By Karen Stokes
Pastor Aaron Robbins and his wife, Dr. Laci Coppins Robbins’, new business, A & A Services and Transportation, was conceived during a discussion around the family table, Thanksgiving 2019.
“We were trying to make determinations on what our next ventures were going to be because we both have had businesses in the past and we also come from families of entrepreneurs,” Coppins Robbins said.
The Robbins family’s other business ventures are the Compel Family Life Center, a Pentecostal church, which Robbins pastors, and Robbins Nest Consulting, Coppins Robbins’ consulting business.
“The conversation turned to logistics and transportation and we thought, we can totally do that,” Coppins Robbins said. “So, the research began and on May 12, 2020 we officially filed our incorporation and launched A & A Transportation.”
A & A Transportation is named after the Robbins’ children Ariana and A.J. The Robbins were thinking about the legacy they can leave for their family.
All the planning occurred in the midst of the pandemic. A time when many businesses struggled and some failed.
A man of faith, Robbins said, “I don’t operate under world concepts, I believe in the kingdom of God. I believe in faith and wherever God leads me that’s where I drive.”
Months later they were the proud owners of A & A Transportation with five trucks.
To start the business, they were assisted by 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 the group with a $60,000 Entrepreneurship Support Grant this year.
“Northwest Side Community Development Corporation (CDC) was instrumental in helping us secure financing and so we worked through the business plan and worked with the Small Business Administration (SBA),” Coppins Robbins said. “The SBA and the Northwest Side CDC was almost like a triad of partnership.”
A & A is more than a business for the Robbins, it’s also a ministry.
“It was about creating a legacy for our children and jobs for our community,” Coppins Robbins said. “Everything’s a ministry for us.”
“So, what A & A has aimed to do, is open an opportunity for those who could perhaps receive employment,” Robbins said. “We want to be able to help people get stable employment. It’s been difficult in our community because people have become overwhelmed with grief, pain and rejection.”
Robbins continued, “Driving a CDL enables you to make a substantial income to take care of you and your family. We’re trying our best to give individuals an opportunity.”
“We’re always hiring, because the thing about the trucking and logistics business is that it’s trucks and people,” Coppins Robbins said. “We have sprinter vans and tractor trailers, the type of vehicles that specialize in CDL Class-A license for that position. We’re always hiring for CDL Class-A drivers. You can visit aatransporting.com or call 414-581-7620. We’d be happy to answer any questions about open positions.”
Logistics and trucking were things that the Robbins had no direct experience in. They learned from research, mentors and observations.
“We learned early on [that] trucking is very white and you don’t see much diversity,” Coppins Robbins said. “This is another situation where we can be an example, that if you want something you can. You can be the owner of your own fleet.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey, just 6.9% of drivers/sales workers and truck drivers were women and only 15% were Black.
A piece of solid advice that Coppins Robbins shared was “Remain consistent. The difference between you and the person who is successful is that they are consistent. A lot of times people miss out on the next opportunity and give up when it’s about to happen. You’ve got to give yourself the gift of time by being consistent to see the ultimate success.”
When looking to the future, Robbins said, “I can see A & A Transportation not only in Milwaukee County but throughout the state of Wisconsin, possibly coast to coast. We don’t believe we should be combined to borders when we serve the God I serve. This is not only a business but a legacy that I can pass onto my children to bring to our community and we can be a blessing to the world.”