Next-generation of Fuller, Quinn families to lead U.S. truckload carrier
Since its founding 1986, U.S. Xpress Enterprises had been led by only two men. That changed last week when the next generation of the Fuller and Quinn families ascended to top leadership positions with the truckload carrier.
Eric Fuller, son of co-founder Max Fuller, was officially named CEO by the Board of Directors, succeeding his father, who will remain involved as executive chairman. Lisa Quinn Pate, daughter of co-founder Patrick Quinn, has been promoted to president and chief administrative officer.
Pate was named chief administrative officer in 2012 and also served as general counsel. She has been with the carrier since 2002 and served roles in information technology, human resources and safety. Eric Fuller was most recently president and COO responsible for over-the-road, dedicated services, customer service and planning.
“This is something that has been in the works for about four years,” Eric Fuller, told FreightWaves. “It was a decision we made about four years ago when I [transitioned into the president role].”
Fuller, who has held a number of roles with the company in a nearly 20-year career, says that internally, not much will change with the transition.
“I think the direction we were going is what Max was pushing anyway,” he adds. “So Lisa and I taking over will simply be an extension of that.”
The county’s second largest privately owned truckload carrier was founded in 1986 by Max Fuller and Pat Quinn with 48 trucks. It now has over 8,000 tractors and 10,000 employees. Known for its innovation, U.S. Xpress was among the first fleets to adopt technologies such as roll stability, disc brakes, and accident avoidance systems. Last year, the company announced it would test the Nikola One hydrogen-electric Class 8 tractor.
In recent years, U.S. Xpress has increased its reliance on data-driven decisions, which Fuller says will continue. The proliferation of data is now used for everything from equipment decisions to “picking the right type of freight with the right rates,” Fuller explains.
“In my opinion, the winners in this industry almost have to have the mentality of a technology company,” he adds. “You have to constantly be looking at new things and evaluating yourself or you will become stale. We have brought a lot of talented people into the organization from inside the industry and even from outside. We’re trying to bring in people who have ideas because the minute you stop you get stale.”
“Eric and Lisa’s new management roles represent one of many building blocks in our ongoing preparation for years of future success based on data-driven strategies,” Max Fuller said in a statement announcing the leadership change. “Our industry will continue to get more competitive, and the companies with the best leaders, people, processes and equipment will come out on top. I’m confident that Eric and Lisa are the right people to take U.S. Xpress to the next level.”
Growing role of technology
Eric Fuller says that he sees technology playing a larger role than ever going forward.
“I think technology is going to accelerate in the next five years and it is going to lead to change [in the industry] which we’ve never seen before,” he says.
Adapting to change is something that U.S. Xpress has successfully navigated through the years led by Max Fuller as it has continually been an industry leader in growth and innovation. Eric Fuller doesn’t see the change in leadership impacting the decisions that have guided that growth, although he acknowledged that he and Pate may have a slightly more methodical approach.
“[Max] believes in his gut and kind of made decisions on the fly, and I think when you are an entrepreneur [and early-growth company], you need to manage that way,” Fuller says of his father. “And it was very successful. I think what Lisa and I bring is a more methodical approach by looking at the data. When you are a smaller company, you can make a decision and it has an immediate impact, but as a larger company, when you look at the data, we can make a decision and it might be six months before we see a change.
“At the end of the day, I don’t think the decisions we make will be all that different,” he adds. “I just think the process we use to get there will be different.”
In his new role, Max Fuller will focus on long-term strategy industry innovation, talent development and equipment. In addition to Eric Fuller and Lisa Pate, Patrick Quinn’s son Brian is actively involved in the business, running international operations.