Transit Air Cargo: From Golf Course Inspiration to Worldwide Shipping Business

October 30, 2016

It’s not often that a round of golf inspires the launch of an international business, but that’s what happened to Jamshed “Jim” Khodayar in 1989.

Khodayar had been wanting to start his own business when he learned about the shipping industry from a golfing buddy. He opened Transit Air Cargo on Nov. 1, 1989, in Garden Grove, Calif.

While his experience was engineering, not logistics, he was an enthusiastic salesperson. 

In those early days, there were only about five employees in a small office with a few pieces of furniture. Everyone had to chip in and wear multiple hats to get the job done. Clients included technology and music industry companies who had valuable and sensitive products, which needed extra care when shipped.

Fulfilling on client needs always came first for Khodayar. When a customer’s freight was delayed, he chartered a plan to deliver it on time. “We’re not a common carrier; we have trade show expertise and are more like a concierge service,” his daughter Tania said. One of the most unusual items they’ve shipped was Flying Monkey Props from Los Angeles to the Wizard of Oz premiere in Toronto, Canada.

Over the years, TAC also became known for a fun work environment. Khodayar loved a good party and often showed employees up on the dance floor at holiday parties.

“Every Halloween we would have the whole office decked out, especially our conference room, and the costumes were amazing,” said Britni Lopez, marketing manager. “Jim was so lovable and just wanted to make working here fun!”

Jim Khodayar lost his battle with cancer in 2009. But employees and family members rallied to carry the company forward. Jim’s wife, Gulnahaz (known as Gul), stepped in as President. 

A few years later, their daughter Tania was promoted to vice President. In 1997, TAC moved to a 20,000-square-foot facility in Santa Ana. Now they have 50 employees in the U.S. and 20 in four sister locations in Asia.

As a woman-owned company, TAC stands out in the traditionally male-dominated freight industry. In addition to having a woman president and vice president, a majority of the home office managers are women. In fact, most of the company’s employees are women, which earned them certification through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).

In September, TAC hosted the Jim Khodayar Memorial Golf Tournament to benefit the American Cancer Society. The tournament was held at his favorite golf course, Tijeras Creek in Rancho Santa Margarita. Tania recalls, “He would go alone and say he knew at least one of his friends would be there … and there always was!”

One thing that hasn’t changed is the family atmosphere at TAC and the attention to detail for clients. “Today we continue to grow our company and stay true to the values that Jim started TAC off of: Trusted service and care of your freight,” Lopez said.

While TAC ships cargo to over 2,400 shows each year, two of the biggest ones are NAMM and CES, where there are two to four TAC staff onsite throughout the show, from move-in to move-out. Gul herself visits clients on the showfloor.

Lopez added that one major factor in TAC’s success has always been the employees, including a couple of those original five. “Their knowledge and work ethic are some of the best in our industry and people know it,” she said. “TAC wouldn’t be what we are today without each and every employee we have had … they make up who we are and what we promise our customers.”

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