Bio for Ni
Once upon a grim time at the tail end of the Vietnam War, the youngest of four children, Ni Suphavong, was born in Laos. The near existence was in a chaotic mess. Bloodshed overflowed the countryside.
Wanting to find a better life, my family had to leave every possession behind. We sought safety with relatives in Thailand. As the Vietnamese army inched closer to taking over Thailand at the very last ditch effort of the war, we fled to a refugee camp by the Mekong River. Every day was a struggle to survive. The camp was over crowded with make-shift tents. It had the stench of death. Competition for food was a daily occurrence. My parents would forgo eating a meal mainly consisting of a bowl of stale rice so my siblings and I could fill our growling stomachs. After a few years of what resembles hell on earth, my parents were hopeless, stressed, famished, sleep deprived and despaired. Then, miracles happened. As the Americans were retreating, a limited number of refugees were permitted to immigrate to the US and, luckily, I was the last refugee to depart before the camp gate closed and not to be opened again for another 3-5 more years. Then, the second miracle: An anonymous sponsor from a generous Minnesota family.
With the dingy clothes on our backs and ten dollars, we arrived in the US in 1980 when I was five. Having to start their lives over at middle age with minimal work skills, my parents worked multiple blue collar jobs. I grew up in a very loving and supportive family that constantly encouraged me to be independent and to follow my dreams. “We came close to death many times in order to come to America,” My teary-eyed Mom would tell me. “Take care of yourself, be your own person, don’t rely on anyone.” “Never take anything for granted and always remember where you came from.”
By the time I was nineteen, I was extremely driven and ambitious. Then serendipity happened when I answered a newspaper ad in the spring of 1994. This company was a brand new franchise for a worldwide freight forwarder. Not knowing anything about freight, I learned everything by experience. The owners took me under their wing and taught me the transportation industry. “Control your own destiny,” The Boss would sermon on countless occasions. Throughout the years, I worked for several other freight companies in order to quench my thirst for industry knowledge.
My childhood dream came to fruition in September 2007, when JADE LOGISTICS was incorporated. The economy was at the on sought of the recession. Finding financing was extremely difficult. After consecutive no’s, disappointments and despair, Angels in the form of my parents came to the rescue and gave me the desperately needed cash from their lifelong retirement savings. Starting out was not trouble-free. There were countless naysayers that would howl “What a joke,” “She’ll NEVER make it on her own,” “This industry is way too competitive,” “This is the worst time to start a company.” Not letting the unenthusiastic opinions influence me, I persevered. As a single person operation, I literally lived in my office and worked around the clock, nights, weekends, and holidays. In mid 2008, hard work and steadfastness finally paid off and profits were turning.
Now it was time to give back. I remembered the generous citizens that helped my family many years before. And, it was this one sole act of kindness that changed our lives for the best. As a business leader, it is my obligation to give back to the community and help those less fortunate. Today, JADE supports various charities and non-profits. “The niche of JADE is our minority-women advantage but the HEART of our company is giving back,” I would proudly enlighten my team.
At the onset of 2010 and in just a few short years, JADE blossomed into a team of dedicated, top-notch professionals who can "create their own destiny." We have been featured in the Star Tribune: The Newspaper of the Twin Cities; and recently, honored for top minority business of the year 2010 by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
Reminiscing about my historic experiences, I endured unimaginable hardships such as escaping near death countless times from a war-torn country; struggling to embark on a new life in an unfamiliar land with next to nothing; a plethora of pessimistic people telling me I can never make it. Existence was awfully challenging but I always had the support and unconditional love from my wonderful family. “No matter what your dire circumstances, no matter how mean people are to you, no matter how badly beaten up you are emotionally, no matter how many odds are stacked up against you, no matter what your gender or race; anyone in this world can be whoever they want to be if they believe in themselves enough and put their minds to it.” “I am living proof of this,” My concluding words of encouragement and wisdom.