For 2021 Hall of Famer Kirk Godby It’s All About The Relationships
Ask Kirk Godby why he was honored with induction into the CLDA Hall of Fame and he responds with characteristic humility: “I guess I volunteered for too many committees!” Then he gets serious, pointing to the mentors he’s met through the association during his 25+ year career as the real reasons for his success.
Those relationships started building only a few years after Godby formed his first courier company, Corporate Couriers in Fort Worth, TX. “I began my business in 1993 and two years later, a magazine from the association arrived. It showed me there was a whole world of technology and information about this business that was out there. But I didn’t join until 1997 when I met Mike Gualtieri at a Datatrac software conference. I sat next to him at dinner, and we talked about our businesses. He asked me if I had joined the MCAA (now the CLDA). I told him I had not yet done that, and that’s when he said,” ‘You must join the MCAA and go to their next conference. It will be the greatest thing you ever do for your business.’ I did, and he was exactly right.”
Godby was amazed at how quickly his membership brought in revenue. “At the first show I attended I met a lot of people, and one of those new acquaintances ended up bringing me a $1 million account,” he recalls.
Within three years of joining the association, Gualtieri – then the association’s vice-president – asked Godby to run for the board. He was elected in 2006 and served for 12 years, eventually service as president for two years, starting in 2014.
Godby was a key driver in professionalizing CLDA’s meetings and rebranding it as the Customized Logistics & Delivery association in 2014. He was responsible for the Fall meeting and eventually the Annual Meeting (now the Final Mile Forum), which he chaired in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
As a leader and an association member his focus was always on building bridges to people. “The relationships I formed throughout the years are priceless to me,” he says. “I never dreamed I would know so many people across this whole country and move up to head the CLDA. This association has built me business-wise and personally. Through it I’ve met successful businesspeople who have become life-long friends. People like Mike, Tony Racioppo, Rob Hackbarth, Rob Johnstone, Chris MacKrell, Mark Chiusano, and a man who become my partner in multiple business ventures, Rob Slack.”
Slack and Godby worked together for four years at SCI and eventually started their own third-party administrator company in 2018. That company became a part of Openforce in April 2019 where both men currently work. Godby is a strategic account executive and shareholder with a focus on sales and business development at Openforce.
His involvement with the association also had unusual and personal benefit, helping him indulge a lifelong passion for horse racing. Along with Gualtieri, Johnstone, and Slack, Godby started “Don’t Tell My Wife Stables” in 2010. The group has formed many racing partnerships over the years, and notably owned and campaigned My Boy Jack in the 2018 Kentucky Derby. The horse ran 5th to Justify in the Derby. Three of their horses have competed in the Breeders’ Cup: My Boy Jack, Danette, and Reflect. Currently the Stable owns and races five thoroughbreds in Kentucky and California.
A Not-Quite Academy Award Presentation
In fact, it was Rob Slack and another of the association’s former presidents, Mark Chiusano, who sprung Godby’s Hall of Fame nomination on him at the Final Mile Forum in June.
The two did a send-up of an Academy Awards presentation, complete with the call for the envelope. The presentation appeared to hit a snag when the envelope was nowhere to be found. “We’ve got a little problem,” confessed a guilty-sounding, Slack, who admitted he’d put the envelope into his back pocket the night before, then did a little gambling. “When I got up this morning, the envelope wasn’t in my pocket,” he said. “I went down looking for it and checked with the hotel and could not find it.” The ruse continued as Colonel Craig Flowers, a lifelong friend of Godby’s, rose from the audience. “Mr. Slack, I might have your envelope,” he said. “I found it on the floor of the bar, and it had the CLDA logo, so I held onto it. Here it is. Is this it?”
Godby, who’d been passively listening from the front of the room, suddenly caught on. “I was half-listening to the Hall of Fame speech and the little skit the Rob and Mark did, but when they mentioned Col. Flowers, I knew it was me,” he said. “I was kind of stunned. I suddenly noticed both my wife and my youngest daughter were also in the room and the whole thing became real!”
He took the stage and tried to take it all in. “I was shocked and humbled. To be recognized by the members or this association, one I love so much and one I put some much into, meant so much to me. Being distinguished by your peers with that type of award was both overwhelming and special.” He took a moment to thank some of his mentors during his logistics careers: “I had the best teachers in this business, and I am grateful for everything these guys have done for me. These are special guys, all past presidents, Mark Chiusano, Chris Mackrell, Mike Gualtieri, Rob Slack and Rob Johnstone. You taught me a ton and I am grateful for everything you have done for me.”
He also thanked the CLDA staff. “When you become president, it’s a full-time job and these folks made it possible for me to do that. And lastly, I want to thank my wife and my two daughters. They are the real Hall of Famers in my life!”
The CLDA, The Business Growth and The Relationships
For Godby, the CLDA is more than a professional association. More than a place to do business. For Godby, it’s personal. “This association is special to me because of the relationships I’ve formed with everybody I’ve met,” he says. “This is a great group of people that all work hard and are in this together. To be able to call on them professionally to get ideas has been priceless. People in this association share ideas and knowledge so freely. This association built me professionally through the relationships with the people I met. I remember when I had my courier company, I got a huge account through a relationship I got through the association. It made money. But, at the end of the day it’s always about the people and the relationships.”
He offers this advice to anyone thinking about joining the association: “If someone asked me why they should be a part of the CLDA, I’d give them the same advice I got from Mike Gualtieri. It was the advice that made me join in 1997. He said, ‘You’ve got to do this. You’ve got to join. It will take you to the next level.’ He was right and now I pass that along. I’d tell anyone in this business that they should get involved and be a part of it because the rewards are very big!”