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Athens business, QuickLoadz, awarded $15,000 from Amazon

QuickLoadz's logo displayed on a shipping container that sits at the entrance of QuickLoadz Container System on Industrial Park Rd. Nov. 14, 2023, in Athens, Ohio

Every year, Amazon awards 15 small businesses a cash grant, and one Athens-founded business was the only Ohio applicant to win.

Of over 35,000 applicants, Amazon awarded a grant to QuickLoadz. Located at 5850 Industrial Park Drive, QuickLoadz builds and sells automated trailers and truck beds that move heavily loaded ISO shipping containers. ISO containers are cargo containers used to ship products via trucks, boats or trains.

Not only is QuickLoadz the only Ohio business to win, but it is also the only heavy equipment manufacturer.

“We are the only company in the world that builds a trailer that can automatically load and unload,” Sean Jones, chief executive officer and founder of QuickLoadz, said.

Chief financial officer of QuickLoadz, Bridget Lair, said Amazon is coming to film a documentary about the company. 

“They’re going to come here and spend a day and a half doing documentary footage and put it all together,” Lair said. “That’s really exciting that this small business team (is) recognized. Our company could potentially be very important.”

QuickLoadz does things a little differently. Simply by pushing a button from your phone, you can minimize the time and effort of loading and unloading goods or cargo. 

“With us, they could save billions of dollars if they just put the container straight on the ground and skip all of those hours of transloading and skip all the damage,” Lair said.

QuickLoadz was first incorporated in 2013, but Jones had been prototyping since 2008. 

“We didn’t incorporate until the patents were granted and an outside marketing company said that they thought our total addressable market could be in the hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars,” Lair said.

In 2023, QuickLoadz went from using a gasoline-fueled engine to an electric power pack with solar panels. The next step is to build the trailer into a hybrid. 

“You can turn the whole thing into a hybrid electric trailer so that the idea is that on downhill the thing would charge itself; on uphill it’ll help push, and we started working on that as the next step,” Jones said.

The grant Amazon had awarded them was $15,000. 

“They said they found our innovation and our story in terms of the way that we have grown the business, just Sean and me right from the bottom up as really being impactful,” Lair said. “Both for the local community because we’re creating jobs and high-tech, advanced heavy manufacturing in Athens, but also that it could have a global impact.” 

Jones proudly said they would use that money to raise even more money. He also said they will do a crowdfunding campaign.

“We’re currently in that stage of growth of production,” Jones said. “Production is our biggest bottleneck still. We’re just trying to grow as fast as we can because the demand is there and it literally could change the way everything the world moves.”

QuickLoadz is one of the small businesses that the Ohio Export Internship Program, or OEIP, partners with. The OEIP is an internship program to create a workforce that helps Ohio expand exports, builds students’ global competencies and makes a difference for Ohio businesses.

“Our goal is to help support small businesses and grow small businesses because they’re kind of the backbone of industry,” export assistance advisor for the Ohio University Small Business Development Center, Donald Hackney, said.

Hackney said Ohio is a strong exporter, and there is a lot of industry here that is important for the country and jobs.

“Particularly in the Appalachian region of Ohio, we’re trying to grow business and, especially for me, we’re trying to grow exports,” Hackney said. “One of the reasons they added OU to this program is because this part of the state (is where) we’re trying to get a broader workforce, more exports, more business.”

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