From Intern to CEO with uShip’s Heather Hoover-Salomon
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In this episode of Everything is Logistics, Blythe speaks with Heather Hoover-Salomon, CEO of uShip, about her journey from a PR intern to leading the 20-year-old company.

She discusses writing an unsent resignation letter that changed her career trajectory, advocating for customers, embracing AI, and encouraging women in logistics.

Heather also explores navigating entrepreneurial challenges, leveraging data for streamlined solutions, promoting diversity in male-dominated industries, and using strategic communication to drive organizational change.


“Did I really want to leave? No. But it helped me clearly articulate and put on paper, what the roadblock is, what I want to do about it, and then clearly articulate alright, what am I going to go back and talk to my senior leadership about and really make the case that we need to drive change here in order for our business to be sustainable in order for us to earn the right to continue to innovate in areas outside of our core business.”

“Week one was all communication to the company: here’s what’s happening, here’s why. Here’s the plan- just giving confidence, lots of meetings with lots of people internally, and then communicating the plan and the way forward.” – Heather Hoover-Salomon (on her first week as CEO)




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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 0:05

The reason why I wrote the resignation letter. Did I really want to leave? No, but it helped me clearly articulate and put on paper what the roadblock is, what I want to do about it, and then clearly articulate all right, what am I going to go back and talk to my senior leadership about and really make the case that we need to drive change here in order for our business to be sustainable, in order for us to earn the right to continue to innovate in areas outside of our core business?

Blythe Brumleve: 0:52

business All right. Welcome into another episode of Everything is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. We are proudly presented by SPI Logistics and I am your host, Blythe Brumleve. We've got an amazing guest for you today We've got Heather Hoover-Salomon. She is the CEO of uShip. We're going to be talking about shipping items that are bigger than parcel, but also about an unsent resignation letter that helped change the trajectory of her career. It's a really great story that I just listened to on another podcast, so I'm excited for you to share that story so.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 1:19

Heather, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for having me. It's great to meet you and happy to be here.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:24

Welcome to the show. Thank you so much for having me. It's great to meet you and happy to be here. Awesome. Likewise, the feeling is mutual and one of those that interview that I was referring to. It comes from Power to Fly, which was really great discussion, and I'm going to link to it in the show notes in case anybody wants to take a listen to it. But it said that you were the longest tenured employee at uShip before and then you started off as a PR intern for the company, but before that you worked at a poultry company. So could you kind of, I guess, explain to us how you got started at 16 years old, working at a poultry company?

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 1:58

Let me make sense of some of this. So definitely not the standard path. I will say that. Admit that I grew up in a very small town in Northeast Texas and we're known for our poultry, peaches and just farming farming in general, ranching, farming, everything. Peaches Got a lot of good peaches in Northeast Texas, so one of the larger organizations or businesses there was Pilgrim's Pride Corporation and so that was the poultry company that I ended up working for. That business had very humble beginnings, started as a feed store and my parents owned a business own still own a business in that small town. My dad is a jeweler, actually by trade. He's a craftsman, also a farmer, because everyone in our town they're typically farmers. But he knew he was a very close family friend with the then CEO and founder of Pilgrims and had several friends within that organization.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 3:03

When I became 16 years old I got a phone call from the CFO of Pilgrims and it's all in who you know and small towns are great communities. This is the moral of the story here. But he called me and said hey, I heard you're ready for an internship and I would babysit his kids. So he knew my work ethic and that I was responsible and so I had an amazing opportunity to come in and talk with the CFO of Pilgrims and he helped connect me with other leaders within the company.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 3:36

And then it was like, where would you like to intern? And so I gravitated towards the information technology department Immediately, was very impressed with the organization and also the tech enablement that they were investing in at that point in time to try to streamline things. At that point, the company was around 50,000 people globally, so I said yes to this internship, helped them create e-learning programs and so on and so forth. I had zero training in this. You truly just figure it out hungry, fail fast, learn, grow. So that's how I got into the chicken business on the technology side.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:19

And I think that from that same interview that I referenced before, you were told that it's okay to fail. Yes, which I think is such an interesting and such a, I guess, a refreshing take, especially from a bigger company, where they're willing to roll the dice and take a chance on a 16-year-old coming in to build something for them like an e-learning system, and it's okay to fail.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 4:43

And this is where I have to give credit to my direct boss, who was a director of training at that point in time, as well as a help desk. She's a female, she was somebody I look up to greatly and it's like we've got this, you're good, like what's the worst that can happen, kind of thing. So that was definitely not the norm and I know that because of other departments that I was surrounded by in this very large company. But she really helped coach me and helped me understand that it's okay to fail and I was very much type A perfectionist so it was difficult for me to really grasp that mentality. But it certainly paid dividends to get me where I am today, that's for sure.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:30

So how long did you end?

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 5:35

up staying at that company. So I stayed with them until let's see 2005. And then I found uShip in 2005. So did a short stint study abroad while it was finishing my undergrad at University of Texas, austin, and started working with uShip in 05, graduated University of Texas fall of 06, already had a full time position with uShip. But it is true that I did start unpaid intern public relations and it was me walking into a room with five guys and this was the company total startup mode.

Blythe Brumleve: 6:16

So how much of it? I guess a shocking development was that for you to go from a 50,000 employee company to a five person employee company.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 6:26

It was. So what was really? I remember the day very well and I walk in and I was like, okay, I know that they are backed by benchmark capital, they've closed their series A, they're getting more serious. Uh, let me see what I can do and what I can learn from them as well. And I walk in and I was like, oh, okay, not as buttoned up as I thought, no problem.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 6:52

And I think one of my first remarks to my boss was wow, you guys need a lot more than just public relations and I can help and I can do this. And so that was just my hunger there, just continuing to learn and grow with them as well. So I set up systems for them to support customers. Obviously, public relations, you've got to know your audience and get to know all of your customers. And so that's how I really dove in and utilized all of my learnings from Pilgrims to understand how we develop processes and procedures and documentation, and utilized all of my learnings from Pilgrims to understand how we develop processes and procedures and documentation and just all of that good rigor that you need in business, but really helped them there and was really able to write my own job description again and again and again.

Blythe Brumleve: 7:39

So what were those early learnings that you got from customers? And also maybe explain what uShip does for folks who may not know. Great, great question.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 7:50

So uShip is an online marketplace for shipping large and bulky goods. uShip was actually modeled after the concept of eBay, so connecting buyers and sellers anywhere in the world and giving them a forum and a place to find typically uncommon goods. For uShip similar concept there are consumers and businesses that need to move the non-conveyable items. So they're not in a box, they're greater than 150 pounds. It could be something super fragile that needs extra handling or care. It could be a crane that needs a whole slew of other things in order to be moved across the country, and uShip was a way to enable consumers and businesses to find excess capacity or just capacity in general that met their very specific need that you can't get going to USPS, fedex, ups in that regard. So that's the humble beginnings, where we started, you know, was really consumer focused. So think, like you inherit a piece of furniture from a family member in Louisiana and I'm in Texas and I want to get it over here. How do I do that? Because otherwise it's going to be sold locally, so you could post it on uShip and then move over. So that's the concept and that's what we do. We tech enable that.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 9:20

So early learnings, though going back to that understanding why the customers used us, why how they found value in us. And then, likewise with the carriers, getting to know the carriers. Why are you interested in us? How are we actually helping you? And that's what was so exciting early on was I was so close to the customer and knew our product really well.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 9:44

I was able to facilitate getting feedback into our product really well. I was able to facilitate getting feedback into our product and engineering teams much more quickly and streamlining that. So you know, very quickly we started getting traction. We started getting traction from businesses and we started having repeat customers. And so it's like, oh wow, we've got a new revenue stream here. How do we cater to the product, to two businesses, two repeat customers, what are their needs? And then carriers how do we help carriers manage their business? How do we ensure that they're utilizing their capacity to a huge extent so that they're not having empty miles and things like that? So that was really like early learnings, working with the customers and feeding it all back into the product to continue to iterate on it.

Blythe Brumleve: 10:29

That's super interesting. And a few questions about the platform. Is it global? Is there more like a US domestic North America?

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 10:37

Great question. Our predominant footprint is in the lower 48. However, we have localized sites across the world. Again, our most prominent area is lower 48 from a carrier coverage standpoint. But if you have a car, a cat, a boat to ship in Europe, you can absolutely do that intra-Europe Australia, canada, mexico, latam, et cetera.

Blythe Brumleve: 11:05

Oh, interesting, so you ship like animals and things, so all kinds of freight, really Anything, yes, yes, because I was almost thinking well, it sounds like LTL, less than truckload freight, but it almost sounds like more complex than you know, I guess. Just less than truckload, much more complex.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 11:21

We do have a less than truckload freight product offering that allows you to price compare against all of your major name brand less than truckload freight carriers that we see in the US. But those are pallets, pallets and crates and we're just making it easier for that, probably like a one to five pallet type shipper, making it easier for them to move goods. But the vast majority of our volume that we do are the non-palletized. It's not easily conveyable. It needs special love and care, in some way shape form to be moved and that's where our unique capacity that we have built over the last 20 years has really come into play and we're able to package that market it effectively to allow for consumers and businesses alike to tap into that unique capacity.

Blythe Brumleve: 12:15

So where are, I guess, from the repeat buyer, the repeat customer. What are those, I guess, types of? Is it normal regular freight for the repeat customers, or do they have regular freight options, or are they? Is it more? Just everything is different for those repeat customers.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 12:35

I would say everything is there's differences, but there are some consistencies. So let me give you a couple of examples in terms of our channel partners who provide repeat customers with us. So home delivery, moving furniture, is one of our largest categories, and so we partner with a lot of marketplaces that sell furniture high-end used furniture, as well as that is actually a brand name. That is one of our customers high-end used furniture, but literally high-end used furniture, as well as what we do. That's awesome.

Blythe Brumleve: 13:13

I got the SEO on that one.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 13:16

Exactly so. We have integrations with Shopify that allow for smaller businesses, that, hey, integrations with Shopify that allow for smaller businesses, that, hey, I handcraft tables, or whatever it could be. We have a customer that creates oyster shucking tables which, as a Texan, I didn't know that was a thing, but it is and so they utilize us to be able to get that unique product to their customer. So it's been amazing for them, because they don't have to just sell locally anymore and they're in the Northeast, so now they can ship nationwide utilizing uShip through our APIs that we're enabling these businesses to do that.

Blythe Brumleve: 13:56

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Blythe Brumleve: 14:45

And so, as you're having these customer conversations, which is you know, I got my start in freight and sort of the marketing side of things as well, but I never had the opportunity, especially early on in my career, to directly talk to the customers. I wish I would have known. You know what I know now. I wish I would have known that back then or maybe had the initiative to do that, but I imagine you learned so much from having those conversations. How did that sort of drive, the product or the trajectory of uShip from those early conversations?

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 15:21

I spent so much time on the phone, reading emails and also engaging in our forums we had a community forum at that point in time when community forums were incredibly popular for marketplace businesses but took the time to understand and I am an incredibly empathetic person.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 15:39

I can put myself in your shoes and, you know, easily do that so I truly tried to take the kernels, the nuggets of information from each of the different personas that we cater to and feed that back to the product. So a few examples carriers I mean historically have said wow, we don't like the bidding model. Some do, some don't, and right now we're a marketplace, so we offer or allow for multiple carriers to place bids on a particular shipment in order for them to win the job. So we started introducing additional pricing mechanisms to allow for the customer to set a rate and then the carrier then becomes a price taker so they can just book it and they're moving on. So a lot of the information that I would gather was really all about how do we streamline the entire process and reduce friction. How do we do that?

Blythe Brumleve: 16:51

for every type of shipment that we move and really meet the needs of the carriers that are moving this really unique freight and so you're having all of these conversations with customers and then you're using that to sort of drive the business forward.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 17:03

Just pass it everything to product and then they go and start testing and learning.

Blythe Brumleve: 17:05

just pass it everything to product, and then they go and start testing and, yeah, learning, and so what, I guess? Um, it sounds like you were handling a lot of roles, though, especially at a small startup. And so what, what were? How did your role evolve from?

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 17:15

there. At one point in time I also oversaw HR. Very early on, I was handling different trade show events and things like that as well. I did some marketing. Whatever was needed, it truly was wear all the hats, be a sponge, learn from others that are brought into the business as a startup.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 17:39

I remember the day we hired our first engineer that was from a different state Reload he and his wife here and I was like this is a really big deal, we're maturing, this is great. And then again, with marketing, you know, bringing in top tier talent that I'm able to learn and grow from as well. So I never got caught up on title or like span of responsibility or anything like that. I was like I'm here to learn and I fundamentally want to make this business successful. But I think the consistent thing in my entire career has been just truly being in lockstep with what our customers are saying, because superior support, service, experience that's the winning recipe, and so that's something that I've brought into my current role in terms of driving importance of that and you see it reflected across our organization.

Blythe Brumleve: 18:39

And eventually you are. So I had mentioned earlier about how you had an unsent resignation letter. So how did your role evolve to the moment where you thought about resigning from your role and maybe trying something new? Yes, exactly.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 18:57

I mean. In any business, you're going to have ebbs and flows. You're going to try a multitude of different things. Some of those ideas will work. Some of them will fail.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 19:06

Where I became frustrated is that we were trying so many different new product ideas or entering into new markets, and it really spread our operational team very thin, and so I was bringing up concerns about being a sustainable business and ensuring that we're also carrying and feeding the back office to ensure that we can continue to provide amazing support and service. At this point in time, by the way, I was probably director level, overseeing customer operations, so I was really the reason why I wrote the resignation letter. Did I really want to leave? No, but it helped me clearly articulate and put on paper what the roadblock is, what I want to do about it, and then clearly articulate all right, what am I going to go back and talk to my senior leadership about and really make the case that we need to drive change here in order for our business to be sustainable, in order for us to earn the right to continue to innovate in areas outside of our core business? So it made the conversation so much more easy because I came in very prepared, but for me, conversation so much more easy because I came in very prepared.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 20:27

But for me, I did it. In a way, I wrote a resignation letter because it's like I'm leaving because of blank, because I am unable to break through this barrier and either I get support to do so and therefore my team is Otherwise. Why am I here? Because I am fighting a battle that I'm not getting any support from, and it's really important. So I was able to clearly articulate that and that's why I did that, and it's also a great thing to look back on, because you're just like oh, I overcame that. I can do that. It's a reminder.

Blythe Brumleve: 21:05

Yeah, absolutely, because I would imagine that a lot of people are going through that right now. You know reduced workforces and you know overload on work and there's not clear expectations from the top, and it's almost. People are almost fearful to be able to voice those concerns because they don't want to be on the chopping block next. So did that fear kind of exist for you too?

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 21:36

Oh, yes, absolutely.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 21:37

But where I got my confidence again was the customer, and I always put it in terms of here's what the customer is feeling and why this is so important. And, of course, I also had my facts in terms of the metrics and everything, and I knew how much revenue potential we had. Maybe we weren't unlocking all of that revenue potential, but I really talked about it, humanized it and like this is what the customer wants. This is what we're not able to give them and I'm using that customer term loosely, inclusive of carriers and transporters in general but that allowed for my voice to truly be heard. It wasn't about me. It's not about me I can go find another job or, you know, create something on my own, but truly being an advocate for our users who are depending upon our service to move their commerce, to move their goods, whatever it is, and to make a living and that's really where I got my confidence and it was like this is not about you. This is about doing what's right for your customers that you love and adore and want to support.

Blythe Brumleve: 22:38

And so, speaking of you know, wanting to love and to support the customer, I imagine that your team wanted to love and support you, because if I'm a boss and someone comes to me with that level of confidence and prepared to leave if I don't provide that, I'm stepping up for that employee as well. So did you feel like you got that level of support after that moment? I did.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 23:01

I did, and if I wouldn't have, I wouldn't have remained. But the founders were just like, okay, she's bringing this to the table. We need to listen, we need to take this seriously, and I mean, they're all great guys, very entrepreneurial, you know, and so it's harder for them to see what's actually happening on the, you know, at the level of the customer, like, what are the customers feeling, what is our support team feeling and what do we need to do to address that? And so really, it was just me kind of raising that up and ensuring that I'm saying in a way that it resonates with them, and I continue to just beat that customer drum to ensure that that information and the heart behind it, the people behind it, are heard and seen. So, like example, today we do monthly, company-wide, all hands. We always have a user spotlight. We always want to ensure that people know who are we doing this for, like, what are the types of people we're doing this for, why do we exist, why do we matter? And that is so critical, I think, in any business.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:13

Absolutely. Very well said, and I imagine that after this sort of situation happens and plans are put in place, there's also a recognition, maybe among the leadership team, that this is somebody that you know could hold up the CEO role. Or how did how did that evolve into the CEO role? Take me to that moment.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 24:32

So it's, you know, it's interesting. I think somewhere after that I I won an uh uh an award. It was a leader of the year and our founder, um Matt Chason, who's still on our board today and supports the business. He I have no idea if he would ever remember this, but I do. But he actually said in the speech when he was giving me the award he was like someday she will be CEO of this company and I was in one ear out the other. Oh, that's a very flattering thing to say. But and then you know, matt Chasen went on to start another business, left our business but again remained on the board.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 25:10

So we brought in two other CEOs in between him and then me taking the role last year, and those other two CEOs. I was on a mission to support them and make sure they were successful and to work with them and everything. But I think our board knew me, they knew that I was vocal, they knew that I was the customer person, the advocate, and I have been with the company, the longest tenured employee of the company, and so when the last CEO decided to step away and go do something else, I said immediately I want to throw my name in the hat here, so I'm ready, let's go. Yes, this is my first CEO appointment a 20-year-old business but I know all the ins and outs and truly it's not about I know nothing compared to many, many brilliant people, and that's okay. I still know what it takes to run this business and I also surround myself with people far smarter than me and I challenge myself to be a forever learner and I think that allows for me to fly and be successful in this role.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:27

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Heather Hoover-Salomon: 27:19

There was that particular week. First of all, in January 2023, I was named interim because the board did choose to do a full search, which I was supportive of, because I want the right person, the best person in seat for this role. So I wasn't finalized as CEO until May of 2024. So right at a year now, full permanent. Thank you very much.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 27:46

So week one was a lot. It was all communication to the company. Here's what's happening, here's why everything is fine. Here's the plan Just giving confidence, lots of meetings with lots of people internally and then communicating the plan and the way forward, because I did drive a lot of change in those first few months, as much as I could, being in an interim position, and that can be very unsettling for a lot of people within the company. However, I do have a lot of people here, too, that have employees who have worked with me a long time, that have a lot of trust in me. They know my values, they know why I'm still here and why I'm really passionate about this business. So I knew that I had the support internally to be able to drive that change with minimal disruption to our executing against our goals.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:39

What were those first big things? I guess you changed.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 28:44

I did do a reorg in our marketing department was like the first thing and that's never easy to do all amazing people but brought in new talent, and we're on a completely different trajectory right now in terms of utilization of our marketing tech stack. We've completely revamped everything and it's really, really exciting Again, being a 20 year old business and if you haven't invested a lot in up leveling your marketing tech stack, even your ideals on how you market, what you should do, shouldn't do, what good looks like. All of that had been rather neglected, I would say. So really just putting a fresh, adding a fresh perspective there, enabling new leadership and other leadership that was already on the team, elevating them to go run, and that's what I'm here for as a leader. I want to enable you and empower you. You know the goals, let's go. So that was a big one. That was, like I said, not easy, but the right thing to do for the business long term.

Blythe Brumleve: 29:52

So what did you prioritize in your marketing and what did you deprioritize?

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 29:56

So one of the things that we deprioritized was continuing to develop on and this is probably highly technical, sorry, but continuing to utilize a more antiquated tech stack, which was WordPress. For us, it doesn't meet the needs of our business and it doesn't allow us to scale as quickly as we needed to. So we added an additional engineering and product team that would support marketing and their needs, and so we've completely removed old tech stack or on a new tech stack at this point and I'm non-technical, I can't remember the name of the tech stack, but anyway, new tech stack and then we've added a lot of different tooling that allows for a lot more personalization and marketing, whether that is onsite personalization emails, et cetera, whether that is on-site personalization emails, et cetera, and I can kind of go on and on. There's a huge slew of things that we've added and we're still doing more.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:58

Yeah, I imagine that you know just a you know a kind of a year into the role that there are a lot of things that you want to tackle but you have to prioritize certain things over other things.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 31:07

Prioritize- yes, yes, I'm like okay, one thing at a time. You know, remember the size of the company we're around? You know 130 people and got to make sure that we're utilizing our resources accordingly. Oh yeah, prioritization is is necessary, and this year we have. I'm excited to say that we've onboarded a new chief technology officer. He's three weeks in and I'm super excited about the transformations that we're making there, again evolving our technology in order to deliver a better customer experience across the board.

Blythe Brumleve: 31:44

Because it kind of sounds like that you should. You know. You mentioned that it's been around for 20 years. I had no idea it had been around for that long, but it sounds like it's always been truly trying to enable a consumer or a business to locate find easily access capacity that meets their particular need to move that couch, or to move that crane or the car.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 32:21

what have you?

Blythe Brumleve: 32:23

And so I, with all the I guess the issues that go on in the full truckload space, over the road space, especially when it comes to like double brokering and fraud and things like that, that is the topic of conversation in like the 3PL world, I'm curious if that is maybe a topic of focus for your specific market as well, because it's so unique it is unique for your specific market as well, because it's so unique.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 32:51

It is unique. So for us, we have invested a lot over the years in our trust and safety mechanisms and tooling to help de-risk or mitigate against customers sorry, not customers, carriers or brokers coming onto our site and creating multiple accounts or even fabricating a business. Right, I mean, that's also a thing. So one of the areas that we're continuing investment and I'm really excited about new partnerships we're making here with one's a company called Trusted, to continue to uplevel the amount of certifications, verifications et cetera that carriers can opt into on our site, and so it's just upleveling the trust of the marketplace In terms of double brokering, certifications et cetera that carriers can opt into on our site, and so it's just up-leveling the trust of the marketplace In terms of double brokering.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 33:39

We don't contend with that a tremendous amount. It's much more popular. It happens a lot more with your traditional load boards that you might not have the level of authentication that you do on uShip. So we really are trying to ensure that if you are the business that you say you are, you have done all of your verifications, your checks et cetera to prove that, and then that allows you to play in the marketplace and we also have feedback ratings and reviews that are specifically tied to a transaction. You cannot leave feedback if you don't do a transaction on the uShip marketplace. So it really provides a level of authenticity and it's real. It's real. You can trust it.

Blythe Brumleve: 34:26

Yeah, I think that that's such a big, such a big issue in in just sort of the full truckload world and even you know, ltl, other other types of shipment, but traditional sort of load boards, as you were referencing. It is such a hot topic and everyone is is challenged with it and it's it's such an interesting platform that you have because you don't have to deal with any of that, because you have the proper systems already in place. And I imagine that happens when being in business for 20 years.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 34:50

Yes, and we also. We have not played in the full truckload space, I mean, and that's a really crowded space, that's not one that we've leaned into at all. And again, I think we've found our niche and our sweet spot in terms of all of the really unique and dynamic capacity. Think your box trucks, sprinter vans, ford F-150s, f-250s and fully enclosed trailers. That is the carrier base that you would see on uShip.

Blythe Brumleve: 35:21

What is the craziest thing you've ever seen shipped on your platform?

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 35:25

This is a really weird one, but it was real. It is real. Someone somewhere created a huge colon, like a model of a colon, and it needed to be moved to some form of a trade show that was obviously for doctors and that was a really odd one to see this massive colon. There's been so many that have been so funny, random. I think. Another one of my favorites is the customer that labeled their shipment, labeled it as evil doll and it was about a four foot high doll and it looked very. It looked so scary and it moved, but it was just one of those funniest things. It's like what is the story behind this doll? Why does it need to go across the country? What is happening?

Blythe Brumleve: 36:16

Do you want to know the answer to these questions? I'm not sure, but it should. And also, what kind of insurance is like. Okay, we'll, we'll, we'll cover the evil doll in the colon.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 36:28

So, yes, incredibly random, you know, one of a few other ones that were really interesting was a shipment between two Ripley's Believe it or Not locations. It was from New York to somewhere in Orlando, florida, and it was a horse made out of stainless steel bumpers old car bumpers, but it was a huge horse, super heavy. The transporter that did that one, he was actually featured on the show Shipping Wars and he found the load on uShip, yada, yada. But he had to build out like a frame to hold the horse intact to make sure it made it safely. So I'm telling you, these carriers on the platform, they are ingenious, they make it work, they make it happen, they make sure that it gets there safely.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:21

That's amazing and I imagine that that extra PR from a TV show probably helped a ton. Did you work out maybe an advertising deal with them or a partnership deal with them, or they just so?

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 37:33

that's also an interesting story and I can briefly say this because I don't know if a lot of people know the backstory. How did uShip end up being a part of Shipping Wars? So back to that office that I walked into with five guys. Well, there was another office that we eventually moved into, just across the hallway. It wasn't that much better, but it was a little bit bigger. But we shared office space with a production company, a really small production company in Austin, and the production company was just fascinated with what is going on over there.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 38:08

You guys are building technology. What is this Like? This is so cool. It would be amazing to create a reality TV series with you guys.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 38:15

Whatever you know, years go past and um storage wars became a huge hit production company. Um contacts us and says hey, we want to create shipping wars. Can we utilize you all to help find the right cast, like your actual carriers on your site? Can we run a casting call and then, secondarily, can we find these unique shipments that are on your platform and get these carriers to move them and we make a show around it.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 38:50

Reality TV is reality TV. That's what I've learned in all of this. I was never expected to add reality TV to my resume, nor to actually include it in my resume, but I did that. We worked very closely with that production company in launching that show and, you know, partnering with them to ensure that the shipping customers who were unknowingly like, yeah, I want to get my this item shipped it's like hey, would you like to be featured on this show? Here's what it is. So that became a job of an intern that worked under me was to help coordinate and curate that exchange and then getting them to work with the production company if they wished.

Blythe Brumleve: 39:35

But that's how that's a mission so how are you still working with that production company for the show, or is it so kind of a one season?

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 39:43

so it was it was actually uh, I'm going to get this wrong and I should know this. Um, I believe it was nine seasons, if not more. That show ran and there was also a show in the UK as well, because we have a site in the UK but so it's syndicated. So you still see reruns sometimes pop up and the you know the cast members on the show. You know they're people still ask like oh, do you stay in touch with them and you know things like that. And there's a couple that I do stay in touch with, but they've since retired or moved on to like many carriers do, to different professions after a while and because the industry is much more volatile in that regard.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:31

I mean I don't even know how to create like a proper segue from this. I mean, it was just such like an interesting conversation, a little side tale for us, but that's such an interesting part of the conversation that I didn't think that we would take. I am curious, switching gears a little bit, you mentioned that you've been a CEO for a year now. What has been the most challenging thing that you have learned from this role over the last year?

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 40:59

So taking on a first time CEO role in 2023 was very difficult, and if anyone in the freight world should understand what that means, so it was incredibly challenging, and so I would say that last year was defined for me. Grit, just hang in there. You know what it takes to run this business. You know what good looks like and the market will come back around and you just have to stand your ground. This is not something that I am directing the company to do wrong. That's resulting in, like a you know we're fighting hard to have, you know, a flat year kind of thing. Um it so it was just that conviction, and so I persevered that year. Um, you know, there were banking issues, people were going out of business, there was all these things happening, a lot of turmoil actually. So, yeah, that was a really tough like. Nothing is a walk in the park, nothing is a given. But just be confident in myself and know that good will come. Just stay focused on what you know you need to do. Don't lose sight.

Blythe Brumleve: 42:16

Yeah, absolutely. I wasn't sure if maybe the same sort of market conditions that are affecting you know sort of the other parts of logistics and truckload freight, if those same things were impacting you guys as well and your carriers and your customers, and it kind of sounds like it is.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 42:30

Definitely, I think, interest rates being where they are still, but that plus inflation, it just disrupted consumer buying behavior in general and while, as well as cars one of the things that we ship a lot of, the used car prices are incredibly high, so that also impacted buying behavior. Then you couple that with higher interest rates and then it's a world of hurt. But you start looking at it category by category and you see similar trends. I mean even business customers that are integrated with us to facilitate their moves, in furniture predominantly, their businesses are also off. It all comes back to that consumer buying behavior. The housing market, you name it, it all kind of trickles down. It was a really tough year.

Blythe Brumleve: 43:23

Well, what about, on maybe the more positive side of things, what has been the most rewarding of the first year as CEO?

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 43:31

Goodness. There's so many shining moments that I'm proud of, and I think the the biggest thing for me was the. Our attrition rate in terms of um company turn, or just turnover, was the lowest it's ever been, and that was yes, you could say well, the market was volatile, so people are just holding onto their jobs, but I take that as a really big win. I am an unproven CEO. I've proven myself at this company, but the fact that I've been able to keep and maintain the hearts, the minds, the conviction of so many in this organization and get them refocused and embracing the way forward, the way I'm going to be running this business, I think is massive and I'm super proud of that.

Blythe Brumleve: 44:26

Now they said that the first I'd heard of you, ship, you know, obviously with working in logistics for a long time, but I was at the Manifest Conference earlier this year and I wanted to bring up your booth because it was the most incredible thing I've ever seen. If you're just listening, I'm sorry, I'll explain it to you in just a little bit. But your booth, it was just so cool to be able to see that kind of representation for women at a logistics conference. So so can you give us the backstory of how maybe this booth display came to be Absolutely?

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 45:10

So, first of all, the audio. When you clicked like, your audio went off and so it was the audio from the actual trade show. So I think people missed what this was, but I'm happy to describe it, so please do. I spoke on a panel and the panel was it talked about ugly freight and what does that even mean? It's just a quippy way to say it's difficult. A colon yeah, it's difficult. I mean carriers typically say mean, it's just a quippy way to say it's difficult. A colon no, it's difficult. I mean carriers typically say, oh, that's just ugly freight, let's just. Can I get something else? You know what it's the difficult freight, but it's still important, very important shipments that need to be moved.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 45:49

So we um, we did a kind of, we played off of that and we had a style studio and so, yes, a lot of females used it and I was so pleased to see that I would hope more guys would take advantage of a little beard trim or whatever. But I think they might have been a little bit like wait, is this for me, I don't know Like, yes, self-care, let's do this, you got it. But it was a play on ugly freight and so the style studio was cleaning you up. There was makeup, there was hair stylist, like I said, men's hair trims and then manicures as well. So it was really fun. It was a great way to have conversations, because people are there taking care of themselves and you can. You know, let's talk about your freight needs as well. It worked. It worked nicely.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:42

Yeah, I was so bummed because I discovered it, I think, on the like within four or five hours of the trade show floor closing for the final day, because it really is only open for two full days, and so you know typical conferences you're running around like a chicken with your head cut off.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:57

But when I discovered it I was like, oh my God, I could have saved so much time if I could have just came here in the morning and just gotten ready.

Blythe Brumleve: 47:04

It just had everybody, you know sort of cater to it. And also, I think that you hit the nail on the head with the conversations, because the conversations that happen whether you're in, like the barbershop chair or the hair salon chair, those are the conversations that I think really connect us, and so the prioritization on that at a logistics event was really really cool to see, because I mean, I don't have to tell you this that you know, obviously we work in a male dominated industry and a lot of these things are catered to men, and to see something catered to a woman was it felt like, wow, we have really crossed that level where it's no longer like the joke of, oh, the shorter bathroom line for women that I would say all the time like, oh, it's great going to logistics conferences because I don't have to wait in the bathroom line for very long, but now we are getting you know that additional recognition.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 47:56

And it feels so good and it's amazing. We are seen and, and still I mean I'm typically the token female in the room and like when we're, you know, going to visit partners, so on and so forth. It doesn't bother me at all. I'm so proud of the evolution since I first started in this industry A long time ago.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 48:22

We went to a show or participated in a show called the Great American Trucking Show. This was around the time we were also supporting shipping wars, so it was much more meaningful for us to be there. And there was the first year that they did a women in trucking lunch and that was like a really big deal and I just thought that was so, so interesting, because I was like this is funny to me, there was no one there, I mean, other than like 10 people. It was. It was really tiny, but it was great. And then to to be able to go to manifest this year, have that booth, have that thing that's really focused on bringing in women this is for everyone and then to also have a women's lunch there. That was a really amazing event as well at Manifest. So seeing that much more consistently makes me very happy. We've progressed.

Blythe Brumleve: 49:15

Yes, absolutely, and I hope to see this booth space again. I don't know if that's your plans, but I hope maybe we can influence it a little bit and put that out into the world that I hope to see this booth space again so I can properly plan this time to take full advantage of it. Last couple of questions here. You're very passionate about encouraging women in logistics. What advice would you give to maybe a woman that's already working in logistics who wants to level up, wants to get to that CEO level role?

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 49:51

Yeah, I would say the biggest thing to me is that I don't just don't discount yourself, and I know I personally am someone that does a lot of negative self-talk. That's a lot of things I have to overcome. I frankly think it helps, it's made me better and push myself further. But don't discount yourself. I mean, even I'm also a mother and constantly I'm just like, oh gosh, am I, can I do this? Am I even supposed to do this? Because I am trying to play in a world where it's typical for you know, man comes into work, gets his job done and you don't have to think about they're, not thinking about everything else.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 50:36

Now, frankly, I have to say I'm in a relationship where it's very supportive and we balance, but that is one thing where, depending upon your circumstance, you know kids, no kids family, whatever. Don't discount the fact that you may be oh, do I have enough time, energy, motivation to be able to do it all? If you want to do it, do it. You figure out the rest and the great people that you surround yourself with will be supportive of that as well. And that's what's the most important thing to me is the team behind you, the team supporting you and ensuring that they are strong players and they're going to help carry weight when they need to carry weight for you, that they're fighting as hard as you're fighting, because if it's just you doing it alone, you're doing something wrong.

Blythe Brumleve: 51:30

That's such a great piece of advice, and I'm glad you brought up the imposter syndrome aspect, because I don't know that it ever. It's never gone away for me, and I deal with a lot of negative self-talk as well, and I it's challenging at times. So it's, I guess, refreshing to hear that, even if you're at the highest level, that somebody else is experiencing that as well.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 51:53

Absolutely. I mean, and that's in anything. Sometimes, when I try to make a fancy meal, I'm like, why am I attempting this? I have, I'm not truly a child. It's like, what am I doing? But I think I can pull it off. But no, I mean, it's always, always something, even the most minuscule thing to the most challenging thing. It's like, oh you're here, you did that, you persevered, let's go the most challenging thing.

Blythe Brumleve: 52:17

It's like oh, you're here, you did that, you persevered, let's go Awesome. Yeah, I love that. I would say sort of a final question what do you feel is important to mention? Maybe about yourself, maybe about the uShip platform that you feel is important to mention but we haven't already talked about? Maybe AI? I can't believe we made it this long without talking about AI. I'm surprised too.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 52:34

Well, I mean I'm 50 minutes into this conversation.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 52:37

I mean AI has been.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 52:39

I will talk about that because it is a very, very important aspect of what we are working on today.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 52:46

I mean you ship 20 years, 20 years of data, 20 years of collecting, if you will, registering carrier capacity, unique carrier capacity and understanding what it costs to ship a colon, what it costs to ship a crane, etc.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 53:07

So what we are embarking on and really diving into more and more is how do we utilize all of the data that we have collected to make a better experience, a more streamlined experience for customers shipping customers as well as carriers. So that's something that you'll continue to see product updates and launches that, in the back end, rely upon machine learning as well as AI tooling to provide a much more streamlined experience, even with support, like we utilize AI in tremendous ways there to either create content, to respond to customers, etc. And the technology has become so much more advanced, even in the last two years more advanced even in the last two years, so much more advanced that you really can't tell is this a human speaking to me or messaging me, rather, or is this an AI tool, but just utilizing all of our information and data again to create a solid experience in a very streamlined and efficient way.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:16

Yeah, it's definitely been amazing to watch the use cases, because there's you know, of course there's going to be people that sort of they're almost like doomerism about it. You know that just utilizing AI and it's like no, you really need to need to understand your customers, which you clearly do. You need to understand your processes, which you clearly do, and then figure out how technology plays a role. And for a 20 year old company, with all of the data that you have, I'm sure there's so much learning that you can extrapolate from that information and then provide healthier salute or not healthier solutions, but more streamlined solutions to your customers when they want it Exactly, exactly.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 54:52

It's like why am I asking this customer a question that I already know the answer to? Because other customers have told us that answer based upon, like a weight of an item or what have you? Just to try to get to the answer faster. Get to the market clearing price faster. Get to the right carrier faster. How do we utilize all of that accordingly? So that's what I'm most excited about, and continuing to chip away at that, because there's so much possibility there. And on the other side, it creates better sustainability, better business sustainability. A carrier is not having to spend as much time putting together loads. They're able to filter much more stream in a seamless manner so that they can get to the loads that meet their needs as quickly as possible. And you could apply that to other you know use cases as well. But business sustainability overall, like sustainability in terms of carbon offsets and everything all of that ties together, and I think AI is is the game changer that's really going to help help us and many other businesses evolve in the right way.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:58

Gosh, that's perfectly said and I have. I typically, off to the side, I write down timestamps of really good quotes that we can use in the social media distribution and I have run out of space on my post-it notes of all the gems that you dropped during this conversation. So I appreciate your, your, your time, heather, and your, your perspective and sharing your story with everyone. Where can folks follow you, follow your work, you know, get, get connected with you. Ship all that good stuff.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 56:25

So, uh, you can find me on LinkedIn, um, under Heather Hoover- Salomon. Um, I'm pretty active on there, sharing lots of updates about not only the uShip business, but about the industry in general, what we're seeing. So, yeah, that's the best place to find me. In terms of uShip, we are www. uship. com. You can find us on all the social media platforms as well.

Blythe Brumleve: 56:50

Awesome. I mean, it is a great URL to our great domain name. So it's also one of those things where it's like ease, it's very easy to spell and it's only four letters, right, five letters, so awesome, well, perfect. Thank you again, heather. And we'll be sure to put links in the show notes to all of those different locations so people can find you easily and also find the e-ship. So thank you again for sharing your story, absolutely.

Heather Hoover-Salomon: 57:14

Thank you so much for having me. It's been great.

Blythe Brumleve: 57:20

I hope you enjoyed this episode of Everything is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. Subscribe to the show, sign up for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everythingislogisticscom. And, in addition to the podcast, I also for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everythingislogisticscom. And in addition to the podcast, I also wanted to let y'all know about another company I operate and that's Digital Dispatch, where we help you build a better website Off to a co-worker's child, a neighbor down the street or a stranger around the world, where you probably spend more time explaining the freight industry than it takes to actually build the dang website.

Blythe Brumleve: 58:02

Well, that doesn't happen at Digital Dispatch. We've been building online since 2009, but we're also early adopters of AI, automation and other website tactics that help your company to be a central place to pull in all of your social media posts, recruit new employees and give potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business. Our new website builds start as low as $1,500, along with ongoing website management, maintenance and updates starting at $90 a month, plus some bonus freight marketing and sales content similar to what you hear on the podcast. You can watch a quick explainer video over on digitaldispatchio. Just check out the pricing page once you arrive and you can see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'll see you all real soon and go Jags.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.