Former NFL star Desmond Clark admits his journey from the gridiron as a 12-year veteran, playing seven of those years as a tight end for the Chicago Bears to starting his own brokerage, Bear Down Logistics, has been challenging but said he was determined to succeed in this tumultuous freight market.
At FreightWaves’ Future of Supply Chain event in Cleveland on Wednesday, Clark said he wasn’t aware of the precarious freight conditions when he opened his company more than a year ago, but that he tapped into the determination he developed as a professional football player to succeed in the brokerage industry.
“I’ve been doubted on every level, but on every level I’ve succeeded,” said Clark, who played for the Bears from 2003 to 2010. “I think it’s because, over time, I understand what winning means. When you really understand what winning means — what it means to gain or succeed by struggle — most people don’t want to have to go through that struggle. I embrace the struggle.”
Prior to playing for the Bears, he also played for the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins.
Prior to jumping into the logistics world, Clark said, he wished someone had told him to find a niche commodity and become an expert in that area before branching out his freight brokerage.
“When I first got into it, I was just saying, ‘Give me freight, give me freight,’ but I feel like I could be even further along than I am now if I would have picked a specific commodity and gained knowledge quicker,” he said.
After opening Bear Down Logistics, which has offices in Orlando, Florida, and Chicago, it took Clark six weeks to book his first load. But giving up wasn’t an option.
“When you go out and start making calls, you gotta fake it until you make it,” he said. “I was telling people that I had all of these trucks in your area and I hadn’t booked a load yet and I didn’t have a single truck. I hated every minute of that.”
Now, when Clark talks to his agents, he tells them to “be authentic” and lean into the fact that they are new to the industry. He also advises them to ask questions on the sales calls to learn more about a potential client’s needs.
“The last question that I tell my agents to ask is that when I come back to you, what hurdles do I have to overcome so that you could become a client of mine or I could become a vendor of yours,” Clark said.
Clark said he has learned to do his due diligence when hiring agents to ensure they plan to stay with Bear Down Logistics long term.
“I had to get deep with myself and understand who I wanted to deal with and who I wanted to give my time to, and for me, it’s about focusing on ex-athletes,” Clark said. “I speak a common language with them and I know what type of motivation they have because I understand what they’ve been through.”
Future of Supply Chain
JUNE 21-22, 2023 • CLEVELAND, OH • IN-PERSON EVENT
The greatest minds in the transportation, logistics and supply chain industries will share insights, predict future trends and showcase emerging technology the FreightWaves way–with engaging discussions, rapid-fire demos, interactive sponsor kiosks and more.