• ITVI.USA
    15,523.360
    80.780
    0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.879
    -0.012
    -0.4%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.890
    0.040
    0.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,485.300
    73.880
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.820
    -0.100
    -3.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.580
    -0.100
    -2.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.260
    -0.030
    -2.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.650
    0.030
    0.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.330
    -0.090
    -3.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.020
    -0.150
    -3.6%
  • WAIT.USA
    127.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,523.360
    80.780
    0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.879
    -0.012
    -0.4%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.890
    0.040
    0.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,485.300
    73.880
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.820
    -0.100
    -3.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.580
    -0.100
    -2.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.260
    -0.030
    -2.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.650
    0.030
    0.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.330
    -0.090
    -3.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.020
    -0.150
    -3.6%
  • WAIT.USA
    127.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
Less than TruckloadLogistics/Supply ChainsNewsTop Stories

Atypical career ladder: Harik, XPO’s IT head, takes on its LTL business

Move seen as founder Jacobs’ vote of confidence in his IT guru, reflection of technology's rising importance in LTL

Other than founder Brad Jacobs, no one has been more instrumental in XPO Logistics Inc.’s decadelong success than Mario Harik, its chief information officer (CIO). Harik, 42, has been with XPO (NYSE:XPO) since its founding in 2011. He built the company’s platform, ensuring the systems were in place before the company launched its unprecedented roll-up program. Harik then managed the technology integrations of 17 acquisitions in four years, a remarkable accomplishment by any measure. Following XPO’s burst into the LTL business with its 2015 acquisition of Con-way Inc., Harik spent much of the next six years developing digital tools that ramped up the unit’s efficiency and helped transform the normally IT-averse segment.

Whether a vote of confidence, a leap of faith or a reflection of IT’s increasing relevance in LTL, Jacobs burnished Harik’s credentials late last week in a way no one in the more-than-century-old industry can remember. With no public announcement, XPO (NYSE:XPO) named Harik the acting president of its all-important LTL division. Harik will also keep his position as the company’s CIO.

Tony Brooks, who headed the LTL division, retired, a move that sources said would have happened earlier if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. Harik’s new role took effect immediately. A formal search has begun for a permanent head of the unit. Until then, it’s Harik’s ball to run with.

No one could think of a situation where a company’s CIO and not an operations executive was named to run an entire LTL operation. That Harik retained the CIO role only added to the surprise. XPO would not publicly comment beyond confirming the management change. A person close to the company said the 59-year-old Brooks, who is a traditional operator, was a good fit for the first phase of the company’s LTL evolution. However, Harik is “perfectly suited” for the CEO role in the second phase, which the person said is to “take the business to the next level.” 

That next level no doubt includes a continued heavy dose of digitization as Jacobs pushes toward his goal of achieving $1 billion in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the unit by 2022. Through increased efficiency and a solid ongoing pricing backdrop, the unit’s adjusted operating margin has increased more than 1,000 basis points since 2015, according to company figures.

Harik assumes the role at probably the most critical period since XPO’s founding. In early August, XPO spun off its logistics operation, now known as GXO Logistics Inc. (NYSE:GXO). The LTL business, along with XPO’s brokerage and final-mile divisions, stayed with the original company. Jacobs has made no secret of his desire to increase XPO’s valuation to or near the lofty levels of pure-play LTL companies like Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. (NASDAQ:ODFL) and Saia Inc. (NASDAQ:SAIA). Both companies, whose share prices have been on fire for months, trade at between 25 and 30 times their 2022 earnings estimates. XPO trades at around 16 times its 2022 estimates. With the LTL business being the tail that will wag XPO’s valuation dog, Harik has a big job ahead of him. 

By all accounts a brilliant technologist, Harik steps into a different culture with LTL. A tough-as-nails business once dominated by organized labor, LTL’s network model is also extremely complicated and very costly if not run efficiently. The nature of LTL operations has typically required seasoned operators like Brooks to manage. When truckload carrier Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. (NYSE:KNX) acquired LTL carrier AAA Cooper Transport earlier this year, it kept all of ACT’s executives and personnel. It remains to be seen how well Harik’s managerial skills transfer to LTL. 

The person close to XPO said that “Harik understands the LTL business better than anyone” at the company. In February, Harik was named XPO’s chief customer officer, according to his LinkedIn profile. That move might have foretold his ascension to the top LTL job.

Don Newell, who spent years in LTL operations and today runs an LTL consultancy, called shifting an IT head to the top operations job a “tricky proposition.” Newell said he’s unsure that an IT specialist would be able to fully grasp the operations, pricing, costing and customer service duties required for the job. One benefit is that LTL operations people should have an easier time getting IT support for their efforts, Newell said.

Newell said that Harik, whom he doesn’t know, “might prove me wrong, but my guess is that it will take significant time for him to adjust and make it work, if it happens at all.”

Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.

5 Comments

  1. I agree with Don Newell, I doubt this dude will ever understand the LTL business as we know it. However that’s not why he’s there. He’s put in that position to take XPO into the automated truck business. Jacobs has said many times that this is what he see’s as the future In trucking. He’s a guy that has no connection to what drivers and dock workers go through on a daily basis. He approaches the job with no qualms about putting drivers out of work.

    1. Hi dear sir/madem my name Basit Abbasi from Pakistan living Dubai I have more than 15years UAE heavy duty driving experience with valid driving licence I’m interested work with your team thanks you best regards basit Abbasi

  2. XPO need to treat day drivers better nhb I retired this year of May HR department sucks in this company I went through hell with this company last four years

  3. As long as Mr Brooks is out of the picture XPO can only go in one direction and that is up I took a job shortly after the Con-Way takeover I’ve been waiting to see some kind of move from upper management for over five years Hopefully this is it Up to this point this place has to be the poorest run LTL operation I have ever seen The management all the way down to dock supervisors are still managing the way Con-Way did With no idea how to manage freight let alone people The service would be the worst in the industry if it wasn’t for the way they lie it away I’m hoping to see a lot of changes soon XPO has so much potential and as soon as I see a lot of management being replaced with people that at least have a small understanding of what LTL is I’ll know I made the correct move years ago

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