Transfinder reports revenue growth for the 24th year in a row
From The Daily Gazette
By John Cropley, Business Editor
January 26, 2022
SCHENECTADY — School bus-routing company Transfinder on Tuesday announced its 24th consecutive increase in annual revenue and said it plans to extend the streak to a full quarter-century in 2022.
The tech firm, based on State Street in downtown Schenectady, recorded $23.3 million in revenue for 2021, up 23% from a year earlier. It also added 201 new school district clients, another record high for a single year, and added 23 employees, bringing its workforce to nearly 150, also a record.
Owner and CEO Antonio Civitello said Tuesday that Transfinder these last two years has had to think like the startup it once was, rather than a 33-year-old company.
“One of the things we’ve done in the past couple of years is we’ve accepted that whatever we did the prior year or two, that’s not necessarily going to work,” he said.
The startup mindframe — a continual search for new ideas and an ability to shift to what works in a nimble manner — has served it well.
“We are in continuous figure-it-out mode,” Civitello said. The ideas that flow in as a result are good, bad and ugly, he added.
“The good and the ugly always stand right out,” he said. The bad ones, “there’s a little risk-taking.”
The failures don’t carry stigma — the team moves on to another idea.
A nationwide school bus driver shortage that existed before 2020 grew much worse during the pandemic, leading school districts to look for ways to squeeze every bit of efficiency they can out of their limited staff. One way is Transfinder’s digital solutions, which crunch variables to lay out the routes to pick up the entire student body with the fewest miles and minutes of driving.
Routefinder PLUS, rolled out in 2020, has a trip absorption feature that can take the existing routes and compress them as efficiently as possible if for example a district has only 20 drivers available on a given day and there are 25 established routes.
Training sessions with clients were up 12% in 2021 and use of the Transfinder University client support livestream was up 105%.
Every company worth its name tries to meet or exceed all of its clients’ needs, but as part of its growth strategy, Transfinder is trying to anticipate their needs.
“To leapfrog is to come up with something brand new that someone’s never thought of,” Civitella said.
The longtime supporter of downtown Schenectady remains committed to the downtown but will not be bringing the staff back to the 440 State St. headquarters for a while.
Other downtown companies are in the same position, leaving the area noticeably quiet and short of traffic at times.
“If we go back right now, which we’re not, we won’t all fit in the building,” Civitella said.
He has additional vacant space downtown ready for expansion, but isn’t setting the process in motion until the pandemic is clearly over and months in the rear view mirror.
Transfinder was among the first companies to go remote in March 2020 and Civitella believes a significant portion of his workforce would quit if he ordered them back before they were comfortable coming back to the office setting.
The situation is similar in Austin, Texas, and Shanghai, China, home to the company’s two satellite offices.
Civitella expects a hybrid model will emerge: Some people working remotely, some in the office and some both.
The events of the last 22 months have proved remote work can be just as productive as in-person work, but the limitations are also clear, he said: Collaboration and social bonding with remote co-workers has suffered.
So Transfinder will be back downtown.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen in 2022. We’re not seeing the indicators yet,” Civitella said.
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