It’s a local story, for sure, but it’s also an uncommon one … Save for the fact it perfectly encapsulates the story of many aspiring businesses in the Northern Kentucky region. It’s a story of how two people — a husband and a wife — saw their vision go from a true mom-and-pop operation to what they now regard as a “people-centric” company moving a massive amount of freight nationwide. “It” is the story of Legion Logistics, a model of the type of entrepreneurial spirit Blue North seeks to build, support, and promote in showcasing the potential of Northern Kentucky.
A freight management company operating out of Florence, the abridged history of Legion Logistics begins in 2009. That is when Lacy Starling and her business partner (and at the time, husband) Tony Coutsoftides got the idea to combine their knowledge – hers as the daughter of a truck driver with experience in business, marketing, and websites, his as a former military logistics specialist who later helped run a family cargo business overseas. With Coutsoftides working for logistics giant TQL at the time and Starling open to new opportunities, the idea to start their own logistics company seemed like a natural fit.
Starling and her partner poured their own funds into the business to get it off the ground, a necessity since they had no type of collateral, equipment, or even a physical location since the business began in the basement of their former home. An additional challenge came in trying to convince truck drivers they were creditworthy, putting additional stress on both the Starling and Coutsoftides as well as their wallets. Luckily, a dear friend believed in their vision and loaned them $30,000 to help them start Legion – a loan they paid back in just 8 months.
Starling says Northern Kentucky is a prime location for those interested in investing in the supply chain and logistics industries given the number of warehouses and resources in places like the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Northern Kentucky University and Northern Kentucky Tri-Ed. Likewise, she says the city of Florence itself has been “amazing” in helping the company arrive at the point where it is now.
“We’ve gotten such a warm welcome in Northern Kentucky which is fantastic because neither Tony nor I are from this area. We’re both transplants and didn’t have a deep bench of resources when we started the company,” she says. “SBDC, Tri-Ed, and the City of Florence have been wonderful to us as we’ve grown. We know that when we have questions and need answers, we can turn to them.”
This is why Starling says she enjoyed Blue North’s recent virtual Supply Chain meetup event, saying it can serve as a valuable way to connect entrepreneurs to resources and create a conversation about regional needs – especially given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In much the same fashion she praised Blue North for its efforts to help people like her, Starling champions her team for persevering through the crisis. “We have the best team in the world, honestly and I never miss an opportunity to brag on them,” she says.
Focused on the future, Starling looks forward to brighter days ahead for her team and the customers they serve.
“There’s no such thing as a self-made person – there are men and women like myself and Tony who have been able to make something great because of the contributions of everyone else (with) our own sacrifice,” she says. “You have to have all these wonderful people around you, too and that’s probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned as a business owner: You’re only as good as your team and I’m lucky enough to have a great team.”
“There’s no such thing as a self-made person."