Trucking’s future is complex, but Schneider helps lead the way

b99583103z.1_20151003160607_000_giqcp0mo.1-1You could say Green Bay-based Schneider has a lot of moving parts in its business, literally and figuratively.

The futuristic concept of “truck trains,” the impact of regulations that vary from state to state and the pending possibility of the nation’s highways continuing to deteriorate are among the many issues Schneider is dealing with these days.

But the privately held company also is growing, with revenue expected to surpass $4 billion this year, up from $3.9 billion in 2014.

Chief Executive Chris Lofgren says the company sees opportunity in technology and safety advancements that continue to be added to its fleet of 11,000 trucks.

“I think just the things that we can do with information and then our ability to operate the business and create jobs that the best of the industry will want (to) be a part of, I think that’s the opportunity for us,” Lofgren said.

The company, which is on Deloitte’s Wisconsin 75 listing of the state’s largest privately and closely held companies, employs 17,785 people. Of those, 11,460 are truck drivers. Its trucks circle the globe an equivalent of 337 times a day.

Started by Al Schneider in 1935, the business that used to be known as Schneider National is one of North America’s largest providers of truckload, intermodal and logistics services. Schneider does business throughout North America and China.

Don Schneider, Al’s oldest son, succeeded Al as president in 1976 and served in that role for 27 years. In 2002, Lofgren was named the company’s third president and CEO.

Lofgren is a doctorate-holding engineer who has held jobs as Schneider’s chief information officer and chief operating officer.

Among technological advances the company is implementing is a collision prevention technology that will automatically slow a truck down when hazards are detected in front of it. The technology will continue to be implemented through next year and into 2017.

The potential for trucks that essentially drive themselves is also something the company is watching carefully.

“In different versions at different times it will be a reality,” Lofgren said. “The technology is probably not going to be the biggest limiting factor to how that becomes adopted. I think there are social issues that are going to come into play around that.”

Consider also, for instance, the concept of stringing more than one truck together.

“It’s an interesting technology,” Lofgren said. “Think of it as a ‘truck train’ — two or three trucks together and the first is really controlling the second or third.”

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