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Biesterfeld out as C.H. Robinson’s president, CEO

Board chairman named interim CEO

Bob Biesterfeld has stepped down as C.H. Robinson's president and CEO. (File photo)

Third-party logistics provider and freight brokerage giant C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. said Tuesday morning that President and CEO Bob Biesterfeld has stepped down. The abrupt resignation was effective as of Saturday.

Biesterfeld also resigned from C.H. Robinson’s board, the Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based company said.

Scott Anderson, Robinson’s board chairman since 2020, has been named interim CEO, the company said. Jodie Kozlak, who runs her own consulting firm, was named independent board chair. The company has begun a search for a permanent CEO.

Biesterfeld’s departure had been in the works for months, said a person familiar with the matter. The announcement was “all a matter of timing,” the person said.

Biesterfeld joined Robinson in 1999 and had served as CEO since May 2019. Prior to that, he was the company’s chief operating officer for 14 months. Biesterfeld held multiple roles at Robinson, including president of the company’s key North American Surface Transportation (NAST) unit.

The high-level change came less than two months after Robinson (NASDAQ: CHRW) reported weaker-than-expected third-quarter results. Several days after the announcement, the company said it would lay off 650 employees. The company employed nearly 17,000 people at the time.


At the time it disclosed its third-quarter results, Biesterfeld said the company had “got ahead of ourselves in terms of head count” and that he did not forecast that truckload demand, spot and contract rates would decline as rapidly as they have.

Ravi Shanker, transport analyst at Morgan Stanley & Co. (NYSE: MS) said in a Tuesday note that the move was “not unexpected but still likely a surprise” since it occurred on the first business day of 2023 and did not involve a transition period.

Shanker said the change was driven by the board’s belief that it was time to accelerate its digital transformation strategy.” He also said that some investors may have considered the possibility that a high-level change was needed given NAST’s underperformance during very strong cycles for the brokerage industry.

“Even with two of the biggest upcycles in history and two deep downcycles in the past five years, (Robinson) has been unable to capitalize, despite the brokerage model being tailor-made to succeed in boom-bust cycles” and the company’s dominant market position, Shanker said.

8 Comments

  1. Erik Link

    Could never hire a driver to be a CEO. When I had to actually deal with drivers I spent over 20 hrs week dealing with issues like threatening female loaders/unloaders, not showering and getting complaints from other drivers, yelling racists threats at our customers…list goes on and on and on.

  2. Larry

    CH Robinson has been and is still headed in the wrong direction. If you don’t take care of your employees, they won’t take care of you. The employees will look for a different employer. Relationships are very important to a carrier looking for loads. Go all digital, eliminate relational interactions, book by app or website involvement and watch the decline accelerate. They won’t be on top very much longer

  3. Juan Santana

    Every greed will be judged hurting the small owner operators. owner operator are losing more then any other business that’s the rates they offer barley covers a flat tire on the road including tolls and fuel god don’t like ugly what ever is sown on earth is what they will reap.

  4. WhiteStar129

    I am sorry to read that the drivers and carriers were ripped off. If I had known, our company would have bailed sooner on not using C.H. Robinson for LTL shipping. We eventually dropped them because their quotes bore no resemblance to the actual shipping cost billed. So all of us were being scammed.

  5. Ron Zinn

    Any one who take $196000 a week pay, while stealing the money from the trucking companies should step down.. a slap in the face to drivers who have to stay on the road for months at a time and still cant aford to pay the bills .. 6 dollar a gallon fuel and record high business expences and that man is squeezing us down to 2 dollars a mile.. he needs Fired..

  6. Pete

    They should hire a truck driver with real world experience in what’s happening with the trucking industry to be the ceo instead of these rich college educated types that are relatively clueless to what’s really happening on the ground.

  7. Dan Chidester

    After ripping off shippers and even more carriers for the last 9 months, NO SURPRISE HERE ! SHIPPERS AND CARRIERS STAY AWAY TO PUT THE HURT ON THERE STOCK PRICE AND LEADERSHIP.

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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.