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Mark Walker expects to lead the transportation company for two to five years.
Mark Walker expects to lead the transportation company for two to five years.

TCSI-Transland names new CEO

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For Strafford-based transportation company TCSI-Transland Inc., a move at the top means swapping brother for brother.

In the case of the Walker brothers, the younger brother is stepping down, and the older brother is negotiating a dramatic career change.

Mark Walker, 56, was named chairman and CEO last month, succeeding his younger brother, Mike Walker, to lead the trucking company founded by their parents, Glendon and Anna Walker. Mike Walker resigned April 15 for personal reasons, according to company officials.

Mark Walker worked most recently in Silicon Valley California for semiconductor manufacturer Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT) leading its global community affairs division and serving as director of its foundation. Walker has 34 years of experience in the technology and nonprofit sectors, about half of which was spent in Silicon Valley. A longtime employee for AT&T predecessor SBC, he served for five years as director of United Way Silicon Valley before he was recruited by Applied Materials to run 10 of its global communications divisions.

Walker, a Drury University graduate, has come home to lead the family business with 160 trucks, 230 employees and a client list that includes Reckitt-Benckiser, Loren Cook Co., Bass Pro Shops and Ozarks Dr Pepper-Coca Cola Bottling Co.

“It wasn’t something I was anticipating. My brother decided he needed to get out for a lot of different reasons, and mom and dad were looking for what the right approach would be. They didn’t want to sell the business; they love the employees and they didn’t want to impose on me,” Walker said. “I was just in the right spot and right time in my career. I was going to go do something different. I figured I had one more leadership position in me, and I told them I was available.”

Walker said he left Applied Materials in January in search of a new career challenge, and he’s eager to move into a new industry.

“There’s a lot of common elements in leadership. That’s what excites me the most. All the things I’ve learned until now, both in the for-profit and nonprofit worlds, I get to utilize yet again,” said Walker, whose first day on the job was April 17.

Scott Chastain, vice president of operations and a 15-year veteran with TCSI, said he’s glad the company culture is intact after the younger Walker stepped down.

“We’ve always had a family culture, and with Mark now as CEO, he still brings those same values to the company,” Chastain said. “I met Mark once about 10 years ago and we hit it off back then, but we’ve spent numerous hours in the last two-and-a-half to three weeks talking strategies and talking growth.”

Chastain said 5 percent growth is attainable in 2013 – a goal of Walker’s – but driver shortages is an obstacle to increasing revenue.

“Driver shortages are going to be a problem for the next several years,” Chastain said.

According to an American Trucking Association study released in November, the industry is experiencing a shortage of 20,000 to 25,000 for-hire drivers – stats that have plagued trucking companies since the early 2000s.

As recently as 2008, TCSI reported revenues of $50 million and a fleet of 200 tractors. The next year, the recession put pressure on the trucking industry, and Mike Walker called the situation, “the most difficult environment I’ve witnessed in my 26-year career,” in a 2009 Springfield Business Journal story. That year, he said sales were down about 30 percent, not adjusting for fuel costs, leading the company to lay off 10 people and pull 15 tractors off the road.

Mark Walker said current annual revenues are slightly below 2008 levels. He plans to review driver pay and retention rates, which are currently 72 percent, compared to a national rate of 86 percent, he said.

Walker said he expects to hold his position for two to five years, leading what likely could be a transition in leadership outside the Walker family to a nonfamily member with industry experience. The company was founded as Terminal Consolidation Co. in 1982, when Glendon Walker left Frisco Transportation – the trucking line of the railroad company – after the Burlington Northern merger with Frisco.

“Our executives have been around for 14 to 20 years and other managers have been around for a good number of years, so it’s not like someone needs to tell them how to run the trucking company well,” Mark Walker said, declining to disclose company revenues.

“It’s really about maximizing the qualities that are there.”[[In-content Ad]]


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