FSB alums focused on constantly building a better company

Matt Pyatt and Eric Dunigan

by Jay Murdock, University Communications and Marketing

Back before they created Arrive Logistics, Matt Pyatt and Eric Dunigan were two newly-minted Miami/Farmer School graduates working at a different logistics company, rooming together, carpooling together, having lunch together, and wondering what they might do next.

“We'd point to a business, we'd point to a building and say, ‘Someone owns that, right? Somebody started that business. What do they know that we don't know?’ So we had a lot of confidence and also, at a young age, a threshold for risk, and ultimately, we decided to go for it,” Dunigan recalled.

Now, the freight brokerage the two started in 2014 is doing around $1 billion a year in sales, and looking to expand – a lot. “We've got offices in Austin and Chicago now,” Pyatt said. “but we've got a lot of rapid expansion that we're super excited about in the coming years.”

In an auditorium full of Farmer School students who will soon be looking for internships and first jobs, Pyatt and Dunigan talked about how they’ve grown Arrive Logistics. “We've really figured out how to make those investments, how to hire the right people, how to train them to be super successful in their job, and how to build the best technology in the industry,” Pyatt said.

“We want to hire the right person. We just don't want to hire anyone. We are the most relentless company. When you come inside of our walls, everyone wants to win. And I know you have probably heard things like ‘the relentless pursuit of perfection,’ and really, what it's basically saying is every single day, we're trying to be better and better and better,” Pyatt said. “We have really high expectations and that's a really good environment for some people.”

Arrive has won several “Best Place to Work” awards over the last few years, and that’s important to Dunigan and Pyatt. “These are by far the most important awards to us, because they're voted on by our employees. And I think it really just speaks to the alignment between us and the team,” Dunigan remarked. “The No. 1 thing they like is their peer relationships. The No.2 thing is their relationships with their managers. So culture is everything.”

“One of the things that drives me the most is we want to have 5,000 employees that can make a career. They can have families, they can send their kids to college, they can go on nice vacations. That's super fulfilling to me,” Pyatt noted when talking about Arrive’s employee compensation. “The earning opportunities in this industry are endless because of the size of the industry. There are a lot of sales jobs out there that have a limited customer base. But for us, there's 150,000 customers that ship products, there's 500,000 carriers that need to move their equipment. So getting in the door with those, we haven't even scratched the surface.”

A lot of their success, the pair said, comes down to relationships. “The day we quit our jobs, I got a phone call from Interstate Batteries, which was one of my big accounts. And he said, ‘I got your email that you're no longer there. I'd love for you to move to Dallas and start a brokerage for us.’ And I said, ‘Well, that's funny because I'm moving to Austin to start a brokerage.’ He said, ‘Well, when you start, call me and I'll be one of your first customers.’ And still to this day, by volume and certainly by length, they are still one of our top accounts,” Dunigan recalled.

Dunigan and Pyatt gave the students five pieces of advice for their futures:

  • Learn everything you can about technology. “If you’re starting a business, you’ve got to be able to do a little bit of everything because you're not going to have the financials to hire the specialized roles until you get to scale. So first of all, I would definitely take technology classes, know how to build a website, managing phone systems, managing the internet, managing routers, all of that stuff is extremely valuable.”
  • Practice persuasive communication. “In small groups, you have to be able to sell. At the end of the day, whether you're selling transportation to a customer or you're selling a recruit as an entrepreneur, you're constantly selling your vision on why they need to join your company.”
  • Build up your professional network. “Do internships, reach out to people on LinkedIn, lean on your professors, do whatever you can, because that can obviously open up those doors for future opportunities.”
  • Seek out jobs that provide best-in-class training for your long-term goals. “If you intend to innovate in an existing, established industry, get internships in those industries. Learn them, sit by the people that are super successful. Ask them a lot of questions. That's what Eric and I did. We basically were getting our masters and our PhD in logistics when we were working at our first jobs.”
  • Take as many business classes as possible, even as electives. ‘If you don't understand balance sheets and P&Ls and cash flows and cap tables and all those other things, take those classes in college so that you understand and have some familiarity. Not everyone has that opportunity to get a private equity job or an investment banking job out of college where you're going to learn all those important things.”

And for the students who are interning or taking jobs with Arrive Logistics now or in the future, Dunigan and Pyatt said the company will work hard to help them become better workers and stay around. “I spend more time thinking about retaining people than anything else. More time dealing with my board. Retention is my No.1 focus right now,” Pyatt said. “The No. 1 focus of Arrive Logistics is retaining our people because we know that productivity per person, based on how long they've been at the company, is exponential. So us losing people early in their career is a huge detriment to the growth of our company.”

"We just obsess about every single little detail, every single week, and really are focusing on how we can build the best company that we can."