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The Company Lab: Making New Waves with U.S. Xpress CEO and President Eric Fuller

June 21, 2023 by The Company Lab

When Eric Fuller (pictured, top of page) took on his role as CEO and president of U.S. Xpress in 2018, there was one key element he wanted to embrace: the entrepreneurial community.

“As CEO over the last five years, there were a few things I became very passionate about,” said Fuller. “One was looking at new opportunities in the freight sector coming through venture capital and startups. I loved seeing how we could layer in new approaches and incubate startups within the company, while becoming very involved externally with a lot of startups in our space.”

Throughout his career, Fuller spent his time immersed in the freight and logistics industry. His drive lasted for more than two decades, with one key component characterizing his role: investment in Chattanooga’s potential.

“Once you live here for a long time, Chattanooga kind of gets in your blood and your DNA,” said Fuller. “I want to see Chattanooga in the same conversation as those much larger cities from a business perspective—that’s why I want to help, and why others feel the same way. I’m just so passionate about the community.”

Sustainable Mobility Accelerates In Chattanooga, Tennessee

Fuller recently decided to redirect his devotion to Chattanooga’s startup ecosystem in a new way: as the new executive-in-residence for The Company Lab (CO.LAB), a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to accelerating startups in areas like supply chain technology, electric and autonomous vehicles, quantum computing, and clean energy.

Fuller is in the process of transitioning from U.S. Xpress to CO.LAB, where he will help recruit startups, provide mentorship, strategic guidance, and bring deep industry expertise for entrepreneurs in similar fields.

“As I was thinking about my transition, I wanted  to help founders figure out where they need to go next and how they need to position themselves,” said Fuller. “Advising startups on how to better set themselves up for success is something I am very interested in doing.”

Executive Perspectives: Chattanooga Attracts Entrepreneurs

CO.LAB CEO Tasia Malakasis says adding Fuller to the company’s team is essential, especially at a time where Chattanooga is growing in both the entrepreneurial and sustainable mobility sectors.

Tasia Malakasis, CEO, CO.LAB

Malakasis says while Chattanooga doesn’t match the size of bigger cities like San Francisco and Atlanta, she believes it can match and even outperform resources offered from bigger cities.

“I’ve lived here for a year and a half and I feel deeply connected. I want to play a part in seeing Chattanooga be lifted up so we are the spot,” said Malakasis. “If anyone’s working on a solution in mobility, transportation, logistics, quantum, or anything related under that umbrella, I want them to absolutely think of Chattanooga first.”

CO.LAB Board Chairman, Charlie Brock, added that Chattanooga has pursued resource expansion for the past decade. While the starting point for entrepreneurs wasn’t huge, Brock says now the landscape for entrepreneurship is scaling exponentially.

Charlie Brock, board chairman, CO.LAB

“The amount of established resources for entrepreneurs that we had in 2009 was really minimal,” said Brock. “A lot of us were getting very intentional from 2009-2011 in putting more formalized structures in place for entrepreneurs. It’s fun now to look back and say ‘wow’.”

Fuller says these formalized structures aren’t just for entrepreneurs. From a business standpoint, this also creates a lot of potential for bigger, corporate companies.

“Chattanooga’s ecosystem honestly, in my opinion, is built through startups,” said Fuller. “If that ecosystem doesn’t exist, then it’s going to make it very difficult for those larger companies to be successful.”

The timing of resources isn't the only factor as to why Fuller is transitioning to an executive-in-residence role. He says this is also an ideal period for introducing solutions within the sustainable mobility industry, rather than more questions and problems.

“A lot of these problems have not been solved for 30, 40, or 50 years,” said Fuller. “We’re just getting to that point by leveraging new technology, leveraging AI, and leveraging quantum computing. I think there are a lot of problems that have not been solved in our space that will be solved in the next ten years—and I think Chattanooga can be a leader in that.”

Fuller says he will be ensuring a smooth transition of leadership when stepping down as CEO and president of U.S. Xpress and moving to The Company Lab.

To learn more about The Company Lab or to connect with Eric, you can visit here.

Guest blog courtesy of The Company Lab. More: Read all guest blogs here.

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