Small Business Stories: TJD Trucking

A Family Business Sets Its Sights on Agency Contracts

Company Name TJD Trucking

Owners: Latasha and Jamar Dotson

Based in: Windsor Hills, Los Angeles, CA

Industry: Earth-moving, Transportation

We’re spending time with participants and partners from Metrolink’s Small Business Partnership Program to understand the challenges and opportunities facing small businesses in Southern California today. Our hope is that this series will help entrepreneurs gain insight into the SBPP program, find support in the experiences of their fellow entrepreneurs, and increase access to the resources that will help them succeed long term.

Meet the husband/wife team behind TJD Trucking

We recently spoke to Latasha and Jamar Dotson, founders and operators of TJD Trucking based in Los Angeles to discuss how they have their sights set on fulfilling agency contracts as a way to help grow their business. When we caught up with the duo on a busy Thursday afternoon, Tasha was manning the office, and Jamar was able to join us via headset from inside the cab of one of TJD’s Super 10 Dump Trucks. 

We were impressed by their level of enthusiasm, knowledge and the positive, can-do spirit they seem to apply to every level of their company. We learned what it’s like to run a dump-truck business and what the day-to-day entails in a highly competitive, often uncertain industry.

25 years on the road, and counting

In 2019, Jamar, who has 25 years of trucking experience, and Tasha, who has an administrative background, decided to start their own trucking company. TJD Trucking now hauls material on private and public construction projects all over LA and surrounding counties. The size of large, private and public construction projects usually requires the coordinated assistance of multiple trucking service and equipment providers.

TJD trucking is one of thousands of different businesses that provide a valuable service within a chain of subcontractors. Tasha explains that:

“Any prime contractor or subcontractor that needs to haul earth materials in or out of a job site will typically need to hire a third party truck broker to haul it for them. If a contractor requests more trucks than the truck broker has within its own fleet, it will need to subcontract out to owner-operators to fulfill the demand. That’s us. That’s where we are right now. Our aim is to become the broker.”

TJD is currently operating as a sub-contractor working a few levels below the prime in a contract. “We are actually 4th tier,” Tasha explains, “where we have to pay a broker fee of up to 10% which can really dig into our profit.” While a very young company by industry standards, Tasha and Jamar’s combined experience means they are ready to take on a bigger piece of the project pie, but they need to build their infrastructure. That’s where SBPP comes in. Made aware of the program by a neighbor, Tasha and Jamar recently joined the pilot program to gain guidance and build the network they need to shift gears into brokering their own contracts directly. 

While companies like TJD perform a vital service and are able to take advantage of numerous opportunities that agency jobs provide, working as a subcontractor to other brokers means their work schedule is “on-demand” and comes with its own set of challenges. Tasha and Jamar explain that this kind of work is often dispatched the night before, creating a level of uncertainty for their business and subjecting them to a “daily grind” of figuring out where their next job will come from.

Currently, Tasha spends one to two hours an evening lining up work for her fleet for the next day. They are hoping to eliminate this challenge by winning contracts themselves, which will mean access to steady work that they can count on. Looking for additional resources, they were excited to learn that SBPP was open to local small businesses in a broad range of industries.

Ready to Take the Next Step

“We are ready to take the next step in our business and start brokering jobs which means bidding on jobs, winning them and cutting out the middle man.” -Tasha, TJD Trucking.

TJD Trucking, like so many other small businesses, has indispensable knowledge and expertise in a specific field that comes from years of experience working in their chosen industry. They needed support as they navigate this next phase of growth. For TJD, the free resources offered by Metrolink’s Small Business Partnership Program is a way to help accelerate their path to becoming a full-time broker. SBPP is specifically designed to support small businesses operating within Metrolink’s six-county service area by increasing their access to opportunity, technical training, and capital.

TJD enrolled in the Metrolink Small Business Partnership Program with the goal of becoming more competitive to win agency contracts. They explain that winning an agency contract will mean a level of demonstrated consistency often hard to nail for small operators in their industry.  “Knowing where my trucks are going a month out will make all the difference,” says Jamar. “Having that consistency is the main goal for me.”

Growing A Strong Network

In the last more than two decades on the road, Jamar has built solid relationships within the industry, and reinforces those everyday as he represents TJD at job sites. To grow their business, Tasha and Jamar know they need to develop relationships with procurement officers and project managers that are not necessarily on site. Tasha explains that another primary reason TJD Trucking joined Metrolink’s SBPP was to network and grow relationships that may open doors to new contracts.

“I’m hoping to connect to prime and sub contractors on a more personal level. I believe Metrolink’s SBPP can help us accomplish that.”

“The Sky Is the Limit”

For businesses like TJD Trucking, accessing opportunities that currently fall to more established, legacy businesses can be difficult. Jamar adds that: We want to build a rapport with prime contractors and subcontractors. It’s time to give the small guy a shot.”

When asked about their five-year goals, Jamar responds “The Sky’s the Limit.”

Tasha raises her hands in the air and says, “Be the biggest truck broker in Southern California!” They both smile, and she explains, “I’ve been working on manifesting the future.” They anticipate that access to larger agency contracts will give them the opportunity they need to grow the business and continue to hire staff. They are both confident in their ability to fulfill these larger contracts, Jamar explains:

“We have a network of 50-75 trucks that we can call in Los Angeles. If they see there is work with TJD trucking, they will come running… I see myself moving into the office and putting a driver in place and becoming a business owner rather than an owner-operator setup. We want to be in a position to help out the community and help our friends out. We know people who can get the job done–let’s give them gainful employment.”

Connecting Small Business to Opportunity

Metrolink created the new Small Business Partnership Program out of an ongoing commitment to connect the people, businesses, and communities of Southern California to greater opportunity. The goal of the program is to address the needs of local small businesses by providing them with free access to loans, bonding, and training that will allow them to best compete for agency contracts.

Upon completing the program requirements, participants will receive a “contract ready” designation in the agency procurement database and have access to special set asides, local preference points, bond & insurance relief, and prompt payment.

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