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Executive shakeup at C.H. Robinson

Jan. 3, 2023
Longtime CEO Bob Biesterfeld abruptly steps down and is replaced on an interim basis by the company’s board chairman, Scott Anderson. The huge 3PL and multimodal was hampered in 2022 by supply chain disruptions and surging inflation.

Third-party logistics, freight brokerage, and multimodal transportation services juggernaut C.H. Robinson announced that CEO Bob Biesterfeld resigned on Dec. 31 and had been replaced by Scott Anderson, who was chairman of the company’s board of directors.

Biesterfeld, who also leaves his post as president and as a member of C.H. Robinson’s board, was named CEO in 2019 and had been with the company for 24 years. He was its chief operating officer prior to his three-year stint as CEO.

Anderson will serve as interim CEO as national executive search firm Russell Reynolds assists the C.H. Robinson board in identifying internal and external candidates to permanently replace Biesterfeld, according to a Jan. 3 release.

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As Anderson steps in to become interim CEO, Jodee Koziak will become independent chair of the C.H. Robinson board. The company announced that it had also made changes to its audit and governance committees so that these panels can remain solely composed of independent directors. Kermit Crawford has been tapped to lead the governance committee.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I thank Bob for his many important contributions over the past three years as CEO and his 24 years with C.H. Robinson,” Anderson said in the release. “Since joining Robinson in 1999, Bob has played an important role in positioning C.H. Robinson for long-term success, most recently leading the company through a challenging period, which included COVID-19 and dealing with supply chain disruptions. We wish him all the best.”

“It has been a privilege to lead C.H. Robinson and this exceptional team," Biesterfeld said in the release. "I am proud of all that we have achieved together, and it has been a pleasure working with so many talented members of the team throughout the organization during my tenure as CEO. I am confident that C.H. Robinson’s industry-leading people and culture will continue to ensure that the company is well-positioned for the future.”

The company, with annual revenues of $23.1 billion, did not say why Biesterfeld resigned. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported that the company has struggled over the past year coming to grips with supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as surging inflation.

Revenue at the company was down about $6 billion year-over-year in the third quarter of 2022, net income was 8.6% lower, and net profit margin was down 4.82% year-over-year in Q3. On Jan. 3, C.H. Robinson’s stock price was down 2.49% to $89.28 per share on the Nasdaq composite index. The company, which boasts $28 billion in freight under management annually and 20 million shipments a year according to the C.H. Robinson website, missed its Q3 2022 revenue goals by 4.81%.

See also: C.H. Robinson, Waymo to develop long-haul AV shipping solution

Anderson becomes interim CEO with much executive experience. He was appointed to the C.H. Robinson board in January 2012 and has been its chairman since 2020, according to the release. Most recently, he was president and CEO of Patterson Cos. from 2010 to 2017 and was elected as board chairman at Patterson in April 2013. He served as a director of Duke Realty Corp.’s board prior to its acquisition by Prologis in October. He is a former chairman of the Dental Trade Alliance, has served on the board of the Ordway Theater and is a trustee of Gustavus Adolphus College, where he served as its board chairman from 2019 to 2021. He is a senior adviser to TPG Capital’s health care team and heads the executive council of Carlson Private Capital.

“I am honored to take on the role of Interim CEO and am committed to ensuring this will be a seamless transition for all C.H. Robinson stakeholders,” Anderson said in the company statement. “Now is the right time for C.H. Robinson to accelerate our strategic initiatives and the Board is focused on identifying a CEO successor who can execute on the opportunities ahead for Robinson. I look forward to working closely with our talented employees to continue to improve our customer and carrier experience and scale our digital processes to foster sustainable growth.”

C.H. Robinson helped to make news in 2022 in autonomous trucking. CHR and Waymo began working together to use self-driving trucks to bolster freight networks used by C.H. Robinson shipper customers. The company also became a member of the advisory council of another self-driving technology company, Torc Robotics.

About the Author

Scott Achelpohl | Managing Editor

I'm back to the trucking and transportation track of my career after some time away freelancing and working to cover the branches of the U.S. military, specifically the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard. I'm a graduate of the University of Kansas and the William Allen White School of Journalism there with several years of experience inside and outside business-to-business journalism. I'm a wordsmith by nature, and I edit FleetOwner magazine and our website as well as report and write all kinds of news that affects trucking and transportation.

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