Getting to Know the FlexVets: Andrew Price
Andrew Price is an Operations Associate in Flexport’s San Francisco office. He was in the Coast Guard for five years and served in the Caribbean, the Middle East, and the Northeastern United States.
What is your favorite part about living in San Francisco, CA?
I moved here four months ago from Connecticut and, so far, I love it. I enjoy being in the epicenter of the tech scene — now that I’m working at a Y-Combinator startup in San Francisco, I’m experiencing something completely new and different from the military, which I find extremely valuable.
I also appreciate the acceptance and cultural diversity of San Francisco. There’s much more to do and see here than there was in the Northeast, and Flexport encourages us to take advantage of the city. We’ve taken a company tubing trip and have happy hours every week — my favorite spot is Local Edition, a bar off of Market Street near our office.
Why did you join the Coast Guard, and what did you do while you were in it?
I looked at different military academies and decided on the Coast Guard because of its humanitarian and public facing mission. Secondly, the people I met in the Coast Guard seemed genuinely happy to be working for the organization and that is something that immediately drew me to the service.
At the Coast Guard Academy, I realized that serving on a ship was a great challenge and an excellent leadership opportunity. Upon graduation, my first appointment was on a ship based out of North Carolina that went to the Caribbean for two months at a time. We ran drug interdiction missions, rescued migrants from Cuba and Haiti from the water, and ran challenging search and rescue cases. I was the Supply Officer onboard, which meant I was in charge of administration, food preparation, finance, health services, and procurement for the 85 member crew.
After two years, I volunteered to serve in the Middle East. I was based in Bahrain and as the Operations Officer onboard a Coast Guard patrol boat, I organized joint training exercises with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. One of my main roles was to ensure safe passage of US and allied ships through the contentious Strait of Hormuz. As Operations Officer, my role was to lead the ship’s response to aggressive maneuvers by Iranian Naval ships.
After that, I was selected to become a Commanding Officer. For two years, I was responsible for a crew of twelve as captain of an eighty-seven foot Coast Guard Cutter in Connecticut. My crew and I performed search and rescue, law enforcement boardings, inspections of shipping vessels, and national security missions in the Northeast. We played a pivotal role in the maritime security for the United Nations General Assembly in New York, which included visits from dozens of world leaders including the President and the Pope. Additionally, one of responsibilities in terms of trade was to ensure the safe passage of the highly explosive LNG (liquified natural gas) ships as they entered Boston Harbor.
What do you do at Flexport?
My current role at Flexport is Operations Associate. I fill the gap where needed, which means I help move shipments where our system isn’t automated yet. I talk to clients and make sure their shipments are booked correctly and delivered on time. I use the same skills I needed in the military; I build relationships cross functionally — with our clients and with partner networks like truckers, ocean carriers and warehouses. Logistics is definitely a relationship business, so my experience with different types of people in the Coast Guard and government has come in handy.
My favorite part about working at Flexport is working with my team and achieving short term goals, such as getting a shipment to a client when they really need it. There have been several strict deadlines where other freight forwarders might not have given these clients the level of service they needed, and we were able to solve everything and get them their freight.
Once, we were contracted to ship apparel for a marathon from China. If the shipment didn’t arrive on time, the client would take a loss and the race organizer would need to scrounge up new apparel right before the event. Even though this was one of our smaller clients, we spent a significant amount of time working hard to deliver the shipment overnight, just in time for the race. It took countless hours, but it felt really good to get them the race apparel they were waiting for, and we built a long lasting relationship with this customer as a result.
What led you to a career in logistics? To Flexport?
I didn’t ever think I would work in freight forwarding, but I was drawn to logistics after leaving the military. I had to decide between going to business school, working in a more traditional field such as consulting, or working at a startup. I found Flexport online and figured that the time was right, especially after meeting the amazing people that make up this company. It just seemed like the right fit with my experience on the frontline of global trade while in the Coast Guard. I had the experience watching the freight move across oceans and through the ports, but I always wondered how it works behind the scenes. Flexport has given me exactly that. The learning curve is steep and sometimes include long hours, but I truly look forward to coming to work each day and learning that next piece or next insight about the industry.
The job description was looking for a get-it-done attitude, a willingness to change the world of freight and the ability to manage multiple projects at once. It was also exciting that at one moment I could be working on a shipment coming out of mainland China, the next I could be working with a ocean terminal in Texas, and the next I could be working with the product team to create a new innovation within our Flexport platform.
What do you do outside of work?
I’m an avid runner — I ran in high school and college, so I’m trying to keep it up. I have a dog named Rowdy and we often run and hike together. Recently, I went to Yosemite with some family and we hiked to the top of Half Dome. Using the cables at the top of that climb was awesome, and easily one of the most risky things I’ve done!
I also love exploring the breweries in the area and the wineries up in Sonoma and Napa. I just toured the Lagunitas brewery and I loved it. I figured it would be great to see their brewing process up close, since I’ve been drinking their beer for a while!
Why do veterans excel at Flexport?
Veterans have many skills honed in the military that transfer well to working at Flexport. For example, we have a bias for action that may be less common in our civilian counterparts. While others might spend more time discussing options, veterans have been trained to quickly analyze the different factors in a decision and then transition to putting that decision to action.
Another thing that’s really helped me succeed here is the ability to work with a wide range of people and be cross functional. Not only is the Coast Guard diverse in terms of geography and many other factors, but I also regularly interacted with different organizations within the military, such as the Secret Service, Customs Border Patrol and U.S. Fish and Game, and with officers from international countries. The ability to work well with all of these different people is a real strength.
The well-read blog TechCrunch has twice referred to Flexport as an “unsexy” startup. Why are they wrong?
Disrupting this industry takes hard work and as a company, we are far from being done. But, we’ve had some success, and success is sexy. Especially in a one trillion dollar global market.
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Veterans make huge contributions at Flexport. To highlight their skills and their stories, we’re profiling all of the current veteran employees at Flexport, aptly called “FlexVets.” These are the people who have given an incredible service to our country, and have found a new mission revolutionizing global trade.
If you’re interested in working at Flexport, feel free to check out our careers page or contact Kristen Hayward at FlexVets@flexport.com.