Daseke, Inc. (NASDAQ: DSKE) announced today, August 15, 2019, that its founder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Don Daseke will retire effective immediately. Daseke will continue to serve as a board member under the role of Chairman Emeritus.
The largest flatbed, specialized transportation and logistics company in North America announced that current Chief Operating Officer Chris Easter will act as the interim Chief Executive Officer.
Easter has been Daseke’s COO since January. Prior to joining Daseke earlier this year, Easter served as the Chief Executive Officer of Keen Transport (“a specialized transportation, warehouse, and logistics company focused on serving the industrial equipment market”) for six years. Easter has more than 30 years of operations leadership experience with the U.S. Army, Walmart (NYSE: WMT) and Schneider National (NYSE: SNDR).
Board member Brian Bonner will serve as the Executive Chairman. Bonner, formerly Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Texas Instruments (NASDAQ: TXN), has served on Daseke’s board for the last four years. Over his 33-year career with Texas Instruments he held various roles and has held board seats with other organizations.
Bonner said, “Don has been an inspirational force for Daseke since its inception and has led the Company with vision and integrity throughout his tenure. We thank Don for his leadership, under which we proudly became the largest flatbed and specialized carrier in North America. The Board has the utmost regard for Don and wholly respects his decision to pass the reins of leadership for the next phase of Daseke’s evolution. We’re pleased that his enthusiasm and business sense will remain with the Board as he continues as a director of the Company. We are all in alignment to position Daseke for future success and drive long-term value for our shareholders.”
Today’s announcement comes a little more than a week after the company lowered its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) forecast by 17 percent for 2019, citing weakness in the flatbed market. Shares of DSKE dipped more than 25 percent on the diminished outlook.
On its second quarter 2019 earnings call the same day, Daseke announced that it was making operational changes designed to better integrate its prior acquisitions and drive improved efficiency throughout all of its businesses. The company said that it will consolidate some of its separately operated business units, taking the total count of separate entities from 16 to 13. The entirety of Daseke’s operational improvements is expected to generate $20 to $25 million in operating income by fiscal 2021.
The restructuring of operations comes after a sustained period of acquisitions. In its decade in existence, the company has completed 19 acquisitions, grown its fleet count from 60 tractors to more than 6,000 units and seen revenue grow from $30 million to potentially more than $1.7 billion this year.
Daseke’s renewed focus on improving the underlying operations of its acquisitions includes other moves made earlier this year like adding the COO role (which Easter filled in January) and adding three new board members with operational expertise in May.
“We have an industry-leading specialized and flatbed platform that is truly unique in the transportation industry. I’m grateful to Don for his vision and leadership in building that platform. I am fully committed to this role as we pivot our strategy towards long-term operational excellence. Looking forward, we will continually evaluate opportunities and initiatives to improve our base operations and deliver greater value for Daseke’s shareholders,” said Easter.
Don Daseke concluded, “I am incredibly proud of what we have built over the last decade. Daseke remains a truly unique company, with a platform designed to support future growth on both the top- and bottom-lines. I am leaving the company in the hands of a very strong and deep leadership team across the organization. Investing in people has always been my guiding principle and we have invested in this team, which makes me very confident that they will help Daseke achieve its full potential.”