Simpson to Lead J.B. Hunt

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Shelley Simpson

Shelley Simpson

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. President Shelley Simpson will add CEO to her role starting July 1, and has been nominated for election to the Board at the company’s shareholders meeting next month.

Simpson, 52, a nearly 30-year J.B. Hunt veteran, has served as President since Aug. 1, 2022. The move is part of J.B. Hunt’s “succession planning and Board development to support future growth and shareholder confidence,” the company reported Feb. 29. It also announced that Kirk Thompson, current Executive Chairman of the Board, along with Wayne Garrison, will both retire from the Board of Directors and take newly formed Board advisory roles as non-voting Honorary Founding Directors. Additionally, outgoing CEO John N. Roberts III will assume the role of Executive Chairman of the Board upon Thompson’s retirement from the Board.

The creation of the Honorary Founding Director positions for Thompson, a Director since 1985, and Garrison, a Director since 1981, “will help preserve the invaluable experiences these founding executives have to contribute for years to come,” J.B. Hunt said. Thompson joined the company in 1973 and served as President and CEO from 1987-2010. Garrison joined the company in 1976, becoming President in 1982 and CEO in 1985, and served as Chairman of the Board from 1995-2010.

Retiring from the Board before reaching the company’s Director age-limitations, Thompson and Garrison will not stand for re-election at the company’s annual shareholders meeting to allow for additional independent Directors to join the Board in the future, according to J.B. Hunt. In January, the Board welcomed Pat Ottensmeyer, former President and CEO of Kansas City Southern, as a newly appointed independent Director, following the addition of two other independent Directors in recent years, Thad Hill and Persio Lisboa.

During Simpson’s J.B. Hunt career, she has held a wide range of executive leadership positions. In 2007, she helped found Integrated Capacity Solutions (ICS) and was named President of the business unit. Simpson in 2011 assumed sales and marketing executive responsibilities as Chief Marketing Officer and in 2014 took on an additional leadership role when she was named President of J.B. Hunt’s Truckload business segment. Simpson in 2017 was appointed Chief Commercial Officer and President of Highway Services and led the strategic direction and launch of the J.B. Hunt 360°® platform. In 2020, she added responsibilities for people and human resources, before taking on the role of J.B. Hunt President.

“I am so happy to know Kirk and Wayne will remain involved as advisors beyond their service as directors, and I am excited to congratulate John and Shelley on their new leadership roles,” J.B. Hunt Co-founder Johnelle Hunt said. “I care deeply about the long-term success of the company, and these changes give me great confidence in the company’s ability to continue to prosper well into the future.”

“Shelley challenges us to be excellent and innovative and always in pursuit of customer value,” said John N. Roberts III. “She will continue to remain focused on disciplined investments to drive appropriate returns and long-term growth for the benefit of our people, customers and shareholders. These steps help to ensure the culture and innovative growth mindset that has been so vital to the success of our company remains strong and intact to support the vision and the values of the company for the foreseeable future.”

“These Board and management changes reflect our commitment to developing strong leadership, listening to our stakeholders, and enhancing our corporate governance, particularly regarding Board independence, while retaining the significant value our long-standing leaders provide,” Roberts continued. “Through their decades of influence, Kirk and Wayne have instilled a culture of growth, leadership, respect and success in the company’s management and employees during its over 60-year history. Retaining their guidance and influence supports the continuity and stability of the Hunt family’s founding ownership interest in the company.”

“J.B. Hunt is recognized as a leader in the transportation industry,” Shelley Simpson said. “We’re known for our highly talented and experienced people, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to work alongside the very best. Kirk, Wayne and John are not only great leaders, but they understand the importance of building great leaders, and how that creates stability, opportunities for growth and ultimately drives long-term success for a company. They’ve grown a culture of integrity and respect, of innovation, safety and excellence, and I am profoundly grateful for the impact they’ve had and will continue to have on the company.”

In a related development, J.B. Hunt Transport Inc. last month entered into a multi-year intermodal service agreement with Walmart, in an arrangement that includes the purchase of Walmart’s intermodal assets.

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