February 25, 2013 4:45 AM, EST

New Chief Executives Hired at USA Truck, Panther

By Jonathan S. Reiskin, Associate News Editor

This story appears in the Feb. 25 print edition of Transport Topics.

Two of the nation’s largest trucking companies hired new chief executives last week, with USA Truck and Panther Expedited Services announcing new top leadership.

Truckload carrier USA Truck said Feb. 18 that John Simone has replaced Cliff Beckham, its CEO since 2007. Beckham reverts to his former position as chief financial officer. Simone had most recently been CEO of LinkAmerica Corp., until it was merged into Arnold Transportation Services in December.

USA ranks No. 49 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of for-hire carriers.

Andrew Clarke, Panther CEO since 2007, resigned from the Seville, Ohio, expedited carrier eight months after the company was acquired by Arkansas Best Corp. R. Louis Schneeberger was promoted from chief financial officer to succeed Clarke, the company said Feb. 18.

Edward Wadel was also promoted to Panther’s chief operating officer from chief information officer.

Schneeberger will report to Arkansas Best CEO Judy McReynolds. Arkansas Best ranks No. 13 on the TT 100 and is also the parent company of less-than-truckload carrier ABF Freight System.

Robert Peiser, USA’s chairman since November, said of Simone’s hiring, “We have been taking many steps toward improving USA’s operating and financial performance . . . He [Simone] has deep experience in trucking operations and is a proven leader of people in all functional areas and at all levels.”

USA has posted net losses in each of the last two years, with the loss widening from 2011 to 2012 as revenue has dipped.

The USA statement said Si­mone’s experience with Link­America included “a successful operational turnaround.”

USA has had several high-level personnel changes recently. In addition to Peiser replacing Terry Elliott as chairman in November, CFO Darron Ming was terminated in late December.

Thomas Glaser was also hired as interim chief operating officer for at least the first quarter of this year.

LinkAmerica, a Fort Worth, Texas, truckload carrier, was merged into Arnold Transportation Services, a unit of U.S. Xpress Enterprises. Tenex Capital still owns half of LinkAmerica, but the merged company operates under the Arnold name.

Prior to joining LinkAmerica in 2011, Simone was president of Greatwide Logistics from 2008 to 2011. He worked at UPS Freight from 1998 to 2008 and at Ryder System from 1982 to 1998.

Schneeberger joined Panther in 2010, when it was owned by private equity firm Fenway Partners, which later sold to Arkansas Best for $180 million.

Panther was profitable in the fourth quarter with operating income of $1.12 million on revenue of $61 million.

Wadel has worked for Panther since its founding in 1992, rising to CIO in 2006.

The Panther statement credited Clarke for “significant contributions” to Panther’s expansion, but did not say what Clarke would do next.

Prior to joining Panther in 2006 he had been CFO of Forward Air Corp.

Clarke has also been a member of the board of directors of Blount International since 2010. The Portland, Ore., manufacturer makes forestry, lawn and agricultural products.

New Century Transportation said Feb. 20 that Mark Olszewski is now president of the New Jersey-based LTL carrier.

Olszewski has worked in trucking since 1983, mainly for YRC Worldwide companies, including Roadway Ex­press, Reimer in Canada and YRC Mexico.

He will report to New Century CEO Terrence Gilbert.