Dustin Hansen is CEO for InXpress in the Americas. However, he started his journey with the business as the first franchisee in the US, selling it 10 years later. Here’s his amazing story charting the ups and downs of his first few years as a franchise owner.
On 1 July 2006 my wife Jazmin, my Dad, brother and I left Salt Lake City for Atlanta to set up InXpress Atlanta. We borrowed my father-in-law’s truck and trailer and loaded with all our possessions, including Jazmin’s white Pontiac Sunfire. We drove straight through to Atlanta (over 1800 miles away) choosing not to stop and sleep.
We arrived in Atlanta late afternoon on 2ndJuly and unpacked into our apartment, which we had not yet seen trusting my uncle, who managed apartments complexes, to select one of his apartments for us. The apartment was located off Britian Drive (just off Boggs Road) in the Meadows of Gwinnett. It was quite large, with two bedrooms including a washer and dryer however, it was infested with cockroaches, which we were never able to get rid of! The lady who lived in the apartment right below us was a heavy smoker, so our placed always smelt of cigarette smoke. She was very nice, but unfortunately died a few months after we moved in.
My dad and brother spent the fourth of July holiday with us and then left for Salt Lake City the next day, which was when I started my first day of knocking doors and selling. I got in the car and randomly started to drive looking for business parks, trying to remember what roads I had taken so I could find my way back! The first door I walked into was an insurance company. I was extremely nervous. I asked the receptionist if they did any shipping. She said yes. I congratulated her and then walked out, not even asking for an appointment, or explaining who I was and what we did! A few days later I signed up and activated my first customer (the first InXpress customer in the US). It was a real estate company called Nobles Realty and Associates. They shipped a document, which I hand carried to the DHL station and dropped off. That company did a few sparse shipments with us over the years.
The same week, I was able to sign up and activate the first regular customer for InXpress. The company was called Medavant Healthcare. I walked into their office and the receptionist was an older lady in her 70’s. As I walked up to her desk I noticed she was dipping pretzels in a peanut butter jar. I asked her about their shipping. She rudely blew me off and asked me to leave. That night I asked my wife to bake peanut butter cookies, so I could take them back to this receptionist, knowing she liked peanut butter and trying to change her attitude towards me. I took the cookies the next morning, reintroduced myself, stated that I had seen her eating pretzels with peanut butter, and I wanted to bring her back some peanut butter cookies. She looked at me with a shocked looked, then stood up, grabbed my arm, and walked me back to the CFO’s (Eric) office. She told Eric “I don’t know if this gentleman can help us, but you need to meet with him”. She sat me down and walked out. I was able to get a copy of their current shipping providers invoices from Eric, create a proposal, and signed the customer up two days later. They shipped several domestic shipments a day with me for several years.
On 17 December2006, my wife and I had a flight home to Salt Lake City to spend the Christmas holiday with family. We boarded our flight that afternoon and when we landed that evening we were greeted by my Dad who quickly ushered us out to the airport sidewalk where we were meet by Jazmin’s family – everyone expect her oldest brother Dustin. We learned that Dustin had passed away that morning due to an accidental drug overdose. My wife was devastated, and grief stricken. We stayed in Salt Lake City throughout Christmas, until I left to go back to Atlanta whilst Jazmin stayed on for an extra week. When Jazmin rejoined me in the first week of January, we realised that, after paying rent, we had $1.50 in the bank to live off for that month. Grief stricken and broke, we continued to press on.
In December 2006, our church congregation had secretly raised $300 to give to Jazmin and I as a Secret Santa gift so that we could have a Christmas. Upon receiving the generous gift, Jazmin and I laid the money in a small crudely made wooden manger, knelt down next to the manger, and prayed; committing that we would always remember the generous gift others had given us, and that if God would bless our business to succeed, that we would give back to others that needed our help, that we would use our means to bless others’ lives. By the following September, our financial fortunes had turned around and our business was thriving! We have never forgotten the promise that we made and have done our best to keep it.