Note: Four days after publication, on March 8, MegaCorp Logistics was named as a recipient of local economic development incentives. Read more about the award.
The start of Ryan Legg’s career in third-party logistics sounds like the setup to a joke.
“A freight broker came into the bar,” he said.
The punchline is, then a bartender, Legg intently listened to the broker’s perspective, later went on to learn his playbook and eventually started two successful third-party logistics (3PL) companies on his own.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” he said of the industry.
Now, Legg can’t stop MegaCorp Logistics’ growth. With headquarters in Wilmington, the company brought in $700 million in revenue last year, up from $50 million a decade ago. MegaCorp added about 175 employees companywide last year; 130 joined the Wilmington team off Sir Tyler Drive.
Seemingly in a constant hiring spree as it scales up to serve its growing clientele, MegaCorp plans to hire another 150 in Wilmington this year. As of January, the company employed 535 between its five locations.
“I don’t see us slowing down,” Legg said in a January interview.
MegaCorp acts as a middleman between goods producers and trucking carriers, having brokered 200,000 loads last year. The company bills customers for delivering their products to stores and in turn pays trucking carriers it coordinates with to get the items on shelves.
Last year, the company was ranked 42nd by Transport Topics on a national list of the top freight brokerage firms in North America, meaning there’s plenty of market share left to snatch.
Never a shortage of companies to call on, Legg and other MegaCorp employees look for leads in everyday life. “There’s probably hundreds of customers if you just look around this building,” he said, pointing to steel, lighting and first-aid equipment.
“Over 30 years I’ve driven my wife crazy, because when I’m at the grocery store, I’m like ‘Ooh, take a picture of that, ooh take a picture of that,’” he said. “I mean, every frozen food is a customer.”
The latest supply chain breakdown has proven fruitful for the company, which relies on sales professionals to secure new business and operations managers to fulfill orders. This market is presenting opportunities, Legg said, with clients ready to gamble on new options to avoid headaches.
Legg founded the company with his wife, Denise, and started with a handful of employees in a small office off Station Road in 2009. They later settled into space fronting Wrightsville Avenue – where Vantaca is today – before eventually outgrowing that shell (a team of night dispatchers still occupies a portion of the outpost to fill the company’s 24/7 availability).
MegaCorp moved into its current HQ in the spring of 2019, gutting a two-story office building, replacing familiar fluorescents with sleek lighting and installing a black-iron stairwell. In the rehab project, Legg incorporated a full-service restaurant, gym, salon, outdoor mini-golf area and a few beers on tap – perks to draw in new employees and retain existing ones.
Mid-pandemic hiring prompted Legg to seek even more space for his growing team. Roughly half of MegaCorp’s employees now work remotely. Despite the reduction of in-person teammates, parking is tight, and the building has filled up.
If all Wilmington employees chose to return to work in the office, MegaCorp wouldn’t have any room left for the new employees it plans to add on board – necessitating Legg’s latest bulk property purchases and nearby office renovation plans.
“We’re running out of space,” said chief financial officer Matthew Propst.
“We have to stay ahead of it,” Legg added.
Days before 2021 ended, Legg roughly doubled his property management portfolio, purchasing three buildings nearby totaling 63,000 square feet in a $15.2 million deal. Becoming a full-blown property management company is a secondary byproduct of Legg’s primary motivation: ensuring MegaCorp has enough room to grow.
After planned renovations of the company’s new space at 1051 Military Cutoff Road, MegaCorp employees will move into the new space in addition to keeping the original HQ running.
Office space in the Wilmington market, especially the Mayfaire submarket, isn’t cheap.
“Where we’re at, it’s pretty much top dollar,” Legg said. Starting out, Legg looked downtown for space, but now, he prefers the convenience of the current location.
Propst said the cost per square foot in Wilmington (not including renovation fees) is $250-$350, compared to $70 in the company’s Jacksonville market.
Given the ability to work remotely (following a year-long, in-person training experience Legg says is necessary to grasp 3PL basics), MegaCorp could locate its offices or expand where it pleases.
“We can do our job anywhere,” he said.
Legg is choosing to bulk up in Wilmington based on his experience in the market thus far, frequently hiring University of North Carolina Wilmington grads. “Wilmington is a desirable place to live,” he said.
Plans to beef up the company’s Jacksonville office this year are underway as employees move into a new space this month, starting with 20 employees and 100 additional desks to fill. “We’re going to hire aggressively in Jacksonville,” Legg said.
Despite higher real estate costs, Legg said MegaCorp is committed to Wilmington.
The company has been able to retain and recruit talent by investing in its workforce, company officials said.
Part of that involves spending extra on employees.
Each year, Legg loses money on the on-site restaurant he subsidizes, helmed by former Live Oak Bank sous chef Eric Crouch, who coordinates fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner options for employees daily.
Legg’s commission structure is almost twice as high as it was at the first company he co-founded in 1997, Total Quality Logistics. (His partner bought him out in 2006, leaving Legg with a three-year noncompete. In the lag time, Legg raised children, played golf and launched MegaCorp the day the noncompete agreement expired.)
The company prides itself in sticking to its word – even if that means taking a loss. If a broker quotes a client at $5,000 a load, then market forces drive the actual cost up to $6,000, “some brokers get back and say, ‘Sorry I can’t take it,’” Legg said. “We take it, we lose $1,000 on a load. We never leave loads on the dock – a lot of brokers will leave loads on the dock.
“It’s all about relationships.”