3PL news: Tague appointed to replace Suggs as CEO of Greatwide Logistics Services

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
July 12, 2011 - LM Editorial

Non-asset based third party logistics (3PL) and transportation services provider Greatwide Logistics Services recently announced that John P. Tague has been named to succeed Leo Suggs as CEO. Suggs will remain in his role as Greatwide chairman, according to company officials.

Tague comes to Greatwide from United Airlines, where he served as president and was responsible for all airline management functions. In eight years at United, he served in various roles, including chief operating officer and chief revenue officer.

Suggs, a 50+-year transportation and former president of UPS Freight, joined Greatwide as executive chairman in 2009 and took on the CEO role in 2010. He joined the company soon after its restructuring effort began in earnest in 2008, when Greatwide initially announced it had been acquired by affiliates of private investment firm Centerbridge Partners and other investors, including the D.E. Shaw Group, among others. This deal enabled Greatwide to quickly complete its financial restructuring and address its capital structure needs without operational and service disruptions. The deal reduced the company’s debt by $478 million—or 77 percent.

During his time at Greatwide, company officials said Suggs led the company through the 2009 freight recession, launched several organic growth initiatives, and continued acquisitions in an effort to expand customer offerings.

While Tague does not have experience in the freight transportation and logistics sectors, Greatwide Executive Vice President and former President of Schneider Logistics Rodger Mullen told LM that in his role at United, the company under his purview had a $700 million freight division. Mullen joined Greatwide in April.

“This division was not just air freight as it also focused on the needs of the actual flights for things like food and fuel,” he said. “It is not a trucking background, but his background is pertinent to us from a total logistics perspective and that he ran such a large organization. He is a proven leader over his entire career and given Leo’s time at the helm it was really important for us to bring in a solid leader.

Coming from a large enterprise like United should well prepare Tague for the challenges of leading Greatwide, which Mullen said is more complex, given its capacities as an owner-operator, having light assets and non-asset solutions. Greatwide also has a heavy focus on growth, which is something that Tague is experienced in, said Mullen.

Mullen said that Greatwide has seen some solid business growth this year, with sales up ten-to-11 percent. He added that the company is focused on its dedicated trucking business and non-asset transportation services and remains heavily involved in its core competency business services as well.

The developing driver shortage, though, is serving as a barrier to additional growth opportunities, he explained.

Leadership at Armstrong & Associates, a supply chain consultancy, was direct when asked what this move means for Greatwide.

“Tague will have his work cut out for him,” said Richard Armstrong, chairman of Armstrong & Associates. “The quality of his inner circle will be extremely important since it makes up for his lack of motor carrier experience. The Centerbridge guys are true financial types and not timid about replacing C level people in their quest for profit.”

Armstrong & Associates President Evan Armstrong was more blunt, explaining that while it keeps underperforming financially, it looks like Greatwide keeps rolling the dice to see what executive management team is going to work.

“The list of ex-Greatwide execs keeps growing and now they are drawing from the airline industry,” he said. “Maybe no one within the industry wants to take the chance? Greatwide seems to be in strategic turmoil.”



About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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About the Author

Jeff Berman, News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman.

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