Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about ITS and the duties of your position.
Mike Crawford: ITS is a third-party logistics company based here in northern Nevada that offers warehouse and distribution services, dedicated asset based trucking, and brokerage and transportation management services. I’m general manager of the brokerage company called ITS National, which is under the umbrella of ITS Logistics companies. At ITS National we move freight nationwide for a variety of different type of customers and shippers utilizing our trucking relationships within our network. We have 21 employees and are a sales intensive operation on the front end and pride ourselves on an extremely high level of service and back end operations.
NNBW: How did you get in this position?
Crawford: In between football seasons in college (UNR), I worked in Alaska as a delivery driver and warehouse associate in the air freight business. Once I retired after 4 years of football (2 with the Miami Dolphins, 1 year with the Minnesota Vikings, and 1 year in the XFL) I got into real estate and banking for about 8 years. I had always maintained a passion for logistics and transportation — it’s a great business! In 2010, after selling my mortgage banking company for pennies on the dollar, I found my opportunity and helped start a freight forwarding operation here in Reno for an out-of-state company and soon became the Branch Manager. While I was working on a government transportation project, I needed a trucking company to partner with. I had seen the ITS trucks and heard great things about the company so I called and introduced myself. We collaborated but didn’t end up winning the government project. During the process, I got to know the ITS management and ownership and it became clear this company was going places and I wanted to be a part of it. I started as an Account Executive in April 2012, and was promoted to General Manager in February 2013.
NNBW: What do you enjoy most about working in your field?
Crawford: Being a former college and pro athlete, the transportation business translates very well. We are competitive and athletes excel because they are used to seeing instant results from their preparation and performance. Say a customer has a need like the Crescent Dunes project we completed — ‘Hey, I need to move 2,000 truckloads of hazmat fertilizer from LA to Tonopah within a 2-month time frame, and coordinated every day. We solved it and made it happen. It’s that instant gratification; it’s very tangible and very fast paced. It’s the most important industry that people don’t think about.
NNBW: What is the most challenging part of your job?
Crawford: It’s a 24-7 type of business. You have to be there for customers. It’s also rewarding, but can be challenging. I have three young kids. I’ll be at say a soccer game and something comes up. Fortunately, I have an understanding wife who knows the gig.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Crawford: Washing dishes and everything else at my mom’s restaurant starting when I was in 3rd grade. It’s hard work. You really learn customer service in that business.
NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to get into your field?
Crawford: It’s a great career to get into and everything has to get shipped. Start at the ground level so you understand the basics, which allow you to progress into the complexities of the business which are also the most rewarding.
NNBW: What are your hobbies? How do you spend your time away from work?
Crawford: I like to fly fish and snowboard. Those are probably my two main hobbies. I’m an adrenaline junkie. I do yoga and also teach indoor cycling at my wife and I’s studio, Full Pedal.
NNBW: Favorite vacation spot?
Crawford: I’d say Montana which I usually get to once a year. I grow my beard out, shower in the river and sleep outside under the stars with a campfire and not many around.
NNBW: If you had one moment in time to cherish for the rest of your life, what was it and why?
Crawford: The day I got drafted into the NFL was one. The day my brother got into med school was great, getting married, my kids being born all standout. I have had a great life so far! Probably one of my coolest memories was the (1996) Vegas Bowl (against Ball State). You hear about athletes being in the zone. You couldn’t stop me that night. You couldn’t block me. I had 21 tackles, 3 sacks, and an interception to seal the victory. (Crawford was named the game’s Most Valuable Player). If I had to pick one memory that would probably be it. It was my last game in college, and as a walk-on kid from South Lake Tahoe, I didn’t know if I would ever get a chance to play again. That could’ve been the last football game I ever played in. To go out like that was cool, all my brothers on the field.
NNBW: Last concert or sporting event?
Crawford: UNR football game, and before that — the Iditarod Race in Alaska. Women and men racing with their dogs across 1,200 miles of frozen Alaska in solitude. It’s a unique experience to be part of.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming as a kid?
Crawford: I wanted to play professional sports. I don’t quite think it was football. I wasn’t dead set on something, but I wanted to play pro sports. At one time I probably wanted to be Evel Knievel.
NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why or why not?
Crawford: It’s all relative. How much money is enough money. I don’t think I would stop working entirely. I might be fishing a lot more. If I had enough money in my mind the answer would probably be ‘yes’.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like about living and working here?
Crawford: I’m a good specimen for that question. I’ve lived in a lot of places — Miami, San Diego, Vegas, Minneapolis, Seattle, Mexico to name a few. The only thing missing here is the ocean, but it’s the most phenomenal place to live. It’s home to me. I’m not a big city guy. I go to a place like New York and I get a feeling by about the second day of ‘I gotta get outta here!’’
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