Success did not come easy to Charlie Annett, yet today he leads a major logistics firm, FSA Network, that employs 400 people in 32 U.S. locations.
“I was raised on the romantic idea of the American dream. I thought everyone was pursuing the dream of hard work leading to success, so it was ingrained in me to take advantage of opportunities as they happen, work hard and stay optimistic.”
A Wheeling native and West Liberty graduate, he now lives in a mansion in sunny Florida (Weston) with his wife, Leticia, and three dogs. He has three married children and 10 grandchildren.
One of eight children himself, Annett moved several times during his childhood, living in South Wheeling, North Wheeling and the Betty Zane neighborhoods of Wheeling. He was the only one in his family that was lucky enough to go to college.
But he never expected it to be easy.
“I wasn’t going to college at first. My uncle was a Navy recruiter, so I joined the Navy Reserve, planning to go active after high school. Somehow, I got an academic scholarship to West Lib, so I took a military deferment,” he said.
While at West Liberty, he played basketball for four years. His freshman team was undefeated.
“When I was a freshman, we only played about 12 games but it was the most fun. We played local teams and had a student coach. I also dressed for a few varsity games that year,” he said. His most vivid memory of 1963 was a basketball tournament at Rio Grande College when President John F. Kennedy was shot.
“I was in my hotel room and another guy on the team, Freddie Chambers, told me that the president was assassinated. I told him I didn’t believe him and went back to my room.” In hindsight, another big moment was when Annett and fellow senior Ernie Czekaj were basketball co-captains with baseball legend Joe Niekro.
Getting to campus also was memorable.
“For the first two years, I didn’t have a car. Most of the time, I had to walk home or hitchhike. When I had money, I got rides with other students and chipped in for gas.” His first car was a 1956 Ford that he bought for $80 in 1964.
Another life opportunity presented itself when the Navy suggested that he enlist in the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps during college. This meant that Annett went to officer training school for two weeks each summer in Rhode Island and graduated with an officer’s commission.
“I took advantage of opportunities in life, never knowing for sure where I was headed. After graduation, I served in the Navy for three years, one in Vietnam. Then I got into the trucking business and worked for 20 years before I got a chance to buy my own trucking firm.”
He started out with Ryder, learning the ropes. In 1989, he joined A&F Transportation Company as vice president with a minority interest. In July 1989, he was elected president and became 50 percent owner. In September 1990, Annett became the sole owner of FSA Network, specializing in home delivery of appliances, furniture and electronics.
Like most successful men, Annett had help.
“After I bought the company, my wife took a very active role in the operations of the company. Over the years, she was an instrumental part of the growth and directed the startups in many cities that we serve.”
Business is good and 2012 was FSA’s highest revenue year. Clients include the largest retailers in the country.
His advice to others seeking success is simple, “as life presents opportunities, be ready.”
After all it’s the American Dream.