On Friday, the media was invited to meet the team at Corps Logistics at its facility at 2900 Waterview Ave in Westport. Corps Logistics is the veteran-owned and veteran-run company that is subcontracted by Bewegen Technologies and Baltimore City to operate Baltimore’s BikeShare program which launched in the fall.
Corps Logistics was started in 2013 by Jim Duffney, a first sergeant in the New Jersey Air National Guard, with a goal of creating job opportunities for veterans. Corps Logistics was awarded the contract for Baltimore BikeShare in 2015, after which Duffney began to assemble his team and find a location to operate the business.
He met Sagamore Development’s Erin May, who offered Corps Logistics a free place to operate at a former Westport concrete facility which was owned by Sagamore. “We wanted to help Baltimore BikeShare, and we liked Jim’s passion and his desire to work with The Baltimore Station (TBS),” said May. TBS has locations in South Baltimore and Sandtown, and provides a residential treatment program for about 355 homeless veterans struggling with substance abuse every year.
The property is part of a 43-acre waterfront parcel Sagamore acquired in a 2015 auction, and was once the site of the proposed multi-billion Westport Waterfront redevelopment. Corps Logistics is the first tenant for Sagamore at Westport, and no additional plans have been revealed for the parcel at this time. Sagamore is currently undertaking a multi-decade, 266-acre redevelopment of Port Covington, located across the Middle Branch from Westport.
Corps Logistics’ property includes a small building, where the team works on the Baltimore BikeShare bikes and runs its call center, and a large yard. “We did what veterans do: we came in as a team, cleaned up the building, and got it ready for use,” said Duffney. The facility was up and running in July and leaves the team a lot of room for growth.
Corps Logistics now has a team of 20 veterans who assemble and fix Baltimore BikeShare’s fleet of 250 bikes, which will soon grow to 500; assemble and maintain stations; and handle billing and customer service. “Every day we see every bike,” said Duffney.
Corps Logistics has been awarded additional contracts as it is currently setting up a 70-bike, seven-station program in Howard County; a 90-bike, nine-station program in Summit County (Park City), Utah; and a 220-bike, 20-station program in Richmond, VA. It is also responding to many bike share RFPs around the country.
As Corps Logistics grows, it will keep its headquarters in Baltimore but will set up local offices in other cities. Duffney said the team is growing and hopes to have 100 employees in Baltimore in the next couple years.
The Corps Logistics’ team is comprised of 12 employees from TBS. “Helping homeless veterans is the most rewarding thing,” said Duffney. “I want them to know they are loved and cared for. Over the years so many people have offered to help them and have let them down.” Duffney said he creates an environment where they feel like they are back in the military.
At Corps Logistics, SouthBMore.com met Baltimore native Ivan “Bike Man” Baylor, a veteran of the United States Army. Baylor described serving overseas in Germany and Korea and being haunted by the memory of seeing a Korean soldier run over and killed by a tank during a drill. “That memory sticks with me to this day,” he said. “I began drinking constantly, and my memory started to go bad. I became homeless and lost everything.”
He entered the program at TBS and has now been sober for more than a year, and has been working with Corps Logistics since October. “I’ve now realized there are better things in life. I’ve been given a second chance,” he said. “It’s beautiful.”
SouthBMore.com also met Angel Frias, who is from Baltimore and who is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Frias was homeless for about a year before joining the program at TBS. Frias is bilingual in Spanish and English and serves as a customer service rep for Baltimore BikeShare, joining the team in November. “After I left the military I felt like I wasn’t giving back to the community. I was in and out of jobs and had no direction,” he said. “Joining Corps Logistics has been amazing. I get to bring my skills from the military into the workforce.”
“This is finally a job opportunity that can grow,” Frias added. He told the media his family can see his accomplishments every time they see a BikeShare bike in Baltimore.
“A lot of our veterans really have a sense of accomplishment with Baltimore BikeShare,” said Kira DeNoyer, development associate of TBS.
Duffney’s two sons are also part of the Corps Logistics’ team. Duffney told SouthBMore.com that he and his team love Baltimore, the Baltimore Police, the people they meet every day, and stopping by for meals at Das Bier Haus in South Baltimore.
Corps Logistics’ work in Baltimore doesn’t end with Baltimore BikeShare. Every Saturday, the team loads up on produce from Hollins Market and hands it out to homeless people.