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The BluePrint

The Great Outdoors with Jeff Lavallee


BlueGrace Logistics has many active lifestyle franchisees, but franchise owner of BlueGrace Jacksonville, Jeff Lavallee, is known for his love of the outdoors. He and his family have a huge 37ft. fifth wheel camper. With a luxurious comfortable camper like that who wants to go back to work? Lavallee was one of the first to join the BlueGrace franchise network and has been successfully growing the brand since 2011. He has been in the distribution and freight business since 1997 and that’s where he fell in love with the industry, and decided to make it a business of his own. Lavallee found interest in the BlueGrace franchise opportunity because “BlueGrace Logistics has the best reputation in the industry as well as superior internal leadership qualities,” says Lavallee. When becoming a franchise owner he knew he might have to balance his passion for freight and his love for the outdoors. He knew he would still have time to do everything he wanted, just was unsure of how much time. Fishing, Camping, Clamming, Scalloping, you name it, Lavallee loves to do it! “Of course every franchise owner wants to obtain financial freedom, but mostly I think the goal is allowing yourself to have no restrictions,” says Lavallee, “it falls in line with the ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality”. He has formulated a technique that has allowed him to still take vacations and grow his business 44% since 2013. Whether you work hard in the morning and take off the rest of the day, or you work double and overtime through the beginning of the week and take off the rest of the week, you always have to make sure your work, job and livelihood come first. Though Lavallee has 12 employees, he still believes that he has to take charge and set an example so the team can follow his lead. He is looking forward to scalloping season to start, so he is preparing now to make sure goals and expectations will be met. Lavallee is seeking to expand his office over the next few months, and during that time he won’t be vacationing, so this will be his last summer shindig before big business starts!

“It’s important to work hard and take work serious, but when doing so, you need to allow yourself to still have time to let loose and break free from work, to enjoy your life,” says Lavallee.

The Napkin Presentation

Randy Vlasic, Franchise Owner of BlueGrace ORD is a funny dude. We certainly get a kick out of his random calls, Tweets or phone calls. Last week, we were in for a surprise. As we were connecting with our network on Twitter, we saw that Randy posted an image of his Napkin Presentation. He met with a client earlier that day and connected with them on an entirely different level. This was an instance where the client relationship reigned in the moment. Had he broken out a PowerPoint or even a video, he probably wouldn’t have had the same impact as he did with this drawing. What we can learn from Randy’s napkin presentation:

I. Don’t rely on technology to engage with your customers: Face-to-Face Meetings are always the best. It’s important to recognize an opportunity to get in front of your customer. Technology can feel impersonal if it’s all you rely on. Can’t visit? Pick up the phone and have a chat.

II. Have a good time discussing business. According to Randy, THEY LAUGHED THE ENTIRE TIME. If you truly love what you do then this will come naturally. Don’t let the conversation run dry. Remember Core Value #1: Be Happy & Have Fun. Your customers will notice.

III. Don’t Force Creativity you don’t need to have excellent drawing skills (just ask Randy). But getting your message across in a way that is digestible and engaging is important. Be prepared, but don’t rehearse your entire conversation.

Going into the napkin presentation, he already knew what lanes he was proposing to run, prepared for it and going into it with rounded rates.

He went in completely prepared to give one of the best presentations. With freight spend in mind, and showing how to save time and money– he calculated about $130K in savings! The Napkin Presentation is a great way to show value and it breaks the ice when you’re drawing elementary like pictures for an adult conversation, people laughed at how bad the drawings were, but they LOVED the detail they were given about their business.

The Napkin Presentation helps build credibility for the customer. You’re directly showing them what they’re spending and what they could potentially save with a powerful partner like BlueGrace instead versus the competition.

Randy’s strategy is adding BG in the mix and showing their current situation with their existing process and provider, cost savings we could provide, and consolidation.

Good interaction with the customer gives them something to hold on to and to see. If you keep your customer laughing all through the presentation, you know you’re driving the conversation. Here’s an example of how you can showcase your own hand-drawn-Napkin Presentation:

The Napkin Presentation by Randy Vlasic, BG ORD Franchise Owner

1. Start with an unhappy face stick figure and give him a name. List the process of using all the carriers, companies and loads. (Randy drew all trucks, 5 different companies and 5 loads)

2. Show the business owner emailing all the load tenders to the carrier. Show the carrier responding “yes or no.” and somehow show the back and forth conundrum when a company has to decide what provider to go with.

3. Show what the business has to do to manage their own loads with 4 labeled plates (ie: audit invoicing, tracking and tracing, importing and consolidation, etc.) This process is time consuming so your customers will relate.

4. Show your customers the benefits of working with BlueGrace and start with a happy stick figure. Label your benefits in no more than two plates like he did in the above example (ie: “Consolidation” and “Import”). Whatever the benefits are for fitting the situation but keep it simple.

“My customers laugh the whole time. I want to give my customers something to remember.”

Teach your customers about what other companies don’t want them to know. Give them a reason to laugh and have a good time. Business meetings aren’t expected to be fun, but if you can lighten the mood it adds value to the customer relationship. The Napkin Presentation is more than just stick figures, you’re providing and entire proposal in front of a prospect without a stack of boring paperwork.


For more information on The Napkin Presentation fill out the form below to contact Randy Vlasic, Franchise Owner of BG ORD.


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Up in ARM’s for BlueGrace South Jersey


Sometimes, you just need to take things into your own hands if you want something done right. That’s what BlueGrace Franchise Owner, Jason Eckhardt and his wife Sherri did five years ago when they decided to create a charity that in their eyes would truly make a difference for the betterment of breast cancer survivors and research. In 2009, Jason Eckhardt came up with an idea that would support his wife Sherri in a way she never imagined.

In 1983, Sherri’s mother, Arlene Ruccio Meyer passed away from breast cancer. It was only 2 days after her 35th birthday and 3 days before Christmas. Sherri was only 5-years old and didn’t understand the impact her mother’s death would have on her life until she reached adulthood. Her mother was diagnosed in 1981 and doctors told her she only had two months to live. After undergoing treatment and much to her surprise, she was able to spend another 2 years with her family. Little did she know her future son-in-law would come up with an idea that would benefit families who were faced with her tragic circumstance, all the while supporting of her daughter… his wife, Sherri.

EckhardtFamily 01

“You don’t understand the loss as a kid. It means so much more to me (having my mother around) now that I’m a mother,” says Sherri Eckhardt.

On the 25th anniversary of Arlene’s passing, Jason wanted to go above and beyond for the purpose of remembering his wife’s late mother. As he was contemplating his master plan, he came up with “ARM’s Away.” He took this idea to the golf course in the form of a charitable event using “ARM’s” as an acronym representing the initials of Arlene’s full name. In addition, they created their own acronym that would give the charity a global meaning: Awareness. Research. Making a Difference.

When he first presented it to Sherri they had no idea just how successful this would become. The first year of ARM’s Away was raising $5,000 and they exceeded their expectations by raising $7,500. Each year they set goals to raise money and each year they surpass them. Just last year, the Eckhardt’s set a goal to raise $15,000 at the 5th Annual ARM’s Away Golf Outing and they raised over $17,000! To date, Jason and Sherri have raised over $68,000 and have gained the support of businesses, individuals and families from all over the state of New Jersey. But their biggest-little supporters live with them… they are their kids.

Today, Sherri is a mother of two beautiful children (son, Austin, 6; daughter, Kylie, 3) who don’t quite comprehend what a charity stands for or means for that matter. All they know is that it’s for Grandma and that ARM’s Away helps people get better. That alone encourages them to give to the greater good of breast cancer research. They are active participants and donate to ARM’s Away themselves. Last year, their 6 year-old sons Austin, earned tips for work he had done during the event and on his own took every penny to the event’s donation center because “he wanted to make a difference too.”


All proceeds raised at the event are donated to the Stacy Goldstein Breast Cancer Center at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Rutgers uses the donations for two very powerful reasons: to enhance the technology used in treatment and to support patients who need assistance to be treated themselves. The center unites scientists from several disciplines to focus on the causes, detection, prevention, and treatment of breast cancer. Today, you can visit Rutgers University and see a Wall of Remembrance, which recognizes the years of donations ARM’s Away has provided to their initiatives. BlueGrace is proud to be a sponsor of this great event and hopes that this year they can once again surpass their goals.

“My husband (Jason Eckhardt) and my Dad should win the MEN OF THE YEAR award because of all they’ve done to help bring this charity to fruition. Without their help, support and guidance it would never be possible,” says Sherri Eckhardt.

To donate to the ARM’s Away charity, please visit:

The 50th Franchise Benchmark

In May, BlueGrace awarded its 50th franchise, BlueGrace Olympia! New franchise owners Stacey Harold and Logan Plassman stopped by our Tampa office for franchise training and sat with us for a few minutes to talk about their new journey with BlueGrace.

Harold and Plassman are originally from Michigan, lived in Tennessee and found their way to Olympia, Washington in 2006. They describe Olympia as a “very environmental and beautifully landscaped city” where everyone is friendly, laid back and easy going.

They aren’t your average business partners. They are a mother-son team who decided to join forces with BlueGrace. Plassman wanted to build a legacy for himself and eventually for his children. His passion and determination inspired his mother to partner up with him.

Harold previously worked in transportation and decided to research different franchise opportunities with her son Logan. They researched all types of opportunities from fast food chains to cleaning services but found BlueGrace and felt it was a perfect fit.

Both Harold and Plassman are honored to have been awarded our 50th franchise; ready to be in business for themselves hiring talent and building their success.

“We have high end 5-year goals: looking to expand to an office and gain employees – Gain Traction,” says Logan-Plassman, BlueGrace Olympia Franchise Owner.

We asked what the most important thing to them was as a new franchise owner.

”Everything is important,” says Plassman “but getting out, networking and building rapport with customers is the most important thing we’ve learned.”


Pictured from left to right: Stacey Harold and Logan Plassman, franchise owners of BlueGrace Olympia
Pictured from left to right: Stacey Harold and Logan Plassman, franchise owners of BlueGrace Olympia

Of course, there are many challenges when operating a new franchise. They’re aware that at the beginning they will make mistakes, but they’re ready to face them head-on.

“We will make mistakes and learn from them, turn around and attack them,” says Plassman, “we’re looking forward to this awesome opportunity. Looking forward to making it work and making it successful. We’re going to be partners and include ourselves in outside sales.”

When asked if they could give any advice to someone who is considering applying for a BlueGrace Logistics franchise, Harold said, “If considering it, go for it. I have never seen a culture or company so welcoming and supportive. Your success is their success.”

For BlueGrace Headquarters this is a great accomplishment. We have repositioned our process to consider those who are a perfect culture fit and the shoe fits for Team Olympia.

As we continue to expand our network across the country, we’re looking to develop franchises in markets where our footprint does not exist. Some of the markets we’re seeking to expand are St. Joseph, Michigan; New York State; Toledo, Ohio; Denver, Colorado, and Salt Lake City, Utah to name a few.

The 50th franchise benchmark came extremely fast as we’ve only been franchising since 2011. The BlueGrace Franchise Development Team is filling their pipeline with eager candidates each day. However it’s important they take our time with each interested party. From an initial call, 1st Interview with Leadership, Final Interview (which takes place at our office) and researching credentials the process is in-depth but assures a fit for all involved.

For more information on BlueGrace Franchise Opportunities, visit




June’s Franchise of the Month: Jason Eckhardt BlueGrace South Jersey

Jason Eckhardt leads a franchise that is a consistent chart-topper. His leadership style is fun, outgoing, yet well-planned and extremely productive. He now has a team of 7 employees and has grown his franchise by 70% over the past year. Jason has been a franchise since 2011, when BlueGrace began offering the business opportunity and he hasn’t looked back since.

“I’d like to thank the Academy…just kidding. Being Franchise of the Month is quite an honor. I’m proud of my team for the success we’ve experienced since we opened BlueGrace New Jersey South” says Eckhardt.

Jason Eckhardt, CEO of BlueGrace South Jersey
Jason Eckhardt, CEO of BlueGrace South Jersey

“You have one new friend request!”


Do you get excited when a new friend request pops up on Facebook? Love to share “what’s on your mind” and pictures from last weekend? What if I told you that the request is from a co-worker or colleague? Or worse, your MANAGER!! The company’s CEO??? HECK NO!

That’s the reaction most people have when it comes to adding co-workers to Facebook, but is that also the case when working for a company with an open social media policy? That’s a question I asked myself since I started working here. It’s also a trending topic in the business world, so we decided to address it internally. Being a new employee at BlueGrace Logistics made me wonder just how much the open social media policy affected the “at work friend request,” so I went on a mission to find out how BlueGrace employees feel about adding people in the workplace to Facebook.

I spoke to several people throughout the office, and shockingly most of them are completely comfortable and OK adding co-workers to Facebook.

“Facebook is a really personal thing, a lot of people use it to put their personal selves out there and actually show who they are,” says National Sales Representative, Cory Comly, “If you hide that from the people at work, then you’re not letting them actually get to know you. Letting your boss know who you are outside of the cubicle is a way to let him/her connect with you, find out what you like and see what kind of things you have in common. Social media is a good way to build relationships,” says Cory Comly, National Sales Representative.

A couple of people, however, are not excited about exposing their personal lives to others in the company. “Have you ever heard the expression ‘people be creeping’?” says NSR, Danielle Hunter. She’s referring to those who look through their Facebook friend’s pictures and statuses (also known as every Facebook user out there.)

“It’s a real thing, and I would rather not be a part of it,” says Hunter.

Hunter does have a point, adding co-workers to Facebook is basically the same as letting them in to your life, letting them know who you really are, and if you’re adding them to social media you have to be completely ok with that. But, you work at BlueGrace where culture and a family atmosphere are a top priority, so why hide it?

“We spend most time at work anyways,” says Senior Sales Manager, Dustin Snipes “we might as well get to know each other.”

After hearing the different opinions on this, I decided that if I’m planning on being with  this company for the long haul, I might as well really let everyone into my life.

“When you actually start to show people at work who you are outside of work, you are able to connect with them a lot easier,” says Comly. “And that’s what I did. I accepted my friend requests and added a few others. Those who I work with and are friends with me on Facebook know not only my professional side, but also who I really am.”

So next time you receive an “in the office friend request” think about all of our core values and decide for yourself.

Cory Comly, NSR
Cory Comly, NSR
Danielle Hunter, NSR
Danielle Hunter, NSR
Dustin Snipes, Senior Sales Manager
Dustin Snipes, Senior Sales Manager
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