“I worked hard to get here,” says Megan Smith, CEO of Symbia Logistics. “It may not matter what people think of you, but if you want to be respected, you need to work hard and prove yourself. And hard work is what pays off.”
Megan Smith traces her entrepreneurial roots back to the year 2006 when she opened a business in Denver’s historic district. The big challenge came when she wound up getting a lot of pushback from a few long-time nearby business owners who didn’t like some of her ideas for generating neighborhood traffic. “Overcoming that resistance helped to shape me as a leader,” reveals Smith. Her entrepreneurial experience was a herald of achievements to come.
She started and sold multiple businesses and learned to find opportunities in the most challenging of situations. And when in 2009 she recognized the opportunity to fulfill a niche in the logistics world, she decided to build on the family’s business legacy success of over 150 combined years, and propel it to its next level of growth. By diversifying the ownership of the company through a Women’s Business Enterprise Certification, they achieved certification from the NWBOC in 2014 and she stepped into the new role.
Today as the CEO of the company, Smith capitalizes on her abilities — to bring to the table empathy, a high tolerance for risk-taking, strong verbal and written communication skills, and a desire to be different — to keep Symbia on the fast lane to success.
“No matter the industry, people are the key to the company’s success.”
Shaping the Future of Shipping
Symbia Logistics began as Amware Logistics in 1989 to develop customized solutions and processes for logistics clients. In 2016, Pallet Management Services, a subsidiary of Amware Logistics, rebranded to become Symbia Logistics. Colorado-based Symbia, as a third-party logistics provider, manages the “back-end” of businesses — the warehousing and fulfillment (pick, pack, and ship) process — and moves the products from the manufacturer to its customers. The services include e-commerce order fulfillment, warehousing and distribution, dedicated warehousing and outsourced logistics. On top of that, they offer custom kitting and subscription box fulfillment services. Symbia also aims to offer white glove service. “Our customers usually have special packaging or shipping needs, whether it is an odd shaped box or they want personalized packaging,” highlights Smith. “We are able to customize the high-touch picking and packing to meet customer standards, which isn’t the case for all fulfillment companies.” At present, the company operates in 25 locations across the US and Canada, including 18 dedicated service centers for CHEPAmericas, and provides facility-based supply chain support to a variety of industries including dry grocery, aerospace, chemical, kitting, industrial goods; a number of niche industries including nutraceuticals, beauty, sporting goods, healthcare, apparel; and direct-to-consumer fulfillment services.
However 10 years back when Smith enthusiastically took the reins she had no idea of the challenges that would come her way in the male-dominated logistics industry. “Women are critical to Symbia’s operations, so it didn’t occur to me that there were few women in leadership positions. I didn’t notice I was different,” says Smith. “When I first began working in the business and its operations, I was oblivious to the number of men in the C-suite. It wasn’t until I interacted within the executive space that I realized I was in a unique position.” But she thinks as a woman in this space it is having the confidence to look at people in the eye and treat them with understanding and respect that has benefited her and that’s how she has been of benefit to the company. “No matter the industry, people are the key to the company’s success,” says Smith. “I’m really passionate about our people. I’m passionate about them being treated fairly. I’m passionate about getting people to a place where they not only love working for Symbia, but they also see a future for themselves. When we’re doing that to the best of our ability, there’s no doubt the customer receives the first-class service.” Another factor that helped Smith to get at the top her game she believes is learning. A graduate of the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business in Management, Entrepreneurship, and Logistics, she will soon receive her master’s degree from Michigan State University’s world-renowned Supply Chain Management program. “This may seem very specialized, but Supply Chain Management is one of the fastest growing industries,” adds Smith. “I’m a lifelong learner and further positioning myself as an expert in this field will only elevate Symbia and my team.” By focusing on Symbia’s strengths she has guided the company to unprecedented levels and made Symbia a formidable force in logistics. Having said that, she shares career advice she received that also reflects her own choices throughout her journey “Don’t sweat the small stuff; you’re doing big things!”
Megan Smith, CEO, Symbia Logistics
But her commitment to the business comes with sacrifice. As the mother of two young children, they too are her top priority. And finding the right balance is hard. “Fortunately, the strong support system I have from my family is critical because it allows me to put in the time and travel required to continue growing Symbia at a rapid clip.” When she’s able to sneak in a little downtime, Smith and her family hit the road to do all the quintessential things Colorado has to offer. At other times she heads to Kebler Corner to stay in a cabin and spend her days near the river. She does a lot of community outreach and feels humbled in giving back to the community. “Getting involved in nonprofits and charities, like LLS and Boys Hope Girls Hope, has been a blessing,” says Smith. “I’ve also met incredible women running the show at their organizations.” She also likes to constantly engage herself with new ways of thinking by being an avid reader. She recently completed the book Great by Choice by Jim Collins. “The book is an incredible analysis of top influencing companies and the choices their leaders made to get there,” says Smith. When asked if, given the opportunity with whom she would like to dine out, Smith says it will be Martha Stewart. “I briefly met her in 2016 and would absolutely love to discuss how she has managed to make a massive business out of her personal passions,” says Smith. “From our brief meeting and the stories she shared with our group, I could tell we have a lot in common; she is the epitome of passion, hard work, and dedication.”
Though Smith is embarking on her career with her typical passion, she still has another ambition. A huge music fan she enjoys taking in all the area’s outdoor concerts, and music festivals. In fact, she has even been known to do a bit of karaoke! She fully intends to make time to pursue her personal passions before turning 40 which include song writing and singing. “I haven’t even scratched the surface of my entrepreneurial pursuits and these are on my horizon,” says Smith. “My legacy will transpire through song and books. I believe the lessons I’ve learned in business and life will best be translated into these forms and live for generations to come.”
As a family person to the core, her endgame is to be happy and peaceful on a family property that her children will always call home. “I also want them to always see themselves as my greatest achievement and life’s work,” concludes Smith.