Paul Verst is president and CEO of Verst Group Logistics Inc.
This content is a supplement to our 2018 Largest Logistics Firms list.
Paul Verst knew from the beginning exactly where he wanted to work.
“All my life I dreamed of working in the family business,” Verst, president and CEO of Walton-based Verst Group Logistics Inc., told me. “That was always my passion.”
His dad, Bill Verst, founded the company in 1966 to help other companies move their goods from point A to point B. Paul Verst got plenty of exposure to the company from a young age. By the time he was 12 or 13, he worked there on weekends. It wasn’t glamorous – he cleaned floors and restrooms and washed tractors and trailers. But he was hooked.
The company has grown plenty — it’s now the second-largest logistics firm in Greater Cincinnati.
And all of that early experience? It’s helped Verst run the company. Even when he started working full-time, he moved around, filling roles as a mechanic and accountant, among others, before becoming vice president, executive vice president and then CEO in 1993.
“There are very few positions I haven’t had, which helps in making long-term decisions to continue growing the business,” he said. “And it doesn’t work if anybody tries to pull the wool over my eyes.”
The logistics industry is highly competitive. How does Verst set itself apart?
We are very proud of our ability to respond quickly to our customers and employees and our ability to innovate. We utilize a lean management structure that is composed of talented leadership from the Verst family as well as from the industry. As a result, we are able to make decisions quickly without the need to clear multiple layers of management.
What are the biggest challenges you and your company face?]
Within the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati area, we continue to be challenged finding available and viable land for development. Often, restrictive environmental regulations extend project development timelines and may make some projects less viable or impossible.
Why do you have the career you have?
From the time I was old enough, my dad would take us into work on the weekends, and we would do manual labor, including sweeping floors, cleaning restrooms, washing tractors and trailers. I was able to see all aspects of the logistics business and learned to appreciate the work ethic required to be successful. You could say that logistics got into my blood early in life. I thought it was the greatest profession in the world, next to golf and being a country music singer.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Without a doubt, it would be Northern Michigan, and in particular, Charlevoix, a small town north of Traverse City. It is like a slice of heaven and a place I can get away to and just relax.
You’ve just been given $100,000 to donate to charity. Which and why?
We cherish our Catholic faith, education and the youth, who are the future of our community, so much of our focus is on Catholic high schools and colleges.
What traits do you most value in your friends?
Trust, honesty and embracing me for who I am, despite the flaws I have.
What’s always in your refrigerator at home?
Graeter’s ice cream, Girl Scout cookies, yogurt and fresh fruit from Michigan.
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday?
I love the yard so either cutting the grass or doing yard work. I find these activities to be great stress relievers after a busy work week.
Title: CEO and president, Verst Group Logistics Inc.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting and MBA in management, Xavier University
Family: Wife and three children
Residence: Cold Spring
Career path: He’s spent 41 years at Verst Logistics, working for his dad when he started out, and longer if you count the weekends he pitched in as a kid. He did almost everything there, starting with tasks like cleaning floors, and rose to vice president, executive vice president and eventually CEO in 1993.