Ross Bacarella: Top leader, small employers Ship-shape satisfaction
Rosario “Ross” Bacarella, president and CEO of BTX Global Logistics, has led his family’s freight-forwarding company for the past 20 years to become one of the top-producing logistics providers in the country.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Bacarella, 55, grew up in Trumbull and graduated from St. Joseph High School. at Nichols College in Massachusetts, where he was a running back on the football team and majored in management and marketing.
His father, Anthony, founded Bacarella Transportation Express in Stratford the year he graduated from high school, and Ross joined the firm after college. From a single terminal, Bacarella and his brother Lenny, now vice president of the company, grew the company dramatically and rebranded it as BTX — along with driving forklifts when needed.
Bacarella is this year’s winner of the Top Leadership award for small employers in Hearst Connecticut Media’s Top Workplaces. BTX now has 28 regional offices throughout the country and employs 350 people with about 100 based at the Shelton headquarters, providing air, ground and sea services, warehouse fulfillment, and e-commerce services.
Bacarella has held board positions on the Air Forwarders Association as well as various global networks internationally.
Q: What makes BTX a great place to work?
A: We understand that the millennials are a very different type of employee. We have built our infrastructure around employee satisfaction. They are there a long day, so providing high-end furniture, sit/stand desks, a gym with locker rooms and showers, an employee lounge with full kitchen, hiring personal trainers for them — we want the workplace to be a fun place to be since they spend so much of their time here. A happy employee is a good employee.
Q: How do you help your employees stay on the cutting edge of your industry?
A: It’s a competitive industry. Technology has been the cornerstone of our success. IT capabilities are considered by our clientele to be just as important as shipments arriving on time and damage-free to their destinations. Whether it’s offering new services like SEO for our fulfillment clientele or creating a new interface for a client, technology is at the forefront of it all. With customization requests coming in daily from all over the globe, we are going to have to do what we’ve always done — hire more people and utilize more resources to stay ahead of the times.
Q: What challenges do you face in the logistics industry and how do you equip your employees to meet these challenges?
A: We are regulated by so many different government agencies. The TSA, the DOT, the Federal Maritime Commission — keeping in tow with these guys is so fast changing; the customs requirements are changing constantly, so keeping up with the government changes are our biggest challenge. And, we are dealing with people all over the world, so we have to be conscious of foreign government requirements. We are constantly meeting with employees and providing them with tools that making their jobs more effective.
Q: What are your hiring plans over the next 12 months?
A: We are constantly hiring. We are in the process of expanding into new markets. We just opened one in Detroit, Michigan and we opened a new terminal in Laredo, Texas. Over the next two to three years we plan to open an additional 10 to 15 offices throughout North America with targets for additional offices in Germany, the UK, Italy and Asia.
Q: What is the difference between being a boss and a leader?
A: In my opinion a boss is the individual you report to, one that has managed the people and process underneath them to get the job done. A leader on the other hand a leader is also a boss who influences their people and empowers them to be the best they can be.
Q: What are the leadership principles and style by which you operate?
A: I lead by example. All of my employees are engaged when it comes to decisions that affect their jobs. If they are part of the process, they feel empowered which is what we want from our teammates.
Q: What’s an important lesson you’ve learned?
A: Do not be afraid to make mistakes, and if you are going to do something, be passionate about it and do it the very best you can. Also, work when others are not and don’t be afraid to be different.
Q: If you did something else, what would it be?
A: I would have liked to be a professional baseball player.