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February 11, 2020 9:15 AM, EST

Interim CEO Chris Easter Named New CEO of Daseke Trucking

Don Daseke and Chris EasterDon Daseke (left) and Chris Easter by Daseke Inc.

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Six months after being named interim CEO of Addison, Texas-based Daseke Inc., Chris Easter was named the flatbed carrier’s permanent CEO on Feb. 7.

In addition to his CEO duties, Easter will have a seat on the company’s board of directors.

Easter joined Daseke trucking in January 2019 as its chief operating officer and became interim CEO in August upon retirement of the company’s founder and CEO, Don Daseke.

“I am honored by the board’s decision to appoint me as CEO of Daseke,” Easter said. “I am very fortunate to work alongside a team of leaders who are the best operators in our industry. These seasoned leaders are not only fantastic operators, but they have successfully built and grown businesses. As we look forward, we believe it is critically important to keep this work simple and execute aggressively.”

Chairman Brian Bonner, who said there was a six-month nationwide search for a CEO, added that Easter was selected for his deep industry knowledge and leadership skills and touted his “outstanding performance” as interim CEO.

“Over the last six months, Chris acted with a clear sense of urgency to implement immediate change and transformation by significantly accelerating and expanding his previously announced operational and cost initiatives,” Bonner said. “Most importantly, he’s pulled our organization together through a time of great change and developed a sense of passion and pride in our employee base that will help Daseke grow and thrive in the future. He’s the right person to lead this organization.”

Easter has had more than 30 years of operational leadership serving in key transportation and logistics roles with the U.S. Army, Walmart and Schneider National. From 2012 to 2017, he served as CEO of Keen Transport, a specialized transportation, warehouse and logistics company focused on serving the industrial equipment market. During more than a decade with Walmart, he was responsible for overseeing the transportation of goods from around the world.

Daseke offers transportation services to many industrial shippers through a fleet of approximately 6,000 tractors and 13,000 flatbed and specialized trailers. The company said it has more than 1 million square feet of industrial warehousing space.

In October, Easter announced his intentions to integrate three of Daseke’s struggling subsidiaries with others that are top performers. The company also deployed a team of CEOs from some of its subsidiaries to work on strategies to implement the turnaround plan.

Phil Byrd

Byrd 

One of those CEOs is Phil Byrd, formerly president of Bulldog Hiway Express as well as a chairman of American Trucking Associations. He told Transport Topics the team would take a hard look at how Daseke has operated in the past, apply best practices and wring the most efficiency out of the operations.

During the last several years, Daseke has been aggressive in acquiring usually family-owned flatbed and specialized trucking firms. In most cases it kept the company name and management team, and operated as a division of Daseke trucking.

“We will continue to act with a sense of urgency and make the necessary changes to drive immediate and sustainable value for our customers, shareholders and other stakeholders. We are just getting started,” Easter said.

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The company last reported earnings for the third quarter in November when it logged $6.8 million of business transformation costs and $6.9 million in restructuring expenses. It expects to incur the majority of the estimated remaining $3 million of business transformation costs and $1.5 million of restructuring expenses through the end of fiscal 2019, the company said then.

For the overall third quarter it posted a net loss $273.3 million, or $4.25 per share, compared with net income of $2.2 million, or $0.01 per share, in the same year-ago quarter.

Revenue decreased 2.4% to $450.4 million, compared with $461.6 million in the year-ago quarter. The year-over-year decline in revenue was driven primarily by the softer rate environment in the Flatbed Solutions segment while consolidated freight rates declined 4.6%.

Daseke Inc. ranks No. 21 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

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