C.H. Robinson’s next chief executive must be capable of accelerating the company’s financial performance.
But it doesn’t stop there. The wish list discussed by Interim CEO Scott Anderson during the company’s Q4 conference Wednesday also seeks an individual who is a sharp strategic thinker with a track record of maintaining profitability while successfully navigating a constantly changing global supply chain environment.
The new leader also must know when to pivot to avoid hurting the bottom line, based on the company's current approach.
Jodee Kozlak, board chair and former chief HR officer at Target Corp., is leading a search committee charged with hiring its next chief executive, Anderson said. A timetable was not discussed, but Anderson noted the company would take its time.
“Our core strategy of building out our operating model going forward, I think, is solid,” Anderson said. “Obviously, new eyes in terms of a new CEO will give some perspective to that as well. … But strategically, we are absolutely in a spot with global supply chains becoming more complex to be a go-to partner in the future.”
The company’s core strategy involves investing in technology to automate some of its processes to find efficiencies and lower costs.
Anderson was appointed interim CEO Jan. 1 after the company’s board voted unanimously to terminate now former CEO Bob Biesterfeld.
Jason Miller, associate professor of logistics in the department of supply chain management at Michigan State University, said the company’s next CEO’s priority likely will focus on developing a strategy to integrate its Global Forwarding and North American Surface Transportation segments to boost profitability.
“I also believe it will be critical for the new CEO to identify ways to increase value added services offered by the NAST division as those services provide higher margin and more stable revenue than truckload brokerage,” he said in an email to Transport Dive.
Analysts were critical of C.H. Robinson’s ability to adapt to changing market conditions, which led the company to cut 650 jobs in late fall. These factors likely weighed in the board’s decision to find a new CEO.
Miller, in a January interview with Transport Dive, said terminating Biesterfeld signaled the board was concerned about decisions being made that adversely impacted the company.
Meanwhile, C.H. Robinson reported Q4 gross profits fell 10.5% to $761.5 million, but for its full fiscal year increased 13.6% to $3.6 billion. Its Q4 operating expenses rose 6.2% to $604.1 million while operating income fell 42.9% to $164 million. The company’s Global Forwarding segment was a drag on the company, which saw a 53% revenue drop in Q4, fueled by lower pricing and weak demand for services.