After launching and selling his food truck, local entrepreneur Guru Shah has slowly but steadily built an asset-based trucking company-but from the start, he wanted it to be about more than business.
He wanted to help others. So recently, Shah presented a check for $10,000 to Chattanooga Area Food Bank CEO Gina Crumbliss to fund the Sack Pack program at Clifton Hills Elementary School.
It’s part of his company’s Penny Per Mile initiative, which Shah started after reading “Start Something That Matters” by Blake Mycoskie, the founder of the Toms shoes brand.
The book introduced Shah to a “one-for-one” ethos-for every pair of shoes Toms sells, they also donate a pair to someone in need.
So Shah decided to collect a penny for each mile logged by one of his company’s trucks. Over the course of one year, he collected $10,000 that will help keep children who rely on free/reduced-price school meals during the week from going hungry on the weekends.
The donation went to a program that provides healthy food items -cereal, milk, juice, fruit, granola bars, soup and even recipes-that help sustain children.
“This [idea] resonated with me, and I decided that I wanted to do the same thing in my trucking business,” Shah said of the one-for-one ethos. “It didn’t take long for me to realize that a penny per mile would start to add up quickly, and I knew that to make the biggest impact, I had to invite more trucking companies to adopt the one-for-one mentality under the Penny Per Mile umbrella.”
He’s already got another company, Bozac Transportation, to join in the effort, and he’s hoping bigger companies will also commit some of their trucks to the cause.
For each partner company, there is an expectation to implement the Penny Per Mile platform for at least one of their trucks.
The partner company will then be expected to donate a penny for each mile that truck travels over the course of the year. One truck is the minimum, but larger fleets could decide to utilize more than one truck or even the whole fleet.
Over time, as partner companies join, the fund will offer three charities as options to give to.
There has been interest from potential partner companies in supporting homelessness for veterans, so this would likely be a cause included for partner companies to choose from, Shah said.
And he has a “big hairy audacious goal” in mind.
“The potential for Penny Per Mile is huge, and we have a goal to recruit at least 50 trucks from partner companies in 2017, which would raise over $100,000,” Shah said. “In five years, the big hairy audacious goal is to raise $1 million.”