plans to abandon the Nutmeg State anytime soon. Citing Greenwich’s suburban appeal combined with closeness to Wall Street investors and bustling Manhattan transportation, the Connecticut enclave retains its appeal for Bradley, he said. Plus, he’s called Greenwich home since 1990.

“The taxes have gone up in Connecticut since I first started out here,” he said regarding a reason many business leaders have used to explain their departure, “but you can’t let taxes determine major decisions. That’s like the tail wagging the dog, right?”

Contact the writer at mbennett@greenwichtime.com; Twitter @Macaela_

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