America’s SBDC Iowa is an outreach program of Iowa State University’s Ivy College of Business and the Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations. Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Norsemen Trucking, Lake Mills
America’s Small Business Development Center Iowa (SBDC) is pleased to announce that Norsemen Trucking, of Lake Mills, is the winner of the organization’s statewide June Small Business of the Month Award.
Norsemen Trucking was founded by David Steffens Sr. after retiring from his first career in law enforcement. He started with a single truck, then purchased a trucking company in Waseca, MN, moving the entire operation to Lake Mills, IA in 1981. Norsemen Trucking (along with Norsemen Transportation and Norsemen Specialized) is now a complete Logistics Company, with a fleet of 55 trucks with company drivers, 40 owner-operators, and a variety of agents specializing in all traffic lanes.
Steffens, Jr. says that Norsemen’s key founding principle has always been customer service. “Customer service is something that we thought was lacking in the trucking industry and felt that we would be rewarded if we were able to provide it,” he explains. One of their early customers, a US Postal Service mail contract, became one of their enduring examples. The lessons learned by starting with the mail contract – a highly important public service that demands excellent service and commitment to a strict schedule – helped Norsemen develop a specific customer-oriented mindset and apply it to the freight business when their customer base began to expand. David says, “It’s really important to do what we say we’re going to do. If you do that, you’ll be rewarded in the bad times.”
David serves on the North Iowa Area Community College board which has given him an opportunity to make a difference in the community. “NIACC supports so many different things in our community from performing arts to training our workforce to provide a cost-effective way for our youth to advance in educational opportunities,” he says.
David has a few words of advice for entrepreneurs starting a business. He says, “Who are your customers? The most important thing isn’t your great idea. It isn’t your ability to raise money. It is are you able to sell your product? Are you going to be able to sell your service? I think the single biggest reason people fail is they don’t have that part of their business really nailed down.”