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John Simone becomes president, CEO of USA Truck

John Simone's appointment as the new president and CEO of USA Truck, is effective immediately.

The Trucker News Services

2/18/2013

VAN BUREN, Ark. — USA Truck Inc. has appointed John Simone as president and CEO and he has joined the company's board of directors.

Former CEO Cliff Beckham has returned to his previous role as the company's executive vice president and chief financial officer, which he previously held from 2002 to 2007, according to PR Newswire.

Simone has more than 30 years of operational and management experience in the transportation industry with leading companies that include UPS, Ryder and Greatwide Logistics. Most recently, he was the CEO of LinkAmerica where he led a successful operational turnaround.

“USA Truck has a strong foundation to build upon, including a relatively new fleet, dedicated employees, modern technology and significant balance sheet strength and liquidity,” Simone said. “I was attracted to the situation because of these resources and because of the strong commitment to teamwork I sensed from the board of directors and the executive team. Our team will be dedicated to achieving operational excellence in our execution with the goals of superior customer service, efficiency in all functions and full support for our drivers.  We expect improved operational execution and enhanced financial management to generate value for stockholders, employees, and other stakeholders.”

Simone’s appointment is the latest in a string of management changes since late last year when the publicly traded firm reported its largest quarterly loss in the company’s history. The year before, the company turned down discussions of a merger with trucking rival Celadon Group of Indianapolis. In late December 2012, the company announced its annual loss sank to $17.5 million.

“We have been taking many steps toward improving USA Truck’s operating and financial performance. Hiring John Simone as our new CEO is an important next step that we expect to accelerate the process,” said Robert A. Peiser, chairman of the board. “He has deep experience in trucking operations and is a proven leader of people in all functional areas and at all levels. We are excited that he shares our belief in the future of the company and will be dedicated to building on our momentum.”

To prevent any more financial stress and a potential hostile takeover of the company, it announced changes to its board of directors in November 2012. An interim COO was announced in December and CFO Darron Ming, who had been with the company for 15 years, was fired in January.

“We are also very excited that Cliff Beckham has agreed to return to the CFO position.  Cliff's deep-seated commitment to the company and his proven financial expertise in this position made this reorganization a natural decision that we all believe is in the very best interests of the company and its stockholders,” Peiser said. “ I look forward to working with John, Cliff, the rest of the management team and our Board in restoring USA Truck to the levels of profitability it has achieved in the past.”

Beckham said he welcomes Simone to the CEO role.

“We have been searching for someone with the right mix of operations, marketing and leadership skills to take the company to the next level of performance,” Beckham said. “I am excited to return to my historical role as CFO and provide strong financial, cost-control and management support to John and the rest of the team. We are unified in our commitment to restoring USA Truck to industry-leading performance.”

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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