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Delivering success Featured

10:10am EDT August 30, 2005
Renee Kauffman, president of Quick/CPS Delivery Systems, does not fit the profile of a typical shipping executive — she earned a double master’s degree in art history and painting from Northwestern University.

She got a job with the freight distributor as an administrative assistant while still attending law school at The Ohio State University and quickly rose through the ranks to become president. In an industry dominated by men, many were initially surprised when they asked to speak to the boss and were greeted by a female voice. But over the years, more women have entered the field, and Kauffman has made it a point to serve as a mentor.

Since she assumed the role of president, annual sales at Quick/CPS have risen to nearly $13 million.

Smart Business spoke with Kauffman about a typical day and how the business has changed since she got into it.

How did you get started in the shipping industry?

I went to law school after being married and having two kids. At the end of my second year in law school, I went to work in the summer for this company.

I started as an administrative assistant in 1980 and graduated from law school in 1981 from Ohio State. I became president within a couple of years, and have stayed with the company ever since.

What is a typical day for you?

There is no such thing, but I usually start each day with e-mails. I handle strategy, administration, finance for the company, and every day is completely different. We have five facilities, so each day varies.

What differentiates Quick/CPS Delivery Systems from other freight distributors?

We are what’s called a pool distributor, so our niche is that we have national accounts that have a couple of hundred stores in our region. We get the freight in store order for them.

It comes into us in trailers that are loaded in no order, just everything in our area. Then we unload the trucks, put the different boxes by store number on skids, shrink wrap those skids and then deliver within a two-hour window the next day to the store.

We are their labor-intensive arm. So it’s very different from the normal freight company, who would pick up one box from you and deliver it somewhere else.

How has the shipping business has changed over the past few years?

No. 1, it’s becoming more demanding, and there is more measurement of everything. We measure everything we do for accuracy and on-time delivery. That means getting the shipment to the right place at the right time with the right number of boxes.

We expect 99.5 percent accuracy, and we expect above 95 percent on-time delivery. Sometimes you have flooding or roads closed, and we cover a pretty wide area. Everything is measured that we do, which was not the case previously.

It allows us to have much higher quality.

How do you manage the growth of your company?

We believe in restrained growth. Right now, we are building two new facilities in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. We’re constantly growing in a steady way, and continue to be profitable.

How do you see Quick/CPS Delivery Systems evolving over the next five years?

I think we are going to do the same thing, which is continue our steady growth and look for customers that fit into our system that we can do excellent work for.

What qualities do you look for when hiring?

We don’t look for anything different than any other company looks for. We look for loyalty, integrity, hard-working and honest employees.

As the female president of a shipping company, have you faced resistance within the shipping circles?

When I first got in the business, customers would call, they would always ask to talk to my boss, even though I was already president of the company. They had the mindset that if a woman was on the phone, they must be a lower-ranking employee.

Now, the mindsets have changed and I believe that women in the industry are accepted. As a matter of fact, I’ve been a mentor to women. My vice president of operations in Columbus is a woman and my CFO is a woman. In Cleveland, my head of terminal affairs is a woman.

How to reach: Quick/CPS Delivery Systems, (614) 492-0000