In this article for Business Innovators Magazine, Joseph Land shares his story talking about his humble beginnings to his success today.
“Today I want to give you just a little bit of an introduction as to who I am and how I grew up and what my story is. And so, you know, a lot of times people look at someone who’s had a measure of business success, and they think, well, maybe he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Well, I want to tell you categorically, that’s not me. I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth, lol, and, you know, I’ve had to work for everything I’ve gotten. I’ve enjoyed every second of it. I grew up in a small town in South Carolina and I had great parents.
My father had a fifth-grade education. He was brilliant with math and could do and fix anything. However, with a fifth-grade education, because he grew up when times were tough, and he had to provide for his own family and did not have a lot of advantages. My father worked in a textile mill and my mother was a homemaker. And so, we didn’t have a lot of luxuries, but we had all the things we needed.
I believe that growing up in this way, fueled me to become successful and to fight for what I believed in, and to provide for my family – the things that I didn’t have. You might be listening to this. You might be saying, gosh, I feel exactly the same way that he does.
Growing up, I had a great mom and dad, two beautiful, wonderful sisters who were older than me and who were role models in my life. Growing up, my dad said, “you’re a great athlete. You know, you could really be something special if you worked at it.” At a young age, I became determined that I wanted to play professional baseball because I knew that would provide the things for my family and my parents, and for my future family that I dreamed of.
I started working on baseball and I became really good at it. A lot of times the “dream robber” comes along when you’re working on your dream. And so it was no different with me. People would say, “Hey, nobody from our town ever made the big leagues and you’re not going to do it either.”
Well, they really don’t mean anything by that. That’s just what they know how to say. I never paid them any attention. As my father said, “they’ve never done anything, so don’t pay them any attention and stay focused.” I kept training day in and day out. One day the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted me, to play professional baseball. All those people who were telling me, I couldn’t do it was all of a sudden saying, “Oh, we knew you were going to do it.” Amazing how your persistence changes things!
The Dodgers at the time and still are, one of the top clubs in Major League Baseball. I thought this is amazing. I’ve accomplished my dream. Before I could really get going with it, I tore my rotator cuff. Back then a torn rotator was a devastating injury. And my career was over before it even got started. Kind of ironic how life turns out; today I sit on the Board of Directors of a company that manufactures devices for the repair of torn rotator cuffs.
With this injury, I was depressed and discouraged. How am I going to provide for my family? And I’m sure you’ve had some of those kinds of thoughts in your life. One day I decided: I’m not going to wallow in my misery. I’m not going to feel sorry for myself. I’m going to get up and find another Dream.
And I did. I decided that I was going to get into the transportation business. I borrowed $50,000, and I went to Florida, lived in a 26-foot travel trailer at a campground. I couldn’t even afford to rent a house. And I started my transportation company, my new Dream. Now talking about broke. I don’t know if you’ve ever been broke in your life but I was so broke I couldn’t pay attention. That’s pretty broke, isn’t it? But I had a dream – and so I’d go to my little Truckstop office every day and work. And I was scared. Oh man, I was so scared, but I had a dream, and I knew I had to do something for my family. I remember taking my lunch to work and, in order to eat it, I had to put the phones on hold for a while and just close my eyes for a few minutes, just to catch my breath and, and go again. My new transportation model was disruptive in the industry, and it continues to be so today 40 years later. The model I started in Florida is still being used today. Seeking the freight directly from the company that is buying the products and who is ultimately paying the freight bill anyway. I had $50,000 and after, three weeks or a month or so I was out of money. And if you don’t have any money, you don’t have a business. I heard of this company that was financing accounts receivables, for a line of credit. I called and gave the President my business plan and he was actually rude to me. I said to him, I just need somebody to believe in me and he interrupted, I’m sorry, we can’t help you, click. That rejection just started eating at me and I said, he didn’t even give me a chance to explain my business. I said to myself, no one is going to steal my Dream; I’m going to go see him in person. I knew I had a great business plan, and I would not be denied.
At the time, I had an old Pontiac station wagon with fake wood plastic siding and poor tires. I decided to drive in my car from Florida to Atlanta, Georgia, a 10-hour drive at night, and I took a sport coat, shirt to look presentable. I slept in my car, (listen carefully) I slept in my car because I could not afford a room. I wake up the next morning in time to shave and shower and put on my shirt and tie at a truck stop. And at eight o’clock in the morning, I’m sitting in the office of the financial people that I’m trying to get a line of credit from who have already told me, NO the previous day! I am 25 years old, scared and confident at the same time, and have nothing to lose. That takes Moxy!