Schneider built Green Bay trucking company into industry leader

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Don Schneider, in front of one of Schneider National’s classic orange trucks, is credited with setting the standard for the modern-day development of the trucking industry. Schneider died Friday.
Rick Wood

Don Schneider, in front of one of Schneider National’s classic orange trucks, is credited with setting the standard for the modern-day development of the trucking industry. Schneider died Friday Jan. 13, 2012.

Don Schneider ran a multibillion-dollar company, but that didn’t mean he had to wear a suit.

His business was trucking – Schneider National Inc. – based in Green Bay. Schneider transformed the family business, best known for those big orange trucks. Along the way, he helped transform the trucking industry throughout the United States.

Donald J. Schneider died Friday, after Alzheimer’s disease in recent years. He was 76.

Both Don Schneider and the family business were born in the same year. His father, A.J. “Al” Schneider, started the company in 1935 after selling the family car to buy a truck.

By 1971, the younger Schneider was heading the company. Mostly on his watch, company revenues increased from less than $100 million to $3.4 billion.

He served as president and chief executive officer until 2002, and as board chairman until 2007.

Schneider National now has 11,600 drivers and 1,900 independent drivers, and tens of thousands of trucks and trailers.

“If you put our trucks and trailers and containers end-to-end, there’d be an orange wall from Green Bay to Columbus, Ohio,” said Chris Lofgren, who succeeded Schneider as president and CEO.

“In terms of truckload transport, I would say there hasn’t been anybody who has been as influential a leader in the industry as Don,” Lofgren said. “It would be hard to overestimate his role.”

Others agreed.

“Don Schneider was a visionary, bringing business acumen and technology to blaze a trail and set the standard in the modern day development of our industry,” said Bill Graves, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, in a Schneider company statement.

“He was one of the really key leaders and took the industry in a new direction,” Richard D. Armstrong, chairman of Armstrong & Associates, a transport logistics and consulting firm in Stoughton, said earlier. “He grew the company dramatically and changed the industry in a lot of good and positive ways.”

Schneider was long listed as one of Wisconsin’s wealthiest men, but simple was just fine with him. He liked blue-collar shirts and a bare-bones office with a stand-up desk. He had an open door for any drivers in town. What you saw was what you got.

The man who kept his family business in Green Bay also became part of civic life, including as a longtime member of the Green Bay Packers board and executive committee.

“Don was a very valuable member of the Packers executive committee for over 20 years,” said Bob Harlan, chairman emeritus of the Packers, in the company statement. “His business skills were extraordinary. He was a great sounding board for me, and I relied on his advice on numerous occasions.

“Don also had a tremendous passion for the Packers and was as enthusiastic as any fan we have on game day,” Harlan said.

Schneider was disciplined in both his business and personal lives, completely changing his diet and exercise after a heart ailment and angioplasty more than 20 years ago.

A deeply religious man, he didn’t like bragging, even about how he liked an element of competition in his running.

“My nature is such that I like to w–,” Schneider said in 2002, catching himself before he could finish the word “win.”

“It’s not that I want to beat somebody,” he said. “It’s just that I want to know that I am performing at my maximum abilities.”

Growing up, he worked all kinds of jobs at what was then Schneider Transport. He put himself through Catholic high school and St. Norbert College. He did a stint in the Army before putting himself through the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a master’s degree in accounting. He returned to Green Bay and worked for his father.

Back then, the industry was very different, with federal regulations limiting trucking companies to specified routes, rates and loads. About the same time he became president, Schneider Transport got permission from the Interstate Commerce Commission to haul paper.

For Schneider, that translated into good business – and experience running a large-scale truckload operation.

With deregulation, Schneider navigated other changes. He also began converting operations to nonunion status, but did it strictly by the book. He began Schneider Logistics as a tech-savvy firm to plan shipping logistics for other companies.

More at Schneider built Green Bay trucking company into industry leader

Schneider National, the largest privately owned U.S. truckload carrier, is replacing one-third of its truck fleet, purchasing more than 3,000 new trucks in 2012.

That equates to 75 new trucks a week, the Green Bay, Wis.-based company said. Schneider will buy the 2012 and 2013 tractors primarily from Freightliner.

Schneider National increased revenue 9.7 percent last year to approximately $3.73 billion, making it the seventh-largest trucking operator in the U.S.

This year, the trucking company is diversifying its transportation portfolio, expanding its intermodal network in the East and its regional truckload operations.

Schneider’s equipment spend is the biggest trucking asset purchase announced this year, but it isn’t expected to significantly loosen industrywide capacity….

More at Schneider National Replacing More Than 3,000 Trucks | Journal of

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Originally posted 2012-11-28 10:35:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter