Family drive turns Oasis Freight Transport into to brokerage

Oasis Freight Transport underwent a major transition in the past year.

Not only did Oasis rebrand — it was formerly known as Oasis Farms & Trucking — but the 20-year-old company also transformed its business model.

It sold off its fleet of 15 trucks and began operating as a freight brokerage.

“It’s hard to keep drivers and maintain all of the equipment,” said Polo Garza Jr., son of Oasis’ founder, Polo Garza Sr. “You have to either be really small — like three or four trucks — where it’s enough where you can handle it (yourself), or big with 40 or 50 trucks where you can afford to pay a full-time staff. It’s hard to be a medium guy.”

Previously based in Othello, Oasis shipped “anything that can be put on a flatbed,” said Polo Jr., including dry wall, steel, lumber, roofing and other construction materials, landscaping products and cardboard and metals for recycling.

Oasis also hauled agricultural commodities and crops.

Growing up, Polo Jr. explained that his parents were spread thin, trying to fill all the roles in the company, from vehicle maintenance to dispatching, to hiring and trucking shipments themselves, and more.

“The last five years of the era with the trucks, I was looking to get out of this business and lifestyle,” Polo Sr. said. “I had five kids at home and college coming up.”

He said he kept trying to find a solution for carrying on the business that would also improve his work-life balance.

The answer came a couple of years later from Polo Jr., who had been involved in the family business from a young age, and was working on a business degree at Belmont University in Nashville.

In an entrepreneurial class, Polo Jr. used an open-ended course project as an opportunity to explore expanding Oasis’ business model and got the company licensed and insured as a freight broker.

Instead of coordinating their own trucks and trailers with available drivers to transport loads, brokering removes the overhead and limitations of maintaining a fleet, and instead plays a third-party role by connecting trucks and drivers across the country to loads in need of transport.

Working remotely from Nashville, Polo Jr. began managing the brokerage side of the family business.

In January 2018, Oasis hired its third full-time employee, Polo Sr.’s nephew, Vince Gonzalez, who trained under Polo Jr. to learn how to broker loads.

Before Gonzalez joined the team, “we were doing $3 million a year, just us,” Polo Jr. said, explaining that having the second set of hands enabled them to work with large-scale customers, such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, ProBuild and Walmart, to expand Oasis’ reach across the western United States.

They also established a website as a touch point for contact information and to drum up more business.

By fall 2018, they had sold all their trucks, changed their name and transitioned into operating solely as a freight brokerage.

With no more trucks of their own to manage, Oasis no longer needed to maintain a truck yard and shop. They put their Othello facility up for sale and moved to an efficient 2,000-square-foot upstairs office at 6318 W. Clearwater Ave. in Kennewick, leased to them by building owner Perfect Circle Construction.

“At the beginning of year 2018, we had 20 trucks that had ever hauled for us, driven primarily by local owner-operators. By the end of the year, we had 1,000 carriers across the U.S. and Canada … it was almost too good to be true. We were asking ourselves, ‘Why did we wait this long?’ ” Polo Jr. said.

The number of loads coordinated and successfully carried each week tripled from about 40 to 150 during the non-winter months. Last year, they brokered a total of about 7,000 loads. Oasis has seen about a 300 percent increase in business since making the switch.

Due to the rising demand of the more than 3,000 manufacturing and shipping companies and more than 700 carrier companies that Oasis works with, the Garzas had to hire more support staff, adding a total of eight employees.

“The reason we’ve grown is because when we say that we’re going to pick it up tomorrow and deliver at a specified time, we’re going to do it,” Polo Sr. said.

Another accomplishment that Oasis is proud of, said Polo Sr., is that after more than 20 years in business, all “loads have been successfully delivered with minimal accidents and zero fatalities.”

In perspective, Polo Sr. estimates that Oasis has delivered about 100,000 loads hauled over 35 million miles.

Those first two decades of what Polo Sr. calls “sweat equity” laid the foundation for today’s current success, the Garzas say.

The early years established the company’s credibility as a reliable carrier and logistics coordinator, and along the way, Polo Sr. forged long-lasting connections with clients and drivers across the Northwest.

Today, Polo Jr. manages the company’s operations, with some oversight from Polo Sr., who is now mostly retired.

Thanks to the inherently remote nature of freight brokering, all of Oasis’ freight agents are able to dispatch from home, just a phone call away from the drivers and able to confer by webcam with other freight agents to handle issues as they arise.

They also can spend more time with their families, which has made the transition to the new business model worthwhile for the Garzas and their family.

With the way things have been progressing, Polo Sr. projects that the business may double by the end of 2019, which would potentially mean making more hires and a possible service area expansion to Mexico and beyond.

Oasis already is expanding into coordinating dry good loads, in addition to construction and landscaping materials and agricultural products.

The father and son also are working on business plans and property development projects around the Tri-Cities, including a new office building at 1992 Saint St. in Richland.

“We are ready to be in the network of the Tri-Cities,” Polo Sr. said.

In the meantime, the Garzas remain passionate about “encouraging team members to participate in philanthropy,” Polo Jr. said. To kick off these efforts, half of the employees participated in a mission trip last summer at Caring Hearts Ministries in Sonora, Mexico.

“Besides donating money, we want to donate our time, and that’s what we’re trying to encourage with our company,” Polo Jr. said. “We want the benefit of this growth to be in giving back.”

Oasis Freight Transport: 6318 W Clearwater Ave., Kennewick; 509-760-7287; Oftrans.com.their Othello facility up for sale and moved to an efficient 2,000-square-foot upstairs office at 6318 W. Clearwater Ave. in Kennewick, leased to them by building owner Perfect Circle Construction.

“At the beginning of year 2018, we had 20 trucks that had ever hauled for us, driven primarily by local owner-operators. By the end of the year, we had 1,000 carriers across the U.S. and Canada … it was almost too good to be true. We were asking ourselves, ‘Why did we wait this long?’ ” Polo Jr. said.

The number of loads coordinated and successfully carried each week tripled from about 40 to 150 during the non-winter months. Last year, they brokered a total of about 7,000 loads. Oasis has seen about a 300 percent increase in business since making the switch.

Due to the rising demand of the more than 3,000 manufacturing and shipping companies and more than 700 carrier companies that Oasis works with, the Garzas had to hire more support staff, adding a total of eight employees.

“The reason we’ve grown is because when we say that we’re going to pick it up tomorrow and deliver at a specified time, we’re going to do it,” Polo Sr. said.

Another accomplishment that Oasis is proud of, said Polo Sr., is that after more than 20 years in business, all “loads have been successfully delivered with minimal accidents and zero fatalities.”

In perspective, Polo Sr. estimates that Oasis has delivered about 100,000 loads hauled over 35 million miles.

Those first two decades of what Polo Sr. calls “sweat equity” laid the foundation for today’s current success, the Garzas say.

The early years established the company’s credibility as a reliable carrier and logistics coordinator, and along the way, Polo Sr. forged long-lasting connections with clients and drivers across the Northwest.

Today, Polo Jr. manages the company’s operations, with some oversight from Polo Sr., who is now mostly retired.

Thanks to the inherently remote nature of freight brokering, all of Oasis’ freight agents are able to dispatch from home, just a phone call away from the drivers and able to confer by webcam with other freight agents to handle issues as they arise.

They also can spend more time with their families, which has made the transition to the new business model worthwhile for the Garzas and their family.

With the way things have been progressing, Polo Sr. projects that the business may double by the end of 2019, which would potentially mean making more hires and a possible service area expansion to Mexico and beyond.

Oasis already is expanding into coordinating dry good loads, in addition to construction and landscaping materials and agricultural products.

The father and son also are working on business plans and property development projects around the Tri-Cities, including a new office building at 1992 Saint St. in Richland.

“We are ready to be in the network of the Tri-Cities,” Polo Sr. said.

In the meantime, the Garzas remain passionate about “encouraging team members to participate in philanthropy,” Polo Jr. said. To kick off these efforts, half of the employees participated in a mission trip last summer at Caring Hearts Ministries in Sonora, Mexico.

“Besides donating money, we want to donate our time, and that’s what we’re trying to encourage with our company,” Polo Jr. said. “We want the benefit of this growth to be in giving back.”

Oasis Freight Transport: 6318 W Clearwater Ave., Kennewick; 509-760-7287; Oftrans.com.

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