DD Logistics Graduates Incubato


    MUSKEGON HEIGHTS — If there’s one regret Denise Kanaar has about her business, D&D Logistics, it’s that she didn’t start it 30 years ago.

    Kanaar, who started the freight brokering company in April 2005, said she is glad that she took the opportunity and encourages others to do the same.

    “It’s a scary thing, but it’s good to take on challenges and be adventurous and try things, because you just never know, it might just be your niche out there,” she said. “It’s definitely mine.”

    Since December 2005, Kanaar has grown her business from three employees to five, and has grown her client list from five to 15, bringing her sales from $3 million in the period between April and December 2005 to more than $10 million in 2006. Her clients include Kohl’s department store, Johnson Controls and Old Orchard Brands.

    Kanaar and Larry Van Haitsma, D&D Logistics’ dispatcher who has 20 years of experience in transportation and has been with the company from the beginning, both realized they were ready to take a step forward in their careers. Kanaar, who worked for 30 years with the MuskegonAreaIntermediateSchool District, wanted a change from education.

    “I knew I wanted to be done with teaching, and I was looking for a different career,” she said.

    Kanaar said the work is very different from teaching. Instead of set hours, she is on call 24 hours a day. Keeping lines of communication open between herself, her carriers and her customers has been an important aspect of making the business successful, she said.

    “If there’s a problem, we get on it immediately,” Kanaar said. “We put out the fires before they become blazing infernos.”

    After expanding the space leased in the Muskegon Area First Whetstone Project business incubator in MuskegonHeights, Kanaar expanded further, taking over the space from the business incubator and allowing several tenants to stay in their space for little or no rent.

    “It’s phenomenal to see something like that happen in such a short time,” said Eugenia Hill-Brown, business development specialist and former Whetstone manager at Muskegon Area First, about the growth of D&D. “I think they are an example of entrepreneurship.”

    Hill-Brown said D&D Logistics has embodied the hopes of what a business can become through the resources of a business incubator.

    “That’s the goal: to help a company and provide resources when they can’t afford to take them on at the start of the business,” she said. “I think they’re model examples of entrepreneurs here in our county. We’re very proud of them as an establishment.”

    Kanaar has also branched out professionally, joining the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council as a certified woman-owned business and also serving on the Women’s Business Enterprise certification committee to help certify other businesses owned by women.

    A second D&D Logistics office opened in Arizona in September to better meet the needs of customers in that area of the country, and Kanaar said that will not be the last branch office.

    “Eventually, we’re going to decide where the need is and put an office or two in different parts of the United States,” she said.

    Kanaar said D&D Logistics has also started doing some warehousing, storing merchandise for a limited time on its property. Kanaar said the firm began offering the service in response to a need from its customer base.

    Kanaar has also started a trailer leasing company, D&L Leasing, with the 26 trailers that her company owns.

    To help support other area businesses, Kanaar said she tries to work with local trucking companies as much as possible, including D&B Trucking in Muskegon and Sweet Express Trucking in Grand Rapids

    “We do a lot of business in the West Michigan area because we want to keep these people gainfully employed also,” she said.

    For other entrepreneurs who are considering taking a chance on a new business, Kanaar said to go ahead and take it — but take it slowly.

    “You don’t go in running; you walk in and then you can run with it,” she said. “No one gets anywhere if you don’t take a chance.”    

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