Former Southwest Airlines CFO joins Daseke board

Daseke has elected transportation-industry veteran Laura H. Wright to its board of directors.

According to Daseke, Wright is the retired chief financial officer of Southwest Airlines Co., serving in that position and as senior vice president of finance from 2004 through September 2012. She spent 25 years with the company.

She is also the fourth independent director to be named to the Daseke board.

“We don’t want to just grow, we want to grow profitably. We don’t want to just be big, we want to be the carrier of choice for our people and our customers,” said Don Daseke, founder, chief executive and chairman. “To do that we need the insights of business leaders like Laura Wright who have dealt with the same issues we face as a growing company.”

During her time at Southwest, the former regional airline grew from $800 million in annual revenue to $17 billion, Daseke said.

“I loved being part of that growth, so the opportunity at Daseke to be part of the journey was appealing,” she said.

Wright said she was also drawn by the parallels in corporate culture and operating philosophies between Southwest Airlines Co. and Daseke.

“I certainly could relate to the culture that is being built at Daseke,” she said. “It’s a family culture, with such a genuine care for the people.

“In the airline industry, it’s such a customer-focused business,” she added, noting that Southwest Airlines Co.’s strategy is to start with the employees, treating them well and with respect. “If you do that, they’re going to treat customers well. The customers are going to come back. Then you get the financial rewards.”

With her background in business strategy, financial oversight, capital markets and customer service, Wright said, “I hope to bring a strong set of skills as an independent third party to Daseke.”

Brian Bonner, a Daseke board member and retired chief information officer of Texas Instruments, said Wright is “a very collaborative, intelligent contributor, who is a great listener. She’s able to give insightful suggestions and analyze complex information. Her experience at Southwest is something that’s transferable to some of the challenges we will face with Daseke as we grow.”

In addition to Wright and Bonner, Daseke recently added Tom Hund, retired executive vice president and chief financial officer of BNSF Railway, and Ron Gafford, retired chief executive of Austin Industries, to its board.

"I have known Laura for a long time. We were both CFOs at major Dallas-Fort Worth companies,” Hund said. “She is a person of great intelligence and integrity who is a consensus builder. She will be a great addition to the Daseke board."

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