Small Business Owner Says Mind Your Fleet

When you’re working in your office and your business depends upon your drivers carrying out their jobs efficiently, exactly how can you be sure they’re meeting your expectations? John M. Cunningham Jr., founder of Vehicle Tracking Solutions, has the solution that will allow you to run your delivery or sales fleet at its full potential and better serve your customers.

Starting out six years ago as a reseller of AVL (Automatic Vehicle Location) systems, VTS’s business has since boomed with a series of ever more innovative and technologically advanced products. In 2004, the company launched its signature product, FleetMinder®, a real-time GPS management system. With installation of FleetMinder® on a vehicle, management can track latitude, longitude, heading, and speed and engine idle status using one of twenty-four Department of Defense satellites. Additionally, managers can see if vehicles are exceeding speed limits, entering unauthorized areas or being driven during off hours. The end result is a
more efficient and tightly managed delivery fleet.

VTS now tracks more than 11,000 vehicles, 24/7, for over 750 clents in 32 states with local customers including the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County Water Authority, World Courier, U.S. Limousine Service LTD, and Island Pump and Tank. The company has grown by double digits over the last four years operating from offices in New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Connecticut, Florida and Texas.

Originally from Long Island’s Nassau County, Cunningham always had a knack for computer technology. When he graduated high school in the early 1990s, he went right to work as an independent agent for PageNet. In 1996 he opened a retail store and was a "dealer" for AT&T. He then joined Verizon Wirele ss as a business-to-business sales executive. Cunningham knew he had a natural talent for sales, and upon discovering the world of AVL systems in 2001, realized he could merge his two talents to create a successful future. “These days I couldn’t imagine being in another business,” said Cunningham.

But to get his business to the next level he needed some help. Most sales people are accustomed to hearing the word “no,” but Cunningham did not expect to hear that every time he applied for a loan to grow his business. After exhausting all his loan possibilities with traditional lenders, he visited with Irving Borman, a business counselor at the Long Island Development Corporation. They developed a loan package that landed Cunningham a $900,000 loan from Progressive Credit Union that was guarantied by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The loan enabled Cunningham to purchase and renovate his Deer Park, LI office, as well as provide employment for a staff of twenty, five of whom are on-the-road technicians.

Cunningham lauded the assistance he received from the feds and his local business networking center. “When I had trouble getting a loan it was the SBA and LIDC that helped me bring my business to the next level.” For other aspiring entrepreneurs striving to get to the next level, Cunningham advised, “Stay determined and map out your goals. No matter what yo ur business is, help customers justify their costs. In return, this justifies your value.”

-by DeAnn Misilmeri