Few people think about what happens after they click "buy now" on Amazon, but for Leonard Wright, the job of getting a delivery from one point to the other is his life.
"The future is bright for us," Wright said as he stood amid a room full of dispatchers at Inpax Shipping Solutions. "Last year we had a record-breaking year of $43 million in revenue."
Millions of dollars and countless packages pass through Inpax's small headquarters in an industrial park south of Atlanta, close to a busy freight railroad and the world's busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson International. A small army of workers track deliveries in real time and sort packages for final delivery, including Wright's three daughters.
When asked by CBS 46's Sharon Reed whether he likes to work with his children or he wants to pull his hair out, Wright laughs.
"Pull my hair out. But it's fun. They enjoy it. They look up to me and they want to keep this business going for years to come."
RECESSION AND STUPIDITY
Millions of dollars in revenue and partnerships with the likes of Amazon came only after Wright failed not once, but twice as a business owner.
"I was young and stupid," Wright remarked as he recalled being a business owner in 1999, at the age of 30. "It was hiring friends, buddies, partying in Buckhead all weekend."
He regrouped, studied business at Dartmouth College, and began a new company with the lessons he learned. Wright said his business began to grow through the early 2000s, until the recession abruptly halted that growth in 2009 by depriving him of the money and the customers he and his employees needed.
After making a difficult decision to downsize to just eight people, Wright recalled the moment his remaining employees walked into his office.
"They said 'We believe in you. We know you can figure something out, and you can make this work again,'" Wright said before pausing for a moment in his office. "That put tears in my eyes. I went home and prayed on it and said 'You know, I've got to go for it.'"
Going for it was just as risky. Wright told his remaining employees that, in order to get Inpax back on its feet, everyone would not be paid for one month, in order to build up the money necessary to keep the business alive. His self-described "soul searching" paid off within a year for himself and the employees who were paid for that one month.
"SCARY AND SOMEWHAT SAD"
As an African-American business owner in shipping and logistics, Wright admits he stands out at trade shows where the only other people who share his skin color are not fellow business owners, which he described as "scary and somewhat sad."
"There may be an African-American salesperson there or an operating person, but not an owner."
Wright even hesitated to present himself as the owner of his own company, going so far as to omit his own job title from his business cards because he feared he would be shunned while trying to sign new business deals across the southern United States. However, after several years, Wright decided to not hide his role in the company he founded.
"I'm going to be proud to be a black company, so CEO and President are on all of my cards."
THE PAST AND THE FUTURE
On an overcast morning, Wright walked down a street in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward neighborhood and approached a simple two-story home once owned by John Wesley Dobbs, a political and civil rights leader whose name now graces the street where he lived.
"I came to Atlanta, and with guys like him who had paved the way, gave me this opportunity," Wright said as he and CBS 46's Sharon Reed discussed the changes in the Old Fourth Ward over the past 20 years.
Dobbs, a major figure in Atlanta's civil rights movement, was a U.S. postal clerk who used his own influence to encourage fellow African-Americans to register to vote. By the end of the 1930s, Atlanta's voter rolls included around 20,000 such voters who backed the man known as the unofficial mayor of Sweet Auburn, the city's historic black neighborhood.
"I imagine John Wesley Dobbs is proud to see what he's done and how he's paved the way for this community to come back and be rebuilt," Wright said as he looked around the neighborhood.
Later in the day, as Wright sat in his office, he thought about the future of Inpax without him as the president and CEO. Though his daughters work for him, Wright acknowledged he was also "grooming" another employee to possibly take the reigns. He paused as he thought about the type of person he wanted to eventually replace him.
"I would be encouraged if it was an African-American. I would embrace that," Wright said after a long pause. "I want that to happen because I would like to see an African-American company continue to grow and be able to say I was a part of that."
"That would be big for me."
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