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The most Innovative Trucking and Logistics Executives of 2019

According to Business Insider, the US trucking industry has grown to $800 billion, but the industry has faced many ongoing challenges in the past few years. Some of the most critical issues have been, an ongoing and growing driver shortage—which has been a top concern for the industry in 2018 and 2019 as noted by the American Transportation Research Institute ( ATRI). Changes in trucking regulations, freight rates, and most recently, the tariff war have all impacted commerce and ultimately the trucking and logistics industries in the US.

Despite these challenges, some companies have learned to evolve with the times and have been able to face these challenges head-on and create unique opportunities and are thriving. This is due in large part to the men and women leading the charge within these companies. Read on as we reveal the most innovative industry executives of 2019.

David Jackson, President & CEO, Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings

In 1990, the company started as a family-owned business known as Knight Transportation, with a handful of trucks and one service center in Phoenix, Arizona. The company now runs a fleet of over 4,000 tractors and over 8,800 trailers. This now publicly-traded company has also ranked on Forbes’ list of Top 200 Best Small Companies for 15 consecutive years.

President and CEO David Jackson has been with the company since 2015 and has continued to focus on improved profitability and yield, despite driver challenges. In 2017 Knight merged with another Arizona based company, Swift Transportation, becoming a trucking giant in the industry with 28,000 employees, 23,000 tractors, 77,000 trailers and a combined enterprise value of $8 billion.

In 2018 the now merged Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings acquired Abilene Motor Express – a privately held company with reported annual revenue of $100 million.

Judy McReynolds Chairman & CEO, ArcBest

As one of the few female CEO’s in the transportation and logistics industry, Judy McReynolds has been an advocate for women in the industry, where she has spent 28 years. In 2010 she was named president and CEO of ArcBest and continues to ensure that women are offered an equal opportunity for leadership in her company.

The company boasts 28% of women in leadership roles; this is ranked as the highest percentage among publicly traded, for-hire carriers in the United States. They also take the top spot as having the highest percentage of women on the board of directors at 33%.

ArcBest’s core value is growth, and they offer several systems designed to enhance and improve the skills of their employees and help them master new ones as well. They offer advanced training classes in their Leadership Series Program for managerial level and supervisory level employees, and a similar training program offered at their Leadership Academy which targets employees with high potential.

Furthermore, ArcBest offers an innovative online talent management system known as Elevate, which teaches employees about emotional intelligence, network building, and understanding generational differences, as well as how to improve presentation skills.

Amara Ruff, CEO & Cofounder, Sudu

Sudu is a technology-based logistics company founded by Amari Ruff and his partner Michelangelo Ho. Amari started out in the telecom industry and later noticed a technological opportunity in the trucking industry, so he quit his job and volunteered at a trucking association to learn more about the industry.

His company Sudu was born out of a need to create the best technology solution for trucking. Amari went on to build a mobile-friendly platform to simplify and modernize the entire logistics process for shippers and carriers. This technology-based logistics company focuses on working with veteran-owned trucking firms, women, minorities and other small groups that often find it hard to compete for large contracts due to their small size.

To address this issue, Sudu harnesses all of these diverse carriers under one umbrella, treating them as an alliance, so that they can compete on a global or national level with Fortune 1000 companies. Thus carrying out their mission of empowering small and mid-size carriers to contend with major shippers in the industry.

Richard Gerstein, Chairman & CEO, Cargomatic

As the only California based startup freight company on our list, Cargomatic is unique in that regard. This local marketplace uses technology – via their mobile and desktop apps – to connect shippers and drivers throughout New York and New Jersey, Seattle, Washington,  Chicago, Illinois, San Francisco, California, and Los Angeles. Cargomatic handles all the details including real-time updates, GPS tracking, and electronic POD’s.

Chairman and CEO, Richard Gerstein took on the role of Chief Executive Officer in 2017, after a series of financial missteps led to major staff layoffs in 2016. Gerstein promised significant growth within the company and in 2018, Cargomatic received a $35 million infusion from investors. Richard promised that this money would go towards significantly increasing its staffing of managers, software engineers, and customer service people throughout Southern California.

They later rebuilt C-Suite, hiring several new executives to include a Chief Marketing Officer, Chief of Staff, Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Commercial Officer, Chief Product & Technology Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Legal Officer. Gerstein believes that hiring these talented individuals will spur growth and propel Cargomatic towards further innovation and adoption.

Brian Fielkow, CEO, Jetco Delivery

Jetco Delivery is a Houston based, logistics company that specializes in truckload freight, regional trucking, and heavy haul. It was acquired by Brian Fielkow in 2006 who has since focused on employee engagement, which has helped to grow the company six-fold since its purchase. Jetco is known for prioritizing safety in its operations and has been included in Houston Business Journal’s Fast 100 and INC.5000’s 2015 list as one of America’s fastest-growing companies.

Brian’s proven formula is to directly connect the company’s culture to its bottom line by differentiating between Jetco’s values and priorities; and by empowering staff members that are overseeing and driving change.

In May 2019, Canadian based, GTI Transport Solutions acquired Jetco Delivery, with Fielkow remaining in his capacity as CEO. GTI Solutions has three locations in Canada and seven in the United States, plus fully-equipped transportation terminals in Ontario and Quebec. Jetco Delivery operates a fleet of 100 power units and 250 trailers and this new venture positions it for profitable growth.

Dave Clark, Global Logistics Chief, Amazon

Starting out in 1999, 47-year-old Dave Clark has quickly climbed the ranks at Amazon. In 2013 he was named Global Logistics Chief and has made some truly innovative and disruptive changes. With customer satisfaction as his focus, Clark is known for taking big risks – one being the recent firing of FedEx, during the height of the holiday shipping season when the delivery company’s performance started to slip. In an effort to ween Amazon off of its core carriers, FedEx and UPS, Clark has spent billions of dollars on trucks, planes, delivery vans, hundreds of thousands of workers and over 200,000 robots worldwide.

This risk was worth it. Morgan Stanley’s recent research shows that the company is now shipping 2.5 billion packages annually – delivering 46% of US packages bought on Amazon’s website. This is in comparison to 4.7 billion packages delivered by UPS and 3 billion by FedEx. Shipment.com notes that Amazon delivers over 90% of its packages on time, on par with its competitors, UPS and FedEx.

Dave Clark is poised to take on even more responsibility in 2020. This includes running the company’s brick-and-mortar operations such as Whole Foods and the new Amazon Go chain of cashier-less convenience stores.

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