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Meet Yukon Palmer of FieldLogix in Kearny Mesa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yukon Palmer.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Yukon. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was one of the top sales people at Teletrac (the second fleet management monitoring provider after Qualcomm) in the early 2000’s. At the same time, I went back to school at SDSU to get my MBA. While in the MBA program, I took a business plan development class taught by Dr. Alex DeNoble. Along with other classmates, we decided to write a business plan for starting a fleet management company. During our research, we discovered that the industry was projected to grow by order of magnitude over the next few years. We then pitched our plan at 3 national business plan competitions and received an incredible amount of encouragement from the various judges.

During my last semester in the MBA program, I decided to start the business, while my teammates opted to pursue other opportunities. I then used $3,500 of my personal savings to start FieldLogix (which was then called Field Technologies). I started the company as reseller of various 3rd party fleet management systems until I could get enough capital to build my own system.

In 2006, I was able to fund development of our proprietary fleet management system from a bank loan. By focusing on a unique opportunity in the market, our company doubled in revenues over several years.

As the industry has matured, we shifted focus to become one of the first in our industry to provide an extensive set of driver behavior management features. We’ve also heavily incorporated mobile technology into our offering and recently launched wearables to enhance the fleet management experience for our clients.

Today, we are a recognized innovation leader in our industry, having won the IoT (Internet of Things) Connected Solutions leadership award from Compass Intelligence, among other awards. Going forward, we are placing more of a focus on the emerging capabilities of mobile technology.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There have been various challenges along the way.

To begin, we have historically been “bootstrapped”, meaning we did not raise outside capital for the first 15 years of our existence. This presents tremendous challenges since we never really had a significant financial cushion to fall back on when times were difficult. I can point out 3 key events that presented the biggest challenges for us.

  1. Failure of a key partner (2005 to 2007)

    When we were a reseller of 3rd party systems, we picked up a product from a well-known San Diego-based startup that offered a unique fleet management solution that monitored vehicle diagnostics. The relationship started off great and it helped propel our revenues. However, after about a year, the relationship soured due to the degradation of their product quality. We began to have over a 30% failure rate with many of our deployments. In nearly every case, we were forced to absorb the costs to repair or replace the product. This led to a significant increase in support costs as well as distractions, as we were forced to spend more time repairing their product rather than selling it. Because of these issues (an extreme difficulty in working with the company to resolve the issues), we decided that the timing was right to build our proprietary solution, FieldLogix.

  2. Roll out of FieldLogix (2007)

    We initially used an overseas contractor when developing our proprietary fleet management platform, FieldLogix. While the development costs where low, the product development results were subpar. After several months of development, the product was in such poor shape that it would constantly crash when trying to demonstrate it to potential customers. We were in a difficult position because the product we resold was having significant problems and the new product that we were moving toward wasn’t in a sellable state. We eventually resolved the issue by bringing all development in house and hiring a very talented software developer.

  3. 2G Sunset (2015 – 2017)

    Our in-vehicle devices use wireless cellular technology to communicate with our servers. Until 2012, 100% of our deployed devices used AT&T’s network. In late 2012, AT&T announced that they were planning on shutting down this wireless network by 2017. We were forced to go to nearly all of our customers and ask them to pay for new equipment (that had essentially the same functionality) in order to keep their system on-line. Unfortunately, this triggered these organizations to decide whether they wanted to absorb the costs to upgrade, terminate the service, or switch to a different provider. While we were able to keep 66% of these customers, the remaining 33% didn’t continue with our service and it caused an erosion on revenues. We have been working to diversify our revenues and win much larger accounts in order to mitigate the negative impact of this event.

Please tell us about FieldLogix.
Since 2002, we have been providing the most innovative solutions in our industry. During this entire period, we’ve focused on providing an excellent user experience. This spans throughout our product development initiatives, sales, customer support, fulfillment, and billing processes.

We focus on innovation. We were the first in our industry to focus on monitoring and managing driver behavior.

The first to integrate route optimization and the first to develop wearable technology. We have won the following awards: IoT (Internet of Things) Innovation Leader for Connected Vehicles from Compass Intelligence and the Outstanding Emerging Growth Company Award from TechAmerica.

We also focus on providing outstanding customer support. This was recognized by Dunn & Bradstreet, who gave us a 97% customer support satisfaction score after surveying our customers. We have also been an A+ BBB member since 2003.

In addition to the above items, we have a very rich mobile offering that complements our fleet management solution. This gives us a unique advantage over our competition.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Most of our challenges, particularly early in the business, can be attributed to the following:

– Poor vendor selection and management
– Poor employee vetting
– Dependence on 3rd parties
– Taking too long to make major changes

Early in the business, we did not properly research and monitor our vendors. This is what led to the product issues that made things very difficult for us.

We made several bad hires when the business first started growing rapidly. Many people came along that didn’t have the best intentions and wanted to be part of something that was successful, even though they didn’t have much to contribute. We have since taken a much more cautious when hiring new employees.

Due to the nature of our business, we are often dependent on 3rd parties. We try to diversify our vendor sources as much as possible to mitigate the risk associated with any individual 3rd party that may pose us any problems.

We have often found ourselves taking too long to make major changes that are critical to the future of the business.

Since we have always grown the business based on its existing revenues, we have limited capital for long-term investments. This requirement for short-term payoffs becomes a major inhibitor when we have to make major changes that don’t result in an immediate payback.

Pricing:

  • Pricing starts at $14.95 per vehicle per month

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
FieldLogix 2017

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