Born into a U.S. Army family, Bob Thompson grew up in different states, and lived abroad in Korea and Germany. Eventually, his parents settled in Seattle, and Bob went to college in Washington. In his senior year, he landed a job at a logistics company in Portland, and after learning the ropes, he moved to a fast-growing logistics brokerage.
“I worked in the second job for five years, and by then I was keen to progress, so I talked to the boss about buying some equity. He leaned back in his chair and said he didn’t lose any sleep about my paycheck, and that’s the way it would stay!”
After such a curt rejection, Bob knew it was time for a change.
He started looking for business partners to co-found their own brokerage to serve the Pacific Northwest, and met Dick Fink and Ed Kropp. On Dec 3rd 1990, General Transportation Services was born.
“Everyone thought we were crazy. It was Christmas-tree season in Oregon, the U.S. was in recession, and the First Gulf War had just started. But we ignored the naysayers and never looked back.”
They worked hard at the start-up, and developed a reputation for excellent customer service in a highly fragmented industry. Importantly, they always paid on time, and had a perfect credit rating.
“We were hungry and wanted to challenge,” Bob recalls. “We did really crazy and creative projects.”