As we push into the midway of Women’s History Month, don’t expect the businesses we highlight (or the women we feature!) to be any less compelling. Continuing the second tenet of the mantra “Here’s to strong women – may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them,” let us highlight another business that small business owners can aspire to be like. It is our honor to highlight Kristin Wallace, the President, and Founder of Atlantic Freight LLC.
Atlantic Freight LLC is a freight company in Boston, MA that exclusively hauls loads for Amazon. Moving those crates and boxes filled with Amazon goods, however, isn’t the only heavy lifting happening at this Back Bay freight company. President and Founder, Kristin Wallace, is both lifting the veil on male-dominated freight stigmas and uplifting opportunities for women everywhere through her hard work and dedication. Wallace is a business owner with several years’ experience in fields from logistics, finance, marketing, real estate, transportation, business development (among several other fields!).
“I think women in Freight is pretty unique, even more so a woman-owned freight company,” Wallace explained. “I became a small business owner because I have always wanted to be my own boss. I enjoy the uniqueness that comes with each day when you own your own company. I also wanted my daughters to see that women can do anything!”
Atlantic Freight LLC has been in operation since May 2021, meaning that the business kicked off during one of the high peaks of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think there are the typical obstacles to starting a business that everyone faces, but I also started a business during a pandemic while working from home with two small kids…one who is severely immunocompromised. So, that definitely added a layer of complexity to the launch of this company.”
Wallace worked tirelessly to bring her company into working order and did so while balancing family life. “I regularly have to take her for doctors’ visits, infusions, labs, etc. so that can be a challenge. I also wanted to be extremely careful about bringing home anything, especially Covid, so I did most of my interviews remotely, which was not always ideal.”
Amazon, being one of the major fulfillment companies consumers relied on during lockdown, partnered with more regional freight companies across the planet in 2021; and Wallace’s company proved their mettle; Her company quickly became a major load hauler for Amazon. Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, Wallace diligently built out a fleet of trucks and drivers fit for the job of not only delivering loads but breaking stigmas as well. “I also think that there was an initial challenge to recruiting drivers to come and work for me as a new start-up in this industry that is typically male-dominated.”
A New Kind of Freight
The hard and cold stigmas that taint the greater freight and shipping industry don’t just alienate the women in the field; they also often disenfranchise the drivers and workers who work tirelessly to deliver payloads. The picture classically drawn of a “freight company” or a “freight driver” is often skewed a bit too far “macho” than what is true to reality. While we tend to think of those drivers and workers as rugged “Clint Eastwood-type” folks who don’t need breaks, Wallace acted doubly hard to dispel this stigma. “My drivers tell me that working with us is completely different from other freight companies, and that is a good thing! They tell us they feel like a person rather than a number…and that is the feeling I am going for. Whether it is putting cookies in the trucks for the holidays or a note to tell them to have a safe day, we try to make our company a place where our drivers want to come to work each day.”
The Road Ahead
Wallace’s new world of freight is urgent and quick; it doesn’t hurt having the largest fulfillment company in North America as your sole client. While the pandemic may be receding, internal Amazon reports indicate commerce will expand over the next decade on the service. The only roadblock that could slow down Wallace and Atlantic Freight, then, is not seating their trucks with drivers fast enough. Even despite Wallace’s modern, personal approach to freight, her company has not been spared by the employment shortage felt across nearly every industry in North America. “The labor shortages have made recruiting drivers more difficult. We really have to make ourselves unique and stand out to attract talent.” This, however, hasn’t slowed down Wallace’s can-do attitude: “We have to work extra hard with recruiting and devote a lot of time and follow up to bringing on candidates, but it is worth it to build a great team.”
Be the Change, Be the Freight
Women’s History Month is both a time to recognize the women who have made history, while also using it as a space for recognizing those women who are making history. Kristin Wallace and Atlantic Freight LLC are a touchstone of modern business perseverance, sensibility, and humanity. Wallace is a business owner we can all take inspiration from. As the world continues to connect and intertwine in more intricate ways, companies like Atlantic Freight and the leaders who create them – like Wallace – should be remembered not only as those who won over a market space, but also as individuals who made that space better through innovations – both human and logistic.