CLDA Magazine - Fall 2016 1 - Page 29

F E AT U R E 29 New CLDA President John Benko Knows How to Deliver     BY ANDREA OBSTON, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS, CLDA                                      After more than three decades in the business, John Benko has delivered everything from lost luggage to live tropical fish to a heart to wine, flour and dog food. Chances are if you’ve or- dered something on-line from a major retailer, John’s had a hand in getting it to your door. And now, he has another ac- complishment to add to his re- sume. He is the new President of the CLDA. He was elected at the May Annual Meeting and will serve in that position for two years. John is the Director of Opera- tions for Pace a multi-regional customized logistics solutions provider based in Birmingham. They provide final-mile, courier and customized logistics servi- ces. He brings over 30 years of expe- rience to the position and has been involved with the asso- ciation for over a decade. Pre- viously he served as the CLDA’s First Vice President and chaired the Government Affairs; Mem- bership; Vendor and State Asso- ciation Committees. As president of the CLDA Bo- ard of Directors John supports the association’s emphasis on creating business opportunities for members; deepening its rela- tionship with others in the supply chain; moving legislative efforts forward on behalf of members and presenting its two major industry meetings in the spring and fall. AN EX-AIRLINE GUY John’s been moving people and things around since 1984. That’s when he started work for Piedmont Airlines. “I did everything other than fuel ‘em and fly ‘em,” says this former customer service rep. John started his career “throwing bags and driving tickets,” he recalls. He worked his way up to supervisor, shift manager and departmental manager(s). When Piedmont was taken over by US Air, they closed Tallahassee as a mainline station where John worked and moved him to Charlotte, NC, Philadelphia, PA and finally Tampa, FL. It was there that the idea to start a business began to take shape. “I was the customer service manager we used an an outside company to de- liver lost luggage that had to go to customers’ homes,” he recalls. “The company wasn’t doing a very good job. Delivering bags was an ancil- lary business for them and frankly, I don’t think they cared much about the kind of job they were doing on this part of their business. I wasn’t alone. All the managers at the Tam- pa airport were in the same boat. I couldn’t even get the vendor to come see me about my issues. When they did finally meet with me they told me they couldn’t do any better. So, I decided to deve- lop a business model to do the job myself. For six months, I did that on top of my regular job and we were doing very well. It was clear I couldn’t continue to do both jobs. I went home and told my wife Sandra that I would be delivering lost luggage for a living. After she recovered from shock, she would say. ‘I know you would never do anything to hurt us, let’s do this’ and MANKO Delivery Systems Inc. was born in 1999.” BEYOND THE LUGGAGE John knew he had to move more than lost luggage if MANKO was to th rive. For the next five years he, grew the business. “I knew I wasn’t’ going to retire on delive- ring lost luggage. So we went to Customized Logistics and Delivery Association | Fall 2016