Dart Transit, a Minnesota-based transportation service provider, has appointed Dave Ables as president and CEO, the company announced on Dec. 6.
Ables, 51, a former executive with PAM Transport, will direct the day-to-day operations at Dart. He will also lead the management team, reporting directly to Dart Chairman Donald G. Oren, who will continue his daily involvement in the operation of the company that the Oren family has owned since its founding in 1934.
“I had a great role with PAM Transport,” said Ables, who spoke to FreightWaves on Dec. 5, his fourth day on the job. “I loved that organization, but I’m always looking for opportunities.”
After learning about Dart’s 85-year history “as a company based on a foundation of good customer service, and great relationships with drivers and their employees,” Ables was confident Dart was an ideal fit for his interests and career experiences.
He brings 25 years of transportation experience to the position, having served in executive leadership positions for the past six years with PAM. Prior to his appointment with Dart, Ables was the vice president of operations and marketing for all 13 of the company’s operating divisions.
Dart customers and employees, he said, “can expect a hands-on leader who is willing to talk to the drivers, willing to meet with the customers and is willing to put together a platform that enhances the basic foundation of what we already have.”
Founded by Oren’s father, Earl, Dart has grown to a fleet of 1,600 owner-operators and company drivers. In addition to truckload services, Dart offers logistics, warehousing, relay, storage and intermodal solutions throughout the U.S.
Ables said he wants to continue to foster relationships with owner-operators and to bring more on board. He views the soft freight market as “an opportunity,” explaining that lower prices can attract new customers, who then learn “who we are based on our service platform” and other offerings.
Dart launched a national search for the executive position, with a focus on “finding a leader with the right depth and breadth of experience within all of Dart’s markets and facets,” Don Oren said in a statement.
“Over his career in transportation, Dave has established an impressive track record of success, and I am confident he will bring valuable insights and innovative approaches that will benefit our entire organization and all our customers,” Oren added.
The company was particularly impressed with the leadership Ables exhibited within the truckload market and his ability to work well with employees, owner-operators, customers and the community alike, Oren said.
In addition to his time with PAM, Ables held truckload leadership positions with other carriers, including Barr-Nunn, CRST and Stevens Transport. In serving as the Retail Supply Chain Practice leader for Ohio’s Global Executive Solutions, Ables oversaw strategic sourcing, global purchasing, network optimization and a variety of logistics functions.
Ables and his wife, Lori, both have family ties to the Midwest, growing up in Iowa, where Dave attended the University of Northern Iowa.
While he was on the phone with FreightWaves, Ables noted, a family Christmas party was taking place outside his office. Earlier that day, the company hosted a luncheon celebrating employees who had been with the company at least 25 years.
“That shows me that this is an organization that cares about its people, cares about their families and obviously that’s what made them a successful organization over the past 85 years,” Ables said.
He plans to build on that legacy.
“I know from talking to Don and his sons throughout the interview process that what they are looking for is a leader who can set the foundation for another 10-15 years and then pass that on to another person to continue and run it for another 85 years.”