Dwight Moore | The Challenges of Amazon Reverse Logistics

Episode Summary

In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Dwight Moore, CEO of TradePort, a leading eCommerce discusses Amazon reverse logistics and shares his life's journey into eCommerce. 

 

As an e-commerce business owner, you may have a company that offers particular products to consumers. As you know, one of the main pain points on your year-end balance sheet might be your returned stock. Stock that you have sitting in a warehouse somewhere losing value by the day. Yoni Mazor of PrimeTalk discusses the concept of reverse logistics and how it can be done in a way that is more environmentally friendly in order to protect our planet for generations to come.

 

In today’s episode, PrimeTalk has teamed up with Dwight Moore, the CEO of Tradeport, an innovative company that offers a multitude of services to its customers such as asset recovery, third-party logistics, consumer electronics test and repair, manufacturer warranty negotiation, internet marketing, and resale, and reverse logistics support. Their expertise is in what they refer to as “Reverse Synergistics” because they provide synergy to their partners to deliver excellence.

 

Dwight Moore talks today about his incredible journey from aerospace manufacturing to being bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. So if you’re an e-commerce business owner with an interest in improving your ROIs, then this episode is for you!

 

Visit TradePort for more information.

 

Learn about GETIDA's Amazon FBA reimbursement solutions.

 

Find the Full Transcript Below

Yoni Mazor 0:06

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to another PrimeTalk episode. Today I'm really excited to have a special guest. I'm having Dwight Moore. He's the CEO of Tradeport, which is a leading e-commerce reverse logistics company. He's going to share with us more about it, but Dwight, welcome to the show!

 

Dwight Moore 0:23

Good morning.

 

Yoni Mazor 0:25

Good morning. Good morning. How's everything?

 

Dwight Moore 0:28

Everything's great. Thank you.

 

Yoni Mazor 0:31

Thank you for coming. Thank you for your time. So you're based out of, correct me if I'm wrong, in New Hampshire?

 

Dwight Moore 0:36

Yes, our facility is in Dover, New Hampshire, right over the border from Massachusetts.

 

Yoni Mazor 0:41

Beautiful, I hope to come to visit as soon as possible. I hear many great things about Tradeport. And we actually work together. So it's fun to work with your team. But today's episode is really gonna be all about you. It's gonna be the story of Dwight Moore. And you're going to share with us you know, your background, who you are, where you're from, where'd you grow up? Where do you go to school? How did you begin your professional career? And we're going to walk station by station until we get to nowadays. So without further ado, let's jump right into it.

 

Dwight Moore 1:09

Okay, okay. So yeah, today I am CEO of Tradeport, but I'm also president of a small private equity company called Echelon Partners. Echelon Partners owns Tradeport as one of the portfolio holdings. But about me, I grew up in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, in a great little town, right on the water, Narragansett Bay.

 

Yoni Mazor 1:39

Narragansett Bay. Narragansett is really nice. Okay.

 

Dwight Moore 1:44

Narragansett. Yep, great little place to grow up, a great school system, grew up sailing. My dad was a big-time sailor so learned that at an early age, got really into sports and athletics through the different programs there. And had a great upbringing there in Rhode Island, but moved away when I was 18 essentially when I went to college (bad connection) and undergraduate degree at USC.

 

Yoni Mazor 2:18

Sorry, what’d you say? We got cut off a little bit, cut off. So where did you go to school? Which college?

 

Dwight Moore 2:22

There I went to  (bad connection) in Schenectady, New York.

 

Yoni Mazor 2:29

One more time, there in New York, what was the name of it? The connection isn’t great. Union? 

 

Dwight Moore 2:36

Oh, sorry. Union College.

 

Yoni Mazor 2:37

Oh, yeah. Union College in New York. Got it.

 

Dwight Moore 2:39

Yeah, yeah. One of the reasons I ended up there was that my grandfather was the mayor of Schenectady. And both parents on both sides grew up in Schenectady, New York. So it was kind of a natural place to go. So I ended up at Union, went through an engineering curriculum there. Graduated with a mechanical engineering undergraduate degree.

 

Yoni Mazor 3:08

If I may ask, what year did you graduate?

 

Dwight Moore 3:11

Yep. 1984. 

 

Yoni Mazor 3:15

Oh nice, that’s the year I was born, full disclosure.

 

Dwight Moore 3:19

Good. Yeah. So it's interesting. Yeah. How do you get started, you know, in, in your career, and for me, you know, what I did is I attended those interviews that you do on campus, and I ended up connecting with this one guy, that was really, that we just kind of hit it off. And, you know, prior to meeting this guy, I was being recruited into the nuclear navy to be a captain of a submarine. And, and I was kind of heading in that direction. But I ended up meeting this other guy. And, he convinced me to join General Electric. GE, at the time, had this or in which in some ways, just like being in the military. The way it worked is they may give you six-month assignments over a two-year period at different locations, and they basically throw you into all of these different manufacturing assignments to get to know the General Electric Company as quickly as possible.

 

Yoni Mazor 4:29

Okay, so you started GE, I think you mentioned that you essentially started working in Florida, you moved to Florida?

 

Dwight Moore 4:36

Yeah. Prior to that I was at an aircraft instruments department where we were making different products that went to the cockpits of both military and commercial airplanes. And another facility, it was called Drive Systems Operations, and we made anything from tabletop PLC systems to control rooms for sawmills and things like that.

 

Yoni Mazor 5:03

So what was your component? You were actually designing the product? Or you're refining it?  What was your, your components?

 

Dwight Moore 5:09

Well, GE had a, you know, fully vertically integrated program. So, you know, we basically did all the design, development, you know, all the fabrication. My role in those years again, was in this manufacturing area, to learn all the aspects of World Class manufacturing concepts. And you're right, when you're at GE, you were either number one or number two, you know, in that industry, or, you know, Jack had these, there was a Venn diagram, three, three circles, and, and if you were within those circles, you're okay, but you know, if you found your business unit outside the circle at anytime you knew you're going to be sold off shortly. 

 

Yoni Mazor 5:55

So you guys know, you got...it was such a structure where you, everybody has visibility in your performance and in the circles, and if you know, if you're staying away, it's just a matter of time until General Electric will, you know, release that company away?

 

Dwight Moore 6:07

Yeah, and both at the business level, and at the individual level, you know, Jack was a believer, you know, in both and, you know, we as employees were also graded. And, you know, you probably read in the book that if you are graded in the lower, you know, 10% each year, you were let go. So, we as program members were typically designated high potentials within the company, and we really had access to some really great opportunities within the company. So, you know, I like I said, it was very, very difficult. Not only was the job difficult, the expectations were high, but during this program, they loaded you up with a lot of extracurricular work, and you would be faced with the simulations of real-life experiences. So, it was probably one of the best training experiences that anyone could, could go through.

 

Yoni Mazor 7:04

Yeah, an unbelievable opportunity for you straight out of college. So how long did you stay in GE? Wow. So in 1984 to 92?

 

Dwight Moore 7:14

Yeah, yeah. And then after that, I was at that time I was in middle management, with GE, kind of progressing the ranks. And there was a decision point that I had to make. And I had an opportunity to go work for a company called Martin Marietta. And during my stint at Martin Marietta...

 

Yoni Mazor 7:36

If you could share a little bit about this company. Well, what do you guys do or what you guys did?

 

Dwight Moore 7:41

Yeah. Martin Marietta was also an aerospace company. It was soon after I arrived, it was acquired by Lockheed. So Lockheed Martin. So I ended up working at Lockheed Martin for another few years. Again, in various aspects of

 

Yoni Mazor 7:59

So when you got in in 1992, Lockheed Martin bought it right away or took a few years? What was the progression?

 

Dwight Moore 8:04

It was about...I'm trying to recall it so long ago, probably about two years in Lockheed’s...

 

Yoni Mazor 8:12

So around 1994. Do you know why? What was the trigger for them to buy it out?

 

Dwight Moore 8:16

Well, there was a lot of consolidation in the aerospace industry as a whole. So it wasn't just isolated to Lockheed and Martin Marietta.

 

Yoni Mazor 8:24

And what was triggering that in the aerospace industry, as far as you can recall?

 

Dwight Moore 8:28

Well, there's a lot of competitive pressures around the world and in the aerospace industry, you know, it's really down to, you know, Boeing and Aerospace, you know, as the two majors and you know, back in those days, you know, that's really what was happening, and they were trying to consolidate the supply base to get efficiencies of scale, that kind of thing.

 

Yoni Mazor 8:49

Got it. So 1996 you're officially wearing the Lockheed Martin badge. And what was your experience there and how long did it last?

 

Dwight Moore 8:55

Yeah, again, I had a variety of assignments in manufacturing and I virtually had every job you can imagine within manufacturing, which really kind of rounded out my manufacturing experience. It's really kind of prepared me for my next assignment because I was ready for something new because I had been in the aerospace and defense industry for a while and wanted to get into the commercial world so I took a job leading the manufacturing company for NCR Corporation down in Duluth, Georgia.

 

Yoni Mazor 9:31

National Cash Registers?

 

Dwight Moore 9:33

NCR That's right.

 

Yoni Mazor 9:34

All the ATMs and all these automated machines. Yeah?

 

Dwight Moore 9:38

Yep. All the point of sale systems which are essentially you know, computers with a cash register slapped on them.

 

Yoni Mazor 9:47

You know, computerized wallets. Um, but tell me so what year did you get in there? At NCR?

 

Dwight Moore 9:53

Yeah, so I was running their manufacturing facility down in Duluth, Georgia.

 

Yoni Mazor 9:59

So you relocated? And you were in Florida all these years with GE and Lockheed or…?

 

Dwight Moore 10:06

No, I was up and down the eastern seaboard. I was in...because again, they were moving us around a lot...I was in the Boston area, I was in Virginia. Roanoke, Virginia. I was in Florida and then ended up, found myself in Atlanta.

 

Yoni Mazor 10:25

So it seems like you really went through the manufacturing hubs, you know, the manufacturing experience of America. And, you know, during the 90s, which is, it's more advanced, you know, I think the glory days of the manufacturing at its peak, at its highest, and which included not just aerospace and more sophisticated stuff, we had also, you know, what we call the Jewish people, the schemata business, which is the clothing and the fashion business, that was over the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and started to go into, you know, Asia. So in the 90s, you got a real taste of what's going on with manufacturing, which is still a very strong power that the United States economy has, which it's very easy to forget, because, you know, when we think manufacturing, we think more like in clothing, toys, stuff like that. But do you when you make one Boeing airplane or one Lockheed Martin, you know, plane hundreds of millions or hundred, or, or a few billion, and that's worth like, I don't know, hundreds of factories overseas. So people tend to forget how powerful it, you know, the manufacturing, there still is happening in the United States because it's based on a lot of knowledge, a lot of precision, a lot of craftsmanship. And it seems like you got a real deep dive in it throughout the years. So you're in Georgia, this was what year you're with NCR again? This year is important to me, so we could get to today's you know?

 

Dwight Moore 11:42

Yup, yup, that was in the late 90s.

 

Yoni Mazor 11:44

Got it? Got it. So you moved to Georgia? And what was that? What was it like over there? In the South, the first taste?

 

Dwight Moore 11:51

Yeah, it was, it was great. You know, moving from Florida to Georgia, you know, so it was still in the south, but, but it was a wonderful experience for me. NCR was a very progressive company at the time, it was essentially a final assembly facility for these ATMs, or point of sale systems. And we, it was all about managing the supply chain, and we had just in time manufacturing, and just in time delivery, you know, we would deliver point of sale systems to say at Home Depot in Ohio. And the way that worked is you would ship the system in and you'd have the deployment team there, you know, at night when the store closed, and you deploy all night long, and then yeah, and then you're up and running. So everything is down to, you know, to the minute you know? And this and when you have a just in time manufacturing, you know, you're not carrying a lot of inventory on, you know, on-site. So again, it's about managing that supply chain, and a lot of our supply chain was, you know, in Asia and overseas. So when you had you know, something as simple as a bracket, you know, with the holes didn't line up, you know, you had to be all over that, on top of that, get that corrected right away, to keep that production line going and meet your deliveries.

 

Yoni Mazor 13:12

So you're saying that lean model, you know, the lean business model, even though it's in large magnitude, it's in the billions of revenue, it puts a lot of pressure to always, you know, perform at the highest level. So if any tweak happens, you got to be a few steps out of that tweak and make sure you know, shut it down. So that's a powerful experience. So ninety...you know, end of the 90s, you’re at NCR, and what was the next station?

 

Dwight Moore 13:36

So, um, what had happened is my wife was having some health problems during those days and for personal reasons, she wanted to move back to Florida...to get some care. So there are some previous business relationships, I got connected with a services company and they wanted to hire me because I had helped them do some things in the previous time frame. And anyway accepted a job and everyone thought I was absolutely out of my mind to do this. There are a lot of forks in the road of life and this was it was a major one so

 

Yoni Mazor 14:21

And why was it such a shocker for your surroundings?

 

Dwight Moore 14:24

Well, my friends would say, Look Dwight why are you taking this flyer on this job? Because I was now in the executive ranks at NCR Corporation, a very progressive company. Lots of potentials, lots of earnings, growth possibility. 

 

Yoni Mazor 14:40

And it was a public company, correct me if I'm wrong?

 

Dwight Moore 14:42

Yes, it was. Yes, it was. So I took a job for what I call a very small company. At the time, it was about 45 million in sales, a services company. They did environmental simulation testing, a company called NTS and they wanted to open up a facility in Florida, so they asked me to do it. So I took the third cut in pay with, essentially no, not much in the way of bonuses to take this, take this job to do a startup business, which is within this company. And...

 

Yoni Mazor 15:21

So once again, you deflated your own income by a third, to join a much smaller outfit that you know, and then the one you're accustomed to. But what compelled you to do so? I mean, what was the trigger? What was the motivation? What was the passion that fired you up for that position?

 

Dwight Moore 15:36

Yeah, you know, well, again, on the personal side, you know, my wife and the family situation was, you know, obviously, most important, so I had to take care of that. But also, this was an opportunity to do a startup and this company was, was very, was owned by two Jewish guys, you know, out of, grew up in Brooklyn, and they had moved out to LA. And they got to know me, and they knew that they had taken their company about as far as it could go, and they wanted to bring in some professional management.

 

Yoni Mazor 16:12

So you had a friendly relationship with the owners?

 

Dwight Moore 16:15

Wonderful relationship. Yeah, became mentors, and just...

 

Yoni Mazor 16:23

So it was a combination of family, friends, and the opportunity to, you know, take a startup to the next level, which is something you probably haven't practiced so far, but you at least had the confidence that once you take it to the top league, you have the experience, as you know, as of as executive in public companies, you know, running billions of dollars, so that was a good bet. I guess. It was a good bet.

 

Dwight Moore 16:45

Well, you know, as I said, Everyone thought I was absolutely out of my mind to do it. At the time, we had no facility, no employees, no customers, it was basically a startup. So, but...as I look back on it, it was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life. Because it was a very entrepreneurial thing. And that's where I kind of got entrepreneurial...

 

Yoni Mazor 17:09

Bug. Yeah, I call it the entrepreneur bug. Yeah, yeah. So what year was that when you came in there? It was 2000 and?

 

Dwight Moore 17:15

Yeah, about 2000 was when that all occurred.

 

Yoni Mazor 17:20

2000 you jump into NTS? And what was it like? Where did you start? And where did you finish? And what was the difference?

 

Dwight Moore 17:26

That was funny. So I took this job. And the CEO of the company, again, was this Jewish guy named Jack Lin, a great guy. And he goes, Dwight, I've been in this business for my whole life, it's gonna take you two years to become profitable. Within three months, we had a staff, we had a facility, and we were already making money. Yeah, and it is noted, and but I had, you know, I slept, you know, in the facility at night, and you know, did what you know, to run in the jobs and doing, you know, all the things that you need to do when you start up a business. And it's hard work, but I loved it. And got the bug, as I said, and...

 

Yoni Mazor 18:07

Essentially, you squeeze two years of work into 90 days with your passion when you drive and you made it much, much earlier. That's great.

 

Dwight Moore 18:13

Probably put a three years worth of our hours into those 90 days

 

Yoni Mazor 18:17

You sleep in the office, I mean you slept at work. So you’re working while you're sleeping.

 

Dwight Moore 18:23

Right. So, yeah, so I obviously got some notice. And, and so shortly after about a year and a half, you know, I moved up to the Boston area to take over all the eastern operations for this still a relatively small company, you know, at the time, again, probably by that time, it was maybe 50-55 million in annual sales.

 

Yoni Mazor 18:48

Is this still NTS or a different company?

 

Dwight Moore 18:49

NTS, the same company just got promoted to run the eastern operation. So I was running the half, half the company day-to-day operations, and I had a peer who was running the western operations. And yeah, we continue to really learn the business and understand it. And we ended up having really good success and growing all the business units that were assigned to me. 

 

Yoni Mazor 19:18

In a nutshell, sauce, what was the core of the business? What was the business model? What was the core? What was the value? 

 

Dwight Moore 19:23

Yeah, so we were a service company, and we did what's called environmental simulation, testing, and certification. So if you were a company that you make a widget that has to go on an aircraft or a computer that you want to sell, you know, in Australia or a new type of telecom switch that needs to be sold into Verizon, we would do all of it. We would simulate the environment so that it would see. So we would simulate earthquakes, we would simulate, you know, rainstorms, we would simulate the vibration of transporting a package from your warehouse, all the way to say you're shipping it to somewhere in China. We’d simulate all the environments, you know, on a plane taking off sitting in the back of a UPS truck, you know, going to altitude and maybe losing, you know, losing pressure. Going through the thermal extremes.

 

Yoni Mazor 20:29

So if I get this right that you were stress testing all these components for all these companies to make sure they're, you know, quality is there. So it's some sort of quality assurance, and all these types of environments, which is pretty unique. I never realized that there's such a component for companies to do. So it's, it's brilliant.

 

Dwight Moore 20:44

When you get on an airplane, you know, I tested and my team tested virtually every system on that plane. So when you look out the window and see...

 

Yoni Mazor 20:53

Hundreds of thousands of components.

 

Dwight Moore 20:55

Going on, we tested all that stuff. The good part is, you know, I knew we’d tested it. The bad part is I saw those things fail in the tests...

 

Yoni Mazor 21:02

Yeah, it's like you never want to go into the kitchen of your favorite restaurant. You don't want to never want to go into the environment stressing, you know, activities of the companies who like NTS, who inspected the airplane.

 

Dwight Moore 21:16

Yeah, exactly. But we had, you know, facilities. I had facilities in Detroit. We did the whole automotive space. 

 

Yoni Mazor 21:23

Do you remember where in Detroit? I happened to, I used to live there. That's why I wanted 

 

Dwight Moore 21:27

You did? Oh, yeah. We had a facility, not in a very good area. So hopefully you didn't live there. It was right off of... No, no, no. It was right off of South--? What was the main drag there?

 

Yoni Mazor 21:41

Southfield?

 

Dwight Moore 21:42

Southfield! Right off of Southfield, probably about 10 miles north of the city there.

 

Yoni Mazor 21:49

Right. I used to be in Oak Park not too far from Southfield actually, I think it's a border town. In any case, Detroit, special to my heart because my grandfather used to do manufacturing back in the day. But he was in the schmatte business. He was in the fashion business in the 50s. That's a different story for a different time. Yeah. So NTS in the northeast, running the show.

 

Dwight Moore 22:07

Yeah, doing great, having a lot of success. And over the next few years, we were really building the company. And we brought in some other professional management, Jack and his business partner basically took a backseat. He went on to be the Chairman of the Board of Directors. And I eventually became, running the whole company day to day operations, as the Chief Operating Officer. And this was what ended up being a public company.

 

Yoni Mazor 22:38

You guys did an IPO during your tenure?

 

Dwight Moore 22:41

It was during the tenure, and we grew that company to about $400 million while I was there.

 

Yoni Mazor 22:49

So you said when you entered, it was about 30-ish? 30 million?

 

Dwight Moore 22:50

It was about 40-45.

 

Yoni Mazor 22:53

So 10X the company. In how many years?

 

Dwight Moore 22:55

It took about a good 15 years to do that.

 

Yoni Mazor 23:00

So essentially, from 2000 to 2015. You were there for 15 years. That's...Wow, that's heavy.

 

Dwight Moore 23:05

So we did a lot of….I acquired about 15 different companies to kind of... We had a growth strategy of, you know, acquisition, organic growth, and innovation. So those three pillars, you know, we grew the company, and we had mainly a North American footprint. But we also had some international exposure in Japan and Vietnam, as well as...

 

Yoni Mazor 23:34

You guys never worked with IMI, I believe, Israel Military Industries?

 

Dwight Moore 23:39

Not directly No.

 

Yoni Mazor 23:40

IAI...I think it's a Israeli Aerospace Industries.

 

Dwight Moore 23:43

Yeah, we had done a couple of major proposals for them, but never, never did some work.

 

Yoni Mazor 23:51

Never materialized. Yeah. I guess so. You guys did an IPO on the NYSC?

 

Dwight Moore 23:57

Yeah, it was a...Yeah. No, I'm sorry. It was a NASDAQ. And so we did really well, for obviously, by those years, and we started to get the attention of you to know, there are a number of people tracking the company because of the growth that we were seeing and what we...

 

Yoni Mazor 24:15

When you're saying “people tracking”, just the regular analysts for Wall Street that they want to invest in the stock, or are you talking about more like private equity? 

 

Dwight Moore 24:22

Both. And we took on during a time to fuel some of our acquisition growth, we took on a minority shareholder in the private equity world, and that was my first kind of interaction with private equity. And I really got to know our partner. And I got to know how they think and how they go about their business. And I learned a lot and even adopted a lot of the kind of the metrics and kind of the way they look at the business and because we knew at some point that the company would have to go through a sale process because the two owners are now getting...They're older, and they were, you know, looking at, you know, some type of exit strategy. But, you know, long story short, we ended up about six, seven years ago now. The Board of Directors asked us to take the public company through a sale process. 

 

Yoni Mazor 25:21

So let me get the timeline straight. So when you enter 2000, what year did you guys do an IPO?

 

Dwight Moore 25:27

That was back in the early 2000s. So it was about 2003 I guess it was. 

 

Yoni Mazor 25:34

So when you're there for about three years, you did an IPO? What was the valuation of the IPO? Do you remember?

 

Dwight Moore 25:38

Yeah, it was pretty low. You know, at the time, trying to think back what the stock and the outstanding shares were.

 

Yoni Mazor 25:48

Your revenue was about 50-60 million at that time, right? Because you entered when you enter was about 40 million, I would assume you already spiked it up to 50 or 60 million?

 

Dwight Moore 25:56

Yes, it was, it was somewhere in that vicinity. I mean, this is...this was not a very highly traded, you know, stock. And it was...

 

Yoni Mazor 26:06

Yeah, the early 2000s, just for perspective, you know, the dot com bubble busted and the NASDAQ was pretty much crashed, lost, like 70 plus percent. Only now where everybody's waking up on the NASDAQ thing is all great, but it took us about 15 years or so to recover from that hit that it took on the technology bust. So it wasn't like a fertile time. So you got a modest valuation. So you're saying it's around the 10s of millions? Okay, so that was early 2000...2000, which you said around 2003? So around, you mentioned about seven years ago, so around 2013. That's when the exit strategy was put into place, as you know, the senior leadership, you know, was aging, and I guess the two options either create some sort of succession or you build an exit strategy. And the exit strategy, I guess, what was the route that you guys chose?

 

Dwight Moore 26:50

So we hired an investment firm, Houlihan Lokey. And they…

 

Yoni Mazor 26:57

What was the name again?

 

Dwight Moore 26:58

Houlihan Lokey. Out of Los Angeles. They're actually a very well-known investment company. And...

 

Yoni Mazor 27:09

Any worth mentioning stock investments that they had in the past?

 

Dwight Moore 27:14

They were investing, you know, in this aerospace industry. Can't really recall their portfolio back at the time. So we hired them. And when you go through a sale process, and particularly a company of our size, you know that again, about, you know, well, we ended up selling the process, the bottom line for about $410 million.

 

Yoni Mazor 27:45

What year and to who?

 

Dwight Moore 27:49

Yes, again, about that six years, 6-7 years ago. And we ended up, even though we were marketing it to both international strategics, you know, mainly out of Europe, they came and looked at the potential buyer, we ended up selling to a private equity firm, called Aurora Capital out of Los Angeles. And it was through that process, we marketed that company too, I think it was about 60 financial institutions, primarily private equity firms. And I think...

 

Yoni Mazor 28:23

Did you pitch it to 60 companies before the eventual sale? And when they picked up on you guys, it was 430 million you say? And this is 2013. Correct?

 

Dwight Moore 28:35

Yeah, somewhere around in that percentage. So we again, we were also, you know, marketing to these two different entities. And if you've ever been through a sale process, it's incredible, you know, tiring and brutal, you know, jumping on a plane, you know, meeting with, you know, bankers in LA and then you know, same day heading up to San Francisco,

 

Yoni Mazor 29:01

How long was that process of pitching to 60 companies?

 

Dwight Moore 29:04

It was actually more than 60, because we had about, you know, 30 to 40 strategics that we were also pitching to. And the list gets dwindled down pretty quickly, you know, as you get through the process, but the sale process took about nine months. 

 

Yoni Mazor 29:19

It was like a...just like a baby, you know?

 

Dwight Moore 29:21

Yeah, yeah. Right.

 

Yoni Mazor 29:22

From inception to delivery nine months. It's a, it's an it as you all know, it can be very painful, you know, delivery is a, it comes great joy when it's accomplished. But it can be very painful along the way and very challenging.

 

Dwight Moore 29:32

And the key was, they really liked our overall strategy. And, you know, they were looking at, you know, we were very successful from an in EBITDA point of view. And, you know, in that...

 

Yoni Mazor 29:47

No inventory, you guys pretty much carry no inventories straight shut up service, correct?

 

Dwight Moore 29:52

For sure. For sure. Yeah. Yeah, that business had its challenges, but it was very good business. Do you know? Good cash generator.

 

Yoni Mazor 30:03

 And let me ask you this. So when Aurora bought the company, did it make it private again or still remained public?

 

Dwight Moore 30:10

It was a leveraged buyout and they brought it private. Yes. It's and it's still private to this day.

 

Yoni Mazor 30:17

To this day...Got it?

 

Dwight Moore 30:18

Yep. So I stayed on for about six months. Because again, during that nine months, you know, I was living in, you know, hotels and on airplanes, you know, constantly. So, and I had a fair amount of equity, you know, in a company. And, you know, I said, you know, I wanted to retire and do all the things I said I was gonna do.

 

Yoni Mazor 30:43

So you were if it’s ok to ask, how old were you? At that point, though? When did you say I can retire?

 

Dwight Moore 30:49

Yeah. So I was, you know, in my early 50s. At the time...

 

Yoni Mazor 30:54

And you really feel you can retire? You didn't have the entrepreneurial bug? Actually, you probably did. That's what we're here today. Probably. But we'll get there.

 

Dwight Moore 30:59

Yeah, we'll get there. I thought I could.

 

Yoni Mazor 31:03

How long did the retirement last?

 

Dwight Moore 31:05

I get about three months. I was driving myself and everyone crazy around me.

 

Yoni Mazor 31:12

And you're living in Rhode Island, New Hampshire.

 

Dwight Moore 31:14

I was outside of Boston, you know, at the time. And, you know, yeah, did a lot of traveling and you know, did all the...

 

Yoni Mazor 31:25

Sailing? Any sailing?

 

Dwight Moore 31:27

Sailing, sporting events, got back in the gym, read a lot of books, all the stuff. And then one day, I rented a huge tractor because I wanted to do some... I wanted to move a few boulders in my yard. And my wife at the time looked out the window and, you know, saw me working on this tractor and ended up tearing up the whole yard. She yelled out the window, said you need to get a job. 

 

Yoni Mazor 31:59

Wow, that's a way to break it in.

 

Dwight Moore 32:00

So, you know, shortly thereafter, I got a call from a really dear friend of mine. And he said, Dwight, let's go get some coffee. He was kind of at a crossroads himself. And what we schemed over that cup of coffee was the notion of starting up our own private equity company, taking what we learned what I learned, you know, the good, the bad, the ugly of private equity, try to apply that going forward. And so we did. We started up, you know, Echelon Partners.

 

Yoni Mazor 32:32

So this was the genesis of Echelon.

 

Dwight Moore 32:34

This was the genesis of Echelon and got

 

Yoni Mazor 32:36

And what year was that?

 

Dwight Moore 32:38

Again, this is probably five years ago now, that we started Echelon.

 

Yoni Mazor 32:44

So you left around 2013-2014, you left NTS? Yeah. After the sale after the exit, and then either a little bit of retirement, and today he is still a partner, right? You conceived Echelon. Then in 2015, you launch?

 

Dwight Moore 32:59

Yes. So what happened at the time is, you know, one of the things that I saw in the private equity world was there was a lot of what we call gunpowder, a lot of money, you know, on the sidelines, and when a mid-cap company, particularly mid-cap companies came up...

 

Yoni Mazor 33:17

Give us a range of mid-cap for your standard.

 

Dwight Moore 33:19

Yeah. What I call a mid-cap company with, say, revenue from, you know, the lowest 10 million up to, you know, up to, you know, 300 million in sales got even, you know, and EBITDA from anywhere from, you know, 5 million, you know, up to up, you know, yeah,

 

Yoni Mazor 33:41

Yeah, that's mid-cap. No worries.

 

Dwight Moore 33:43

Yeah. So, what I was seeing in what happened to us when we got acquired, the valuations were given getting driven up so crazy, because there wasn't a lot of, you know, a supply of companies that kind of meeting that criteria. So, you know, the bidding would just get, you know, insane, and the valuations got driven up. So when we started our private equity firm, we said, you know what, let's just take a different approach, let's focus on small businesses. And because private equity companies at that time were really not interested, to a large degree, in small business, they, you know, felt it took the same amount of effort to buy a small business as, you know, a mid-cap company. So he said, you know, let's, let's fish in the pond when there's lots of small fish and not look at those ponds with the others.

 

Yoni Mazor 34:34

Let's go to the pink list. Yeah, yeah, the pink list, you know, in the stock market, usually, for the lower cap companies. That's a, you know, it can be wild sometimes. 

 

Dwight Moore 34:44

Right. And our business concept was okay, we're gonna go after small businesses. We want to put a dream team together, you know, for that. So, and my other partner, recruited three other business partners, so. You know, my experience is more, you know, operations, mergers, and acquisitions, you know, that kind of thing. My business partner was, you know, hardcore, also an operations guy, he had had a successful plumbing company and had a really successful exit strategy. But then we needed other skill sets. So we recruited a good friend of ours and a partner now who owns a law firm, we hired a guy that runs a PR firm, marketing, and PR firm. And then we brought on, not hired but brought on another partner, who owns an accounting firm. So...

 

Yoni Mazor 35:42

Lethal combination, you got the law, you got the numbers, you got the operations, you got the market, you got everything.

 

Dwight Moore 35:49

The dream team. So once we formed our business structure, it got our operating agreements in place and bylaws and all that jazz, we then went out and started identifying companies. And so yeah, we're still a boutique small little company, and we are completely self-funded through our own wealth, and, you know, buying these companies and operating them. And, you know, having a lot of fun doing it. You know, we, you know, the whole model is to bring these companies on, we mentor them with the skill sets we have, help them scale, and then bring them through a sale process. And

 

Yoni Mazor 36:29

So essentially, you manage this company through your own wealth and your own passion and experience, which is a very interesting combination. And not just about Here's the money, give us results, and bye-bye. It's more really leadership, you know, giving what you have accumulated all these years, all of them to dream team, through probably the finest industries in fighting in finance companies, this economy, and you want to drill it down to the organizations that you're invested monetarily in, but I guess also, on a day to day operational basis, so let's touch I guess, you know, I'm sure there's a portfolio of a few companies, but let's touch the one that I guess is most relevant for our audience, which is, you know, e-commerce and particularly Amazon sellers, which is Tradeport. Yeah, so take me to that.

 

Dwight Moore 37:10

So, Tradeport was one of our acquisitions. And it is in the reverse logistics space, it basically does, you know, two things. The real core of the business is we are a third-party solution for managing product returns for companies. And this, the categories of companies that we work with are certainly, you know, Amazon, resellers, big client group of ours. But we also work directly with manufacturers, distributors, you know, brick and mortar retailers...

 

Yoni Mazor 37:49

Wholesalers?

 

Dwight Moore 37:50

Wholesalers, third-party warranty companies, anybody who gets a product returned to them is a potential client.

 

Yoni Mazor 37:57

Essentially, a product returned from consumers, when consumers bring back the goods, especially the ones that you're not sure of their condition, there's a challenge for all these organizations, you know, who are in trade, with returns, and you, Tradeport comes in and brings a turnkey solution where you outsource all the inspections, all the quality assurance, and then that's one component. But then there's a component of either redirecting it or actually selling it, right, that's when you guys help and actually liquidate or create some sort of, you know, liquidity event and when you sell in marketplaces, so share a little bit about that.

 

Dwight Moore 38:33

Sure. And before I do, you know, your companies, when I engage with any new potential company, it's really a strategic decision for them. Do they want to manage their returns themselves? Or do they want to hire a professional company to do it for them?  And if they're doing a great job with it, and they're efficient, and I always tell them, keep doing it. But if returns are a pain point, and you're struggling with it a bit or don't have a great solution, you know, that's where we fit. And for me, it's, again, I've had a lot of different work experiences. What I like about this business, personally, is, it's solving a major problem for companies because as return policies get more and more generous, returns can make the difference between profitability and loss for companies. So, if we can help them, monetize those returns in the most efficient way, you know, we're helping them solve a big problem. But I also, you know, as I get older, you know, I'm thinking about the future of, you know, my kids and future generations. You know, what we are doing is really repurposing products and that is something that's really important to me personally, and we have at Tradeport something called a soulful purpose. And part of that soulful purpose is really, you know, protecting the planet for future generations and that gives, you know, our employees, you know, not just a place to, you know, earn a buck, it's also we're really doing good work here, you know, for the future. So...

 

Yoni Mazor 40:17

So let's take an example of that. So you know, if you deal with electronics, for example, you get a lot of returns, and you say, you know, I have no time, no capacity, no resources, I'm just going to dump it. So, therefore, there's a double loss, there's a financial loss, obviously, for the company. But like, as you were mentioning, there's actually a loss for the environment. Is this going to rot somewhere in some sort of a field and hurt, you know, hurt the Earth? And when there's an option actually to opt into Tradeport, it gets repurposed, it may...probably going to get resold. So there's a monetary stimulation for whoever is going to give it to you to do so. So it's going to get their money back or even make a, turn a profit. But of course, I get that. Yeah, that's very, very strategic thinking long-term about the environment. That's pretty brilliant. 

 

Dwight Moore 40:57

You know, as I walked through our large warehouse, we've just moved into a very, very large warehouse. And in the last two years, you walk through there, yeah...

 

Yoni Mazor 41:06

And this is in Rhode Island, correct? 

 

Dwight Moore 41:08

No, this is in Dover, New Hampshire.

 

Yoni Mazor 41:10

Sorry. Yeah. I always get confused with NH and RI. You guys are neighbors, right?

 

Dwight Moore 41:15

Yeah. There's one state in between Massachusetts.

 

Yoni Mazor 41:19

Oh, that's, that's pretty thick, pretty thick state got it. Okay.

 

Dwight Moore 41:23

But, yeah, yeah, historically, 10 years ago, a lot of these products would end up in a landfill. But nowadays, you go through our warehouse, less than 1% actually goes to recyclers and to the landfill. So it's just it's really...

 

Yoni Mazor 41:39

That’s an immediate, immediate reward. 

 

Dwight Moore 41:43

And the most important thing is we're recovering... We're having a financial recovery for the customers that we serve. And, you know, that, that's amazing because we're helping them survive and create jobs. And, you know, for our economy, and through this whole COVID thing, you know, we were essential workers, we worked through it all, we put, you know, tough protocols in place to protect our employees. We've had, knock on wood, no cases, and we've been able to serve everyone that is our customer today.

 

Yoni Mazor 42:15

Good job, good job. So let me give some perspective to Amazon sellers out there listening. So essentially, if you sell on Amazon FBA or even just FBM, fulfilled by the merchant, when you get you know when you start to scale, that's when you really start to notice, in all these returns you're getting from consumers, like Dwight mentioned, Amazon is very generous with, you know, the return policy. So, you know, things might be a little bit open box to kind of use or even maybe a little bit damaged, stuff like that. And as you scale that hurts your balance sheet, because you have, you got to depreciate all these products, if you're not gonna monetize them somehow, right? If you're just gonna let it rot in your warehouse, you're losing, if you're just gonna throw it away, you're losing. So what you can simply do is either from your warehouse, ship it to Tradeport so they can convert it into cash, and repurpose it. Or if you start using the FBA model, the fulfilled by Amazon model, when your products are on Amazon's warehouses, you know, you can just do a direct removal order from Amazon's warehouses directly to Tradeport. It's very efficient, very easy. It costs 50. It's a flat fee of 50 cents a unit wherever the Amazon warehouse is located. So it's a no-brainer, you send it there, you get full visibility, what's going on with my products, you know, that everything I returned? Yes, what's the condition of each one, if any of the products are really in mint condition, where you can repurpose it back to Amazon, that's gonna get happened instead of just being thrown away. So it gives an opportunity for sellers, Amazon sellers, especially for their planet to grow and scale up the opportunity to really repurpose, and in touch, that pain point that usually you see it in the balance sheet at the end of the year, where you got to pay taxes but a lot of your money is stuck in inventory. And, you know, you know, there's not a lot of liquidity to deal with this issue, especially when you scale up. So it brings a much sounder position for your balance sheet and your cash flow level if you put that into gear, so..

 

Dwight Moore 43:58

And it's worse on the balance sheet, but what I find is, you know, I have a financial background as well and, you know, a lot of companies that, you know, that we do business with, when I first got go into them, you know, particularly in consumer electronics and things if it sits on the shelf, it's depreciating over time, right? So it's sitting on your balance sheet, and eventually, you have to move that product off and what you don't want to do is take a huge loss because the actual value of that inventory is a lot less than what you have on the books and it can really hurt you on your financial statements and your cash flow. So what we find is, you know, when you engage with us, you know, we're on top of all of that inventory, we're processing as quickly as possible and monetizing it quickly but to avoid some of that depreciation, then you don't...you can avoid those surprises you know, at the end of the fiscal year when your auditors are telling you Hey, what about all those inventories that you got, you know, it's still valued at you know, the value on the books.

 

Yoni Mazor 45:01

Yeah, it's a very good point. So time is of the essence, there's a sense of urgency and Tradeport can lead you with that as well. Obviously, your job as a merchant, or as a, you know, being in trade, you know, take the money put into inventory and cash it out as soon as possible. Because if you don't, there's an element of depreciation as well, or just overtime is just going to rot in your warehouse and be returned all the way down into zero. Some inventory, you know, you can't even give it away if you don't have the right place to put it out or the right outlet. So definitely Tradeport can get you the right outlet. They can sell it on Amazon, they can sell on eBay, they can sell it to third-party suppliers or distributors. So there's an opportunity to find more outlets for your goods and repurpose them. And that's a point of strength because they develop that infrastructure, as opposed to somebody, has,...All they know is selling on Amazon and anywhere else. No clue. Where you guys have a clue. So that brings up the opportunity.

 

Dwight Moore 45:49

Yeah, and I don't want to give the impression that that's all we do is sell products. So what we do is when we bring on a client, we look at what their requirements and needs are. And we structure a program for them because as many of these sellers know, you know, a lot of product that comes back through you know, which is deemed by Amazon as unsellable, it truly is, you know, a very good product. And sometimes it's in pristine condition. So what we do is we identify that stuff and peel it off quickly. It's all about reducing touch labor and getting products in the right disposition path as quickly as possible. So we peel that stuff off. We, you know, do a quick inspection. And we can put, we know all the rules to put that back into FBA. If you’re an FBA seller, we can put it on the shelf here and you can drop orders in, we can do merchant fulfilled here. We also identify, you know, working with Katida, you know, we can identify all the Amazon claims for fraudulent returns and people return things without accessories, you know all that stuff, you know, you get credits back in your account working through Katida, which is a wonderful value add service, we do all kinds of refurbishments, and hopefully again, be able to put that back into finished goods. Then, you have, you know, that stuff that you can't put back into finished goods, because maybe it's got some cosmetic issues or some other things going on with but it has intrinsic value. That's where we try to find b2c solutions to maximize the value of that stuff. And then lastly, beyond that, is if you have procurement agreements that enable you to send defective products back to your vendors for credit, we have a whole program of facilitating that. So that's another great alternative if your agreements allow that.

 

Yoni Mazor 47:40

That's a great point. So there you have it, folks, this is you know, the point where we catch Dwight Moore and his current position in life, he's heading a Tradeport. He's a CEO, and I guess one of the investors with his private equity group and partners invested into this outfit. I do believe that there's probably hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars worth of, you know, products being returned all over the place in our economy, which needs a...needs, that's going to waste, it's actually a lot of hundreds of millions of probably billions. I don't have the exact numbers, but it's probably a very, very large scale. So you know, this is a fresh terrain. Ecommerce is booming by the seconds and, and this pain point will probably be much more visible towards the end of this year when a lot of companies and employers realize, Oh, well, what am I gonna do with all these returns? So I think it's a very interesting position to be in in the marketplace. So Dwight, thank you so much for sharing your story so far. It's been an amazing ride all across America, from manufacturing to service to IPOs. To reverse logistics and e-commerce. It's pretty impressive, right? So I do greatly appreciate that you shared it with us. If you guys want to reach out to the Tradeport and, you know, reach out to Dwight, you can just simply visit their website is tradeportusa.com, once again, is tradeportusa.com. Very, very nice, friendly staff. Great people, so feel free to reach out. Okay, let's close off this episode, as we usually do for every episode is what is your message of hope and inspirations for entrepreneurs listening out there?

 

Dwight Moore 49:10

Great. So I just got a few life lessons, I guess as far as that goes. As you scale your business, you know, fight hard to keep that entrepreneurial spirit not only for yourself but for your employees. And one of my lifelong challenges, as I develop people that work for me, is really trying to keep that spirit but also have a mindset of ownership. Even if you're, you know, one of the employees, you know, how do you, how do you transition or help that employee think like an owner? But as a business owner... Just a few last thoughts here. Once you have a business concept that you believe in, go after it. Work your ass off. And then I guess what I've learned through life is wealth is generated through ownership. And it's one of the best ways to do it. And if you own your own business, and you can make it successful, you will find great wealth. But the last thing I want to leave you with is through my life, you know, I've listened to a lot of different people, but listen to your instincts. Your instincts are probably your best thing to rely on because you're going to run across a lot of naysayers out there. People say you can't do things. And you know, the reality is most of the time, they're wrong. If your heart's in it, and you work hard, most likely you can overcome just about everything.

 

Yoni Mazor 50:51

Beautiful stuff. Nothing more to add. Usually Yeah, but this is great stuff. Dwight, thank you so much. I hope everybody enjoyed it. Stay well stay healthy. Until next time, take care, everybody.

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