The American Dream can be broadly interpreted as a belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success. Many believe that this is achieved through hard work, sacrifice, determination, and risk-taking rather than by chance. This year, Crystal Cleveland decided to overcome her fears and in January 2022, she set out to build her own American Dream. Today, as the founder of Xebec International Logistics, LLC, she leads a global logistics company on a parabolic rise. The awe-inspiring success of Xebec International is not the product of luck or millions in capital from investors. It is the culmination of one woman’s determination, passion, and 15 years of experience in international trade compliance and logistics, working for some of the biggest names in the industry— Halliburton, Schlumberger, Mitsubishi, Mahindra USA, and Crane Worldwide Logistics. “I could see the spark of Xebec, the dream,” Crystal says. That “spark” spread like a wildfire, soaring to over $1.4 million in revenue in the first quarter of its founding. Within a year, Xebec moved thousands of metric tons of goods across the globe. Among her clients are Global Organics, one of the nation’s largest organic sugar importers, and Sumitomo, a leading Fortune 500 global trading company. With headquarters based in Houston, Texas, her plan is to focus on continued growth. While many business leaders might bask in the spotlight of success, Crystal gives the credit to those she feels deserve it. “I would not be here without my brilliant team,” she shares. “They walked away from thriving careers to come to work for me, and together, we made this happen.”
About Xebec International Logistics
Founded on the core values of quality, efficiency, and integrity, Xebec has more than a decade of experience pioneering and refining transportation and logistics solutions that are secure, flexible, and designed to globally ship any product. Providing transportation, customs and compliance, and warehousing and distribution services, they support their clients every step of the way, delivering complete logistics solutions so that their clients can focus on innovations and growth. Further, as supply chains around the world are becoming more expensive and complex, Xebec’s 4PL logistics solutions and a team of experts manage all their clients’ logistics service providers and operations, providing peace of mind in knowing that products are delivered securely and on time. Xebec offers import and export services, customs brokerage and consulting advice, and warehouse-supply chain solutions that are coupled with 24/7 monitoring and expert guidance.
We had the pleasure to meet with Crystal to hear more about her extraordinary journey—and it’s an inspirational tale for the ages.
You started in logistics by accident, and now you’re leading an extraordinarily successful international transportation and logistics firm. Tell us about your career journey.
When I was 25, I wanted a better future for my children. The job market was slim for someone that did not have a degree. I applied for a logistics position within Halliburton and even though I had no previous experience, the hiring manager acknowledged my drive and eagerness to learn and offered me the position. Working full-time and juggling a family, I went back to school and received my master’s in business administration. The experience I gained from a handful of companies in roles as a senior logistics specialist, trade compliance consultant, and customs compliance and safety manager, gave me a breadth of experience across all sectors of the industry, which culminated in the founding of Xebec.
You took Xebec from an idea to where it is today in less than a year. Will you share this story with us?
Looking back, it still seems very surreal. I had no credit, no capital, no investors, or family money to fall back on, but I was determined. I told my fiancé, “I need six months to make this happen.” He said, “I know you, and if you believe in something this much, there’s no stopping you.” With the little savings I had to invest, I took my last $400 and filed for the formation of the company. I took one consulting job which led to me obtaining all the required licenses and permits to operate. Using social media, the company took off. Success, however, I believe should be credited to my team, who have supported me since the beginning. I believe the sky’s the limit for us!
What drives you the most, Crystal?
My goal in life has been to show my kids that nothing can keep them down and that you can succeed regardless of obstacles along the way. I have always pushed my limits and set my personal goals to a higher standard. Every day I put my boots on the ground and tell myself “let’s go!” My family is my motivation and when I hear them say “I am proud of you” it only makes me work harder and strive to make the company stronger for all to enjoy.
CEO — Xebec International Logistics, LLC