Potawatomi partners to form logistics company

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:39 pm

Milwaukee-based Potawatomi Business Development Corp., a holding company fueled by annual allocations from the Forest County Potawatomi Community, has partnered with Ho-Chunk Inc., based in Winnebago, Neb., to launch HCI Logistics LLC, a Native American-owned transportation brokerage company.

Ho-Chunk Inc. is the business development arm of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.

HCI Logistics opened for business in September and is headquartered in Omaha, Neb.

HCI Logistics is a U.S. Small Business Administration-8A and HubZone certified logistics company with licensed motor carriers and licensed transportation brokerage services, said Kip Ritchie, vice president of business and community development for Potawatomi Business Development.

As the company grows, the partnership will consider opening a distribution center for HCI in the Milwaukee area, Ritchie said.

Potawatomi Business Development holds a 49-percent ownership share in HCI Logistics, and Ho-Chunk Inc. holds the remaining 51 percent, Ritchie said.

The company currently has a fleet of 10 trucks and eight employees. Ho-Chunk and Potawatomi are not directly managing HCI Logistics, but have put a management team in place, said Carol Leese, chief executive officer of Potawatomi Business Development.

Potawatomi Business Development invested about $400,000 into the venture for the initial start-up, Leese said.

The company plans to broker transportation services across the country.

“We felt we could compete,” Ritchie said. “The brokering business is competitive, but there are opportunities because of the amount of transportation needs in the country, both corporate and government.”

HCI Logistics is currently in conversations with the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Energy to transport ethanol, Leese said.

Potawatomi Business Development made a passive investment in an ethanol plant in Fort Dodge, Iowa, developed by BlueStem Ethanol LLC. The plant in Fort Dodge plans to produce $110 million gallons of ethanol per year.

“We are hoping in 2007 to have a contract,” Leese said.

The partnership between Ho-Chunk and Potawatomi Business Development was sparked by a combination of Ho-Chunk’s experience in distribution with its HCI Distribution company and conversations with Lance Morgan, chief executive officer of Ho-Chunk, who sits on the board of directors for Potawatomi Business Development, Ritchie said.

HCI Distribution has been in the transportation business for seven years and will form a strategic partnership with HCI Logistics, Leese said.

“HCI Logistics will certainly leverage our existing success formula for transportation and distribution,” said Mike Porter, chief executive officer of HCI Distribution.

Potawatomi Business Development was established in Brookfield in 2003. When Leese joined in December 2005, the company decided to move from passive investments to active investments through acquisitions, Ritchie said.

In 2006, Potawatomi acquired One Prospect Technologies in Crandon and DLF, an architectural and engineering firm in Norman, Okla., which has been renamed Potawatomi Design Group (PDG).

Since Leese joined, the corporation has made about $3.5 million in investments in the forms of acquisitions, partial ownerships and partnerships, Ritchie said.

“We have provided for the tribe in a whole new way,” Ritchie said.

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