Pastor W. Aaron Robbins Sr. and his wife, Laci, take great pride in offering family-supporting jobs to members of Milwaukee’s Black community and others.

“We’re able to offer job sustainability for anyone,” Aaron Robbins said. His family business, A&A Services and Transportation, is always looking for folks who may have struggled in other career paths. “Just because a person does not have a four-year degree doesn’t mean they’re not a quality person.”

The trucking business, which operates as a FedEx subcontractor, was created for and named after Aaron and Laci Robbins’s two teenage children, Ariana and A.J.

“It was about creating a legacy for our children and jobs for our community,” Laci Robbins said.

But before the Robbinses could provide jobs or help the Black community build generational wealth, they had to navigate the world of transportation subcontracting and access capital to build their business.

Local financial resource helps fuel the business

As Aaron and Laci began their business, they relied on help from Milwaukee’s Northwest Side Community Development Corporation (CDC). The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provided the Northwest Side CDC with a $500,000 Capacity Building Grant in 2019 to help build a revolving loan fund; WEDC also assisted with a $60,000 Entrepreneurship Support Grant in 2021.

Northwest Side CDC staff worked with the family to develop a business plan and budget projections.

“It does not intimidate them to go after new business ideas because they understand the financial benefits are not just personal enrichment but more jobs and higher quality of life in the African American community,” said Renata Bunger, the Northwest Side CDC’s business development director, who worked with the couple.

The young company was offered a FedEx route in the West Allis area requiring three Sprinter vans.


 

Many times, in the African American community, we’re told opportunity is available. But it’s not opportunity if I don’t have the resources.”

Pastor W. Aaron Robbins Sr., Owner of A&A Services and Transportation

 


WEDC’s contribution goes far for securing contract

The fledgling business owners found themselves in a tough spot: To get the contract, the company had to have its vans secured and ready to go. But to get financing from the Northwest Side CDC to obtain the vehicles, the company had to have a contract.

So, the couple took $10,000 from their savings account to lease the vans, get the contract and then secure financing. The Northwest Side CDC provided a $56,000 loan.

Their experience highlights the challenges many entry-level entrepreneurs face, especially people of color.

“There’s a barrier of entry because of cash flow,” Laci Robbins said. “Not everybody is able to do that. If we couldn’t take the money out of savings, we would have lost the contract.”

The Northwest Side CDC’s revolving loan fund, started with WEDC grant funding, is designed to help businesses that might not be able to get traditional bank financing.

“The Northwest Side CDC loan was critical to their securing of the FedEx contract,” Bunger said. “There are few opportunities for a startup to secure a loan to win a large company contract.”

On Dec. 5, 2020, A&A’s vans hit the road.

“It was the best feeling to have our guys in the trucks,” Laci Robbins said.


TO SUM UP

Business Owner Idea

To build a Black-owned family trucking company that could employ community members and pay family-supporting wages. The owners, Pastor W. Aaron Robbins Sr. and his wife, Laci, want to pass the business on to their children and help build generational wealth in Milwaukee’s Black community.

To build a Black-owned family trucking company that could employ community members and pay family-supporting wages, that could be passed down to their children and that could help build generational wealth in Milwaukee’s Black community.

WEDC Support

As the Robbinses began their business, they relied on help from Milwaukee’s Northwest Side Community Development Corporation (CDC). The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provided the Northwest Side CDC with a $500,000 Capacity Building Grant in 2019 to help build a revolving loan fund and has also assisted with a $60,000 Entrepreneurship Support Grant in 2021.

The Northwest Side CDC provided A&A Services and Transportation with a $56,000 loan.

The Robbins family relied on a $56,000 revolving loan from Milwaukee’s Northwest Side Community Development Corporation (CDC), which was supported by WEDC’s $500,000 Capacity Building Grant and $60,000 Entrepreneurship Support Grant.

Results

A&A Services and Transportation is a subcontractor working primarily for FedEx. The company works on three separate routes, running three Sprinter vans on a package pickup and delivery route in the West Allis area and two “line haul” routes with two semitrucks, each carrying a double trailer, running from Illinois to the Milwaukee area.

Helpful Resources

WEDC Diverse Business Development

Northwest Side Community Development Corporation

A&A Services and Transportation