Nickell Robey maximizing his business profile
Chris Brown Bills Insider
Nickell Robey has made the most of his NFL opportunity after he was signed as an undrafted rookie by Buffalo. Now he is doing the same with his start up trucking business
From the day he began playing football Nickell Robey has always had to maximize his skills to play a game dominated by bigger players. Anticipation, study and technique are the main tenets the nickel cornerback has relied upon to play on the NFL level. Still young in his pro football career, Robey is again making use of those same principles to grow and expand his burgeoning trucking business.
The CEO of Maximize Enterprises LLC, Robey has successfully ventured into the trucking industry, a field his family has been a part of for generations.
“My grandad was in it for 35 years,” said Robey. “My mom managed for 15 years. My aunt has been in it for 15 years. All my uncles they drove trucks for over 15 years. My dad drove trucks for 10 years. So if you combine all that I had at least 70 years of experience to draw upon before I even came into the business.”
Based in Orlando, Florida, Robey’s trucking company mainly moves produce loads in the southeast.
“I move mainly agriculture, produce and frozen foods,” he said. “We might get produce that needs to be refrigerated or dry goods. We may have watermelons or corn, milk, water. There are other products that have to stay refrigerated.”
Robey launched his trucking company just last year with just one truck on the road. He spent his first year in the business making connections and building relationships with some big corporations, thanks in part to his family’s strong ties to the industry.
“This past offseason I built a lot of good relationships with a lot of different companies and brokers who can put me on loads,” said Robey. “My dad, my uncle, my grandad, they’d make calls for me. One would say, ‘Hey I’ve got a nephew with this company. He can help you with a job load.’ So I had built-in connections. They would get me loaded and it took off from there.”
Now the Bills cornerback is in the process of putting a second truck on the road in year two.
“It’s getting there,” Robey said. “We’re slowly expanding. Business is going real well.”
After just a year in the business Robey has learned a lot. Much like he plans to outmaneuver a receiver for an oncoming pass, Robey took action when he saw the opportunity to be more profitable.
The trucking industry, like most others, has a middle man called a broker who completes deals between corporations that need goods shipped and the trucking companies that make the deliveries. The broker, who finalizes the agreements is paid by both parties.
Robey saw an opportunity to save money for his fledgling company. He went and got a broker’s license himself.
“When you brokering loads you basically have your own authority to go to these multi-million dollar companies and call them and ask them what their load orders look like in terms of how many loads they have,” he explained. “They can’t give you every single load they’ve got, so they might give you 200 loads to manage depending on how many trucks you’ve got. They just give it to you and it’s up to you to sort it out.
“The ones that you can’t deliver yourself you can distribute to other trucking companies as a broker. You can allocate it like you want. So you outsource it to other logistics companies.”
Brokering his own deals, Robey not only kept his truck constantly on the road, but got paid for the loads he provided to other trucking companies looking for product to deliver.
Robey also learned that having strong insurance helps your profit margin. The better your coverage the more likely a company or major corporation is to do business with you.
“I’ve got the best insurance you can have,” he said. “I have a $3 million policy so if anything happens we can cover it. That’s what corporations look for. So I work with Coca-Cola, Tropicana. It helps give you an opportunity. They might start you off with 50 loads and see how trustworthy you are. See if you can transport and ship on time. Once you prove you can do it they’ll start filling you up and working with you regularly.”
Knowing they’re the lifeblood of the company, the money Robey’s company saves by being his own broker he passes on to his drivers.
“I give them 25 percent on in-state loads, and 40 cents on the mile on out-of-state loads,” Robey said. “That’s better than any trailer company that’s driving right now. I did my research and big time companies give you 35 to 37 cents per mile on a load.”
When his football career has him working in Buffalo, Robey checks in with his trucking office twice a day with his control manager.
“Her name is Holly. As soon as I leave here I call her and ask her what happened today,” he said. “She’ll update me. It could be the truck needs tires… anything. I just sign off on stuff. She’ll send me an email and I’ll print it, sign it and fax it over. She’ll work on all the logistics and if she needs help or approval she’ll call me.”
With a solid reputation already established Robey believes his company will continue to grow, but he’s mindful of getting too big, too fast. Truck number two will be on the road soon doubling his delivery capabilities. His long range plan is to have a fleet of trucks.
“One hundred,” he said. “I want to have 100 trucks moving on the road on a day-to-day basis. That’s my vision over 15 to 20 years. That’s what I have in mind.”
No one thought an undrafted 5-8, 165-pound cornerback could make it in the NFL. Robey quickly proved the doubters wrong and established himself as a reliable slot corner. He’s now developing that same reliable reputation when it comes to moving product.
Juggling his NFL career while running a business might run the risk of maximizing his time and abilities. But that’s the way Robey has always approached things.
Named in honor of his late mother Maxine, Maximize Enterprises is a tribute not only Robey’s mom, but his mantra.
“In naming my company I said, ‘Let’s maximize everything.’ Maximize life, maximize this opportunity.”