Less-than-truckload carrier Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. will soon have a changing of the guard. David Congdon, who has been CEO since 2008 and vice chairman of the board since 2015, will hand over the CEO reins in May to President Greg Gantt.
David Congdon will become executive chairman of the board, succeeding Earl Congdon, who will shift to senior executive chairman.
David Congdon told Transport Topics he will continue to have a leadership role with the company’s strategic direction. As head of the board he intends to work with Gantt on executive leadership succession planning.
Congdon recalled officially being named CEO 10 years ago when business was going well. Then, the banking crisis hit the country. In the fourth quarter of 2008, Old Dominion’s revenue dropped 20% and the company had to reduce headcount by several thousand people, Congdon said.
“It was a very touchy period. So we focused on being the best service provider. We wanted to uphold a good price and not participate in price wars,” Congdon said.
Efforts paid off with the company earning a 99% rating for its on-time service and driving down its cargo claims ratio to 0.3%, Congdon said.
Old Dominion earned the Mastio & Co. award for best national LTL carrier for eight years.
Gantt will continue as president while he takes on the CEO responsibilities. He joined Old Dominion as a regional vice president in 1994 and became chief operating officer in 2011.
“I look forward to working with our talented team to continue to enhance our market position and drive continued growth in shareholder value at Old Dominion,” Gantt said. Gantt will become a board member in May, according to a spokesperson.
Old Dominion ranks No. 11 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America. It has about 8,000 tractors and 32,525 trailers.
Old Dominion’s net income rose 57% to $463.8 million on revenue of $3.4 billion in 2017, up 12.3% from 2016. Its operating ratio last year was 82.9% compared with 83.8% in 2016. The company’s stock is trading near its 52-week high of $150 a share.
“They are a leading LTL. Investors and shippers think of [Old Dominion] as head and shoulders above the others in technology,” said Jason Seidl, Cowen & Co. managing director of airfreight and surface transportation. “It’s a well-respected company that flourished under him.”
Old Dominion looks forward to the continued guidance of Earl and David Congdon as they transition into their new executive roles, and to the leadership of Greg Gantt as he becomes #ODFL’s CEO. https://t.co/a5GoRssVaM via @HDTrucking pic.twitter.com/a9DcbVgLbM— ODFL, Inc. (@ODFL_Inc) March 13, 2018
Old Dominion is a prime example of a family-owned trucking firm.
Lillian and Earl Congdon Sr. founded the company in 1934 with a single truck carrying freight between Richmond and Norfolk, Va. Earl Congdon Jr. joined the company in 1949 and became general manger after his father’s accidental death. Lillian took over as president.
Earl Jr.’s brother, John Congdon, joined the company in 1951, founded its Old Dominion Truck Leasing group and held positions including senior vice president and vice chairman of the board.
The family grew the company organically and through acquisitions and moved it to North Carolina in 1962. It expanded to serve the southeast and the nation.
Earl Congdon led Old Dominion as it went public in 1991 and for the next two decades as it grew into one of the largest LTL firms in the country. In 2008, he turned over the CEO position to his son, David.
The family has long been active in issues that affect the trucking industry. Earl was an early proponent of trucking deregulation that took effect in 1980. In 2016, David Congdon became vice chairman of American Trucking Associations’ infrastructure task force.
Seidl said, “Trucking is in their blood.”