Angelica Garcia-Dunn: From Rock Bottom to Ruling the Road

Angelica Garcia-Dunn's personal life took a terrible hit. Instead of becoming bitter or giving up, she decided to shake up the Texas freight industry.

Read related article, This Resilient Entrepreneur Built a $20 Million Business After Painful Misfortune.

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Angelica Garcia-Dunn – CEO and Founder – AIM Global Logistics

Angelica Garcia-Dunn (AG): When you’re sitting at the table and you’re eating at a restaurant and, “How did that fork get here? How did this desk get here? How did this chair get here? How did this shirt get here?” There’s all kinds of things that we all need that where we need a truck, where we need ocean, where we need air, where we need rail and it just fascinates me.

CARD: Angelica Garcia-Dunn CEO + Founder – AIM Global Logistics, Houston, TX USA

SOT AG: When are those motors gonna come in?

AG: At AIM Global Logistics, we actually move from a pound to over a million pounds and everything in between whether it’s via truck, ocean, air, rail, and we also offer warehousing. And our specialty is everything over dimensional, heavy haul, so the big and ugly. We love doing that.

AG: As a little girl going down, traveling from Houston, to Mexico, I loved seeing the trucks and I loved like having the truck drivers pull their horn, and my uncle, my family comes from trucking as well.

CARD: Angelica’s family is originally from Mexico.

AG: I actually have dual citizenship so I am Mexican and then I’m also American. But growing up my first language was Spanish. I didn’t learn English until uh probably first grade.

SOT AG: [Speaking in Spanish]
SOT: [Speaking in Spanish]

AG: I started working as a very young child to help support the family. Selling lemonade and snow cones in front of the-, in the front yard, you know, helping sell the tamales, and the tacos, and whatever it took to bring in extra money.

CARD: In 1997 Angelica completed her MBA at the University of Dallas and went into banking.

CARD: She also got married.
CARD: After her second child was born, she stopped working.

CARD: But in 2002 her marriage collapsed.

AG: When my husband left it was a really—sorry if I get emotional—but… um, so I mean I, I remember my kids were young and they said um we went to the grocery store and we had we had a basket of groceries and I didn’t walk out with them. My card didn’t go through. My, my daughter goes, “Mommy, why didn’t we bring our food?” Oh, I go, “The card didn’t work. We just have to go home and get another card.” That wasn’t the case. So my kids at four and two, you know we’ve been through a lot.

CARD: Angelica found a job in the freight industry.

CARD: By 2009 she felt ready to start AIM Global Logistics - a certified minority, woman-owned company.

AG: It’s a matter of proving yourself. And I got certified in 2009 and it’s now 2016 and I barely just got my first contract last year with a big, with a big first-tier oil and gas company was last year. So, it takes a while.

CARD: Over the years, AIM has worked mostly with the oil industry, transporting storage tanks and equipment.

AG: Imagine a, uh moving a rig from Oklahoma, 70 trucks to the Port of Houston, and to move a rig you have to have the cranes, the pull trucks, the tandem trucks, and then you have to order the permits and escorts. It comes to Houston, you have to hire a crating company to do all the crating. Then you have to hire the ship. Then it takes three days to get to Mexico, then in Mexico you have to have all your trucks lined up to unload the ship and the cranes. And then you take it to site in Mexico to drill, then you have to rig up. So it’s A to B and everything in the middle.

CARD: With such massive projects, cash flow is a constant challenge.

SOT AG: What was the rate that they gave us from Abilene? And then the base drop one?

AG: Whether you’re selling a tamale for 50 cents or whether you are selling a rig for 5 million it’s all cash flow. You still have payroll, you still have rent. About two years ago we had a customer in Mexico that didn’t pay and we really, really went through some hard times.

AG: If I can’t pay in 30 days, you know, call ‘em weekly, call ‘em monthly. There was one carrier that it took me six months to pay. And I gave ‘em their last check. I went in person and gave them their last check and they sent me flowers. So yeah, I’m not always a 30-day payer, um, but I do pay, uh, even if it takes six months.

CARD: In 2015 AIM had $15 million in revenues.

CARD: But the downturn in the oil industry made it her toughest year yet.

AG: Even before, you know, the drop in prices I started going into let’s look at government projects. So we started looking at solar power. We started looking at wind, so not just oil and gas. So we had to start diversifying our, not only our clients, but our industries.

CARD: Angelica has expanded the AIM Group of companies into equipment leasing, chemical sourcing and financing.

AG: Every day’s a different monster. One day I’m moving schoolbooks and another I’m moving, you know, some 400,000 pound piece, or a generator, or a turbine. So just everything that is entailed in moving just one piece all the way to final destination I think it’s amazing.

Posted: September 30, 2016

Nusha Balyan at The Story ExchangeAngelica Garcia-Dunn: From Rock Bottom to Ruling the Road