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Mastery Logistics hires Hartford, prominent analyst, as CFO

Hiring rounds out Mastery’s C-level team, co-founder Silver says

Benjamin Hartford joins Mastery Logistics as CFO (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Logistics software provider Mastery Logistics said Monday that it has hired Benjamin J. Hartford, a longtime securities analyst, as its first-ever chief financial officer, thus rounding out the leadership ranks at the 21-month-old company.

Hartford, who spent 15 years at Milwaukee-based investment firm Baird covering transportation and logistics, will also help develop and execute Mastery’s strategic initiatives, a common role for CFOs at a startup firm. Hartford started at Mastery on Monday.

The announcement comes on the heels of Lake Forest, Illinois-based Mastery’s November hiring of Marie Colbert as its chief commercial officer. Colbert had served as president and CEO of logistics software provider REZ-1 for 17 years and became president when REZ-1 was rebranded as Blume Global in 2018. 

At the same time as Colbert’s hiring, Mastery brought on Derek Nelson to serve as the company’s chief scientist. Nelson has spent several years in the supply chain IT field and is also an adjunct professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

In a statement Monday, Mastery co-founder and CEO Jeff Silver said Hartford’s hiring has “rounded out our executive team with strong leaders to complement our existing team.” 

Silver and Paul Loeb, both of whom have deep entrepreneurial and executive experience in the logistics space, founded Mastery in April 2019. Silver and his wife, Marianne, founded freight broker Coyote Logistics in 2006. Nine years later, UPS Inc. (NYSE:UPS) acquired Coyote for $1.8 billion. The Silvers stayed at UPS for a short time before departing. Marianne Silver is Mastery’s chief people officer, the same position she held at Coyote. 

In 1994, Loeb founded American Backhaulers, one of the first U.S.-based freight brokers to heavily employ information technology capabilities. In 1999, brokerage and logistics giant C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. (NASDAQ:CHRW) acquired Backhaulers for $136 million. Loeb went on to found brokerage Command Transportation in 2005. Ten years later, brokerage giant Echo Global Logistics (NASDAQ:ECHO) acquired Command for $420 million.

In a phone interview over the weekend, Hartford, who joined Baird in 2005 after obtaining a master’s degree from Indiana University, said the Silvers’ track record and reputation for building strong internal cultures were the principal reasons for making the move. Hartford said that he was not looking for opportunities outside Baird when Silver approached him.

Silver, who built a formidable IT infrastructure at Coyote, told FreightWaves in 2019 that his goal at Mastery was to connect shippers, carriers and intermediaries in ways never fully probed by software developers.

“Thousands and thousands of people are spending the vast majority of their time on the telephone or on a website making appointments,” he said in the interview. “What we’d like to do is create a centralized and automated process so that as loads are being tendered, they’re tendered with appointments that are preset based on the needs of the customer, the preferences of the carrier or broker who’s involved and also taking load attributes into consideration.”

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.