Spotlight on Marcia Faschingbauer
By Kyle Beam, GHPB
Hard work and long hours are things Marcia Faschingbauer, President and CEO of Excargo Services, does not shy away from. Marcia has been working hard her entire life. Starting at her father’s food packing service, to now owning Excargo. Marcia has spent years building a reputation in the Houston community as a business leader and advocate of the American dream.
Marcia’s path to success began as a teenager, Marcia worked at her father’s food packing company, First Prize Foods, where they packaged dried beans and rice. Under her father, Marcia said, she learned “how important it was for the food to be clean,” as well as properly packed and secure to ensure it reached the customer. Marcia’s first experiences at First Prize Foods gave her an early taste of the value of the customer service experience to the customer.
Her knowledge of the customer service experience grew more after she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and joined the family’s business full time. During Marcia’s time in college, the family business transitioned to the second generation after the death of her father in her junior year. Now being run by her brother and sister, Marcia oversaw the logistics of the company as Traffic Manager.
As Traffic Manager, Marcia saw the grocery industry undergo many changes in Houston as the city grew and became a major market. “The grocery business changed from small independent, family-owned stores to national chains, such as Kroger and Safeway,” Marcia said. The increase of national chains into Houston meant fewer customers for the transportation companies to compete for, and the need for premium customer service rose to the forefront.
Having premium customer service during this time was a problem for Marcia and First Prize Foods. The transportation companies were not reliable. Containers were damaged, trucks were late, communication was lacking and customers were becoming dissatisfied. With no change coming on the horizon, Marcia decided to make a change and do something herself.
Excargo is Born
Marcia formed Excargo Services in 1979 to combat all of the problems she was facing with First Prize Foods. “Excargo was modeled after my experiences as Traffic Manager,” Marcia said. She added, the key to making Excargo work in the beginning was the communication with the drivers and making sure the deliveries were made on time. Technology has been vital to accomplishing this. Excargo was one of the first drayage companies to have two-way radios in all of their trucks. The radios gave customers the ability to track shipments and be prepared for a delivery. This was a major technological advancement at the time, and helped Excargo establish itself as a leader in customer service.
Marcia doesn’t feel Excargo is in the transportation business. “We feel we are in the service business; getting it right is important to us,” she said. Getting it right helped Excargo immensely in the beginning because they gained two major clients within their first five years in business - Uncle Ben’s ® Rice and Sysco Corp.
Success in a Man’s World
Success in the business world has not always come easy for Marcia. The 1980s were trying times to be in business in Houston. The oil market crashed and many people lost their jobs across the city. New industry was not moving to the city and it was hard to break in to existing industries. But, for Marcia, these were easy things to overcome. What was not easy was overcoming her own gender.
When signing in for conferences or signing other documents used outside of Excargo, Marcia explained, “I used my initials signing my name early on,” to hide the fact she was a woman. When people found out she was a woman, Marcia said there was more pressure on her to know her stuff. Unlike the men, Marcia could not turn to her colleagues in the industry because she was excluded from the good ol’ boy system of learning. She was forced to learn on her own so she began a journey to national educational and industry opportunities. She served as a charter member and chair of American Trucking Association’s (ATA) Intermodal Council where she met lifelong mentors and friends. This eventually led to credibility which opened doors for Marcia locally.
Marcia points to a few other things that have helped her gain the trust and credibility of men in the business. She started by listening to the concerns of her own drivers. “I feel I’ve been able to be collaborative and talk through things with my male drivers,” she said. Marica also happens to enjoy hunting, fishing, golf and going to Houston Rockets games, which help her fit in with her male counterparts.
When Marcia was getting started things may not have always been easy, but the hard work and perseverance she put in paid off. Today, she is respected for all of her accomplishments. “I ignore the challenges, redefining them to opportunity” Marcia said, and she takes pride when she goes to conferences and sees more women in logistics, when there was a time she was the only one.
Excargo Services does not look the same as it did when Marcia first founded the company over 30 years ago. What started with just a few trucks owned by the company has shifted to an Owner-Operator driver system with 78 drivers and growing. The trucks are no longer tracked using two-way radios, now they are equipped with high-tech GPS trackers that can be accessed from anywhere on a computer. Log books stacking up in filing cabinets for every driver are now a thing of a past. Excargo became one of the first drayage companies in the industry to shift to electronic log books, recorded on tablets, in every truck ahead of a mandate, which becomes effective in December 2017, requiring all drivers to maintain electronic logs. The company has also shifted away from exclusively moving food products and broadened their client base to include companies transporting petrochemicals, retail, alcohol and household goods. Marcia credits this growth to her outstanding team, the growing export market and the support of the Port of Houston.
Without the quality of our port, Marcia says, Excargo would not be where they are today. “We’re very lucky because we have a great relationship with our port,” she said. According to Marcia, the accessibility of the port’s leadership to every aspect, not just the maritime players, to the decision making process has been a fundamental reason why the industry has grown.
Along with the growth of the industry in the region, an increase in intermodal freight transport has boosted Excargo’s business. The “growth and volume has created new challenges for a business like ours,” Marcia said. But she and her team have been up to the challenge.
The last few years has seen Excargo undergo an expansion. Opening expanded transloading services, along with existing locations in Houston, Pasadena and Orange, to better reach out across the entire state of Texas. The continuing expansion has also led to an increase in the number of employees, which has presented Marcia with her greatest challenge.
“It is tough to find experienced talent that is knowledgeable about international intermodal and who share our passion for customer service,” Marcia said. She points to many reasons behind this, chief among them a driver shortage. The average age of a truck driver is in their 50s and many of the drivers are leaving the workforce to go to new industries or retiring. Adding new drivers to the industry has proved to be challenging because of an increase in regulations on the trucking industry. Requirements on drivers having a basic understanding of reading and writing in English, along with a new written based Commercial Driver License (CDL) test has limited the potential Latin American employment base that once existed. The intensified safety scoring system, CSA, and the TWIC card requirements have further reduced truck driver numbers. The popular emphasis on a college education to be successful has steered high school graduates away from trucking. But Marcia hopes a renewed push in the value of community college and technical jobs will revamp the industry with new talent. “You don’t have to have a four year degree; you have to have a path out of poverty,” Marcia said.
Looking to the Future
With over 30 years of experience and accomplishments in the business, one would think there would be nothing left for Marcia to do, but you would be wrong. Coming into work every day and seeing the people she has impacted brings her joy. She touts her greatest accomplishment as being the jobs she has created and seeing the people in those jobs and their families succeed. When she is talking about her drivers a wide smile always comes across her face, especially recounting the times drivers have called just to tell her thank you. The same thing happens when Marcia talks about her customers. “It makes me happy getting feedback from my customers,” she said.
She looks to keep expanding Excargo to reach more customers. Excargo is anticipating and preparing for the opening of the Port of Houston Authority’s refrigerated container terminal, which she expects will bring an increase in business. Along with preparing for future business, Marcia is preparing for the future of Excargo without her. She says her greatest hope for the future is “seeing someone else running this business.” But this doesn’t mean she is ready to step down yet.
Marcia is still heavily involved in the community through business and charitable organizations. In August, she will become chairman of the Texas Trucking Association (TXTA), a trade association dedicated to promoting the trucking industry in Texas, where she will work with the TXTA to actively try to fix some of the problems in the industry. Along with her work in the TXTA, Marcia is hoping to be able to encourage young people to get involved in the trucking industry, and she praises what groups like TXTA and colleges that have new training and educational programs to better prepare people entering the industry. To this end, she currently serves on Houston Community College Foundation’s board.
Because of the programs, “there are more opportunities for young people to get involved in all sides of the business,” Marcia said. She credits this to the industry taking a more engineering approach to training and education. But she cautions the industry is not for everyone. “Most areas of logistics can be very demanding. Business does not stop at five,” she said. If people are looking at entering the logistics business, Marcia tells people to truly consider their passion for it and to try a few different areas through internships before deciding a specific area to enter. And most importantly, she said, “to realize everyone puts their pants on the same way,” and everyone is there to work together.
Working together with her employees at Excargo Services is something Marcia looks to do for years to come. She is still not afraid of hard work. She has been doing it her entire life. She is proud to say she is not far from the “American Dream” and as the work goes on at Excargo she hopes others can benefit from that dream as well.
- Date May 10, 2016
- Tags May 2016