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Landair’s Tweed has need for speed

By: Tim Brady & Brad Bentley

Brad Bentley

A University of Alabama graduate with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, Bentley spent 15 years as a trucking Publisher before becoming the Editorial Director for Randall-Reilly's Recruiting Media division.

Landair President

If it’s got wheels, John Tweed, president and CEO of Landair Transport, Inc., is involved with it – he loved cars and trucks growing up, and nowadays races in what little spare time he has. On weekends, he trades life behind a desk for being strapped in behind the wheel of his Fastrak Racing Series-sanctioned Pro Late Model car.

“I have an extreme passion for dirt track racing. It took me eight years to win my first race, the Saturday before my 47th birthday,” Tweed said. “It was a great gift. I just hate that it took so long.” However, even if it takes time, Tweed will do things right.

He started working at Landair as a filing clerk when he was 19 years old. He also washed Scott Niswonger’s (then Chairman and CEO of Landair) car regularly. “I was more interested in trucking maintenance than filing at this age. For the next year, I spent most of my time around the shop learning about trucks,” Tweed stated. “I took a full-time position with Landair after I graduated from college, focusing on the sales side of trucking. At the young age of 24, I became Vice President of Sales for six years.”

Tweed left Landair to become president of Warehouse Logistics LLC, a privately-held company jointly owned with Landair founder, Scott Niswonger. The two companies merged, and in December 2000, Tweed was named President and CEO for Landair. He is responsible for Landair’s strategic direction, operation, and financial performance. With his leadership team, he manages day-to-day company operations, including sales and marketing, fleet operations, recruiting, finance, safety, information technology, and fleet maintenance, as well as directing continuous improvement strategies.

Tweed says he has only one request for a ‘do-over.’ “I wish I could’ve spent a year in a truck, a year in customer service, a year in dispatch. Those priceless experiences would have aided me in leading our organization.”

But his mantra – serve your drivers and your customers like you would your employer or family, and inspire value for them every year – meshes nicely with Landair’s mission to provide world-class transportation, warehousing and distribution solutions. By maximizing efficiency, asset utilization, and flexibility, Tweed ensures an unparalleled level of driver, customer and all other stakeholders’ satisfaction. “I’ll never change inspiring people to do the “right thing”…which isn’t always easy, but it’s always the best,” Tweed added. “We all are responsible and accountable for how we conduct business.”

So what’s in focus? Tweed wants to broaden Landair’s customer base, grow revenue and opportunity for employees, create an ownership structure allowing employees to invest in the company, and broaden value-added service options to meet needs of their drivers, customers, and stakeholders.

He’s also very proud of Landair’s “Making a Difference Team,” which is committed to the success of their drivers. The group, representing every department, meets weekly to go over any issues, successes, concerns, to address their driving force. “We’ve found innovative ways to communicate, train, orient, and dispatch by this group working on subjects drivers ask us to address,” Tweed said. “We’ve improved our training, pay, safety, etc., and I’m excited to see our current drivers respond to new Driver Appreciation gifts. Our drivers and customers are the key to our success and we know that!”

With so many options for drivers and owner operators, Tweed says Landair has the pay, home time, lifestyle, and equipment today’s trucking professionals are seeking. Landair offers dedicated, local and regional opportunities east of the Mississippi river, with a pay package at the top of the industry for experienced drivers and owner operators.

Home time is weekly, daily, or weekends depending on the option a driver chooses. Tractors are 2011-2014 Freightliners, but the most important element is what a driver’s and owner operator’s lifestyle will be at Landair. “We have the most talented group of employees that genuinely care about and support our team of drivers in EVERY operation we run,”  Tweed said. “I am so impressed with the conversations that take place every day around making one of our drivers or owners more successful here!”

And about that “spare time.” In addition to the racing, Tweed’s hobbies include spending time with his family and playing guitar. “I’m so blessed to have a wife that is a wonderful mother. We have three awesome children and two amazing grandchildren that I adore,” Tweed stated. His 15-year-old son enjoys working with the grounds and maintenance crew at Landair and talking with drivers in the shop – often offering some helpful feedback. “I also love music; that’s why I’ve started playing the guitar. I’m not really good at it, so I don’t think you’ll see me on TV any time soon,” Tweed quipped.

As for the future of our industry, Tweed sees a lot of growth potential and prosperity for those companies that can inspire their drivers and employees to provide a high level of customized service and be world-class in managing the cost it will take to provide this service.

The local track where Tweed races is named Volunteer Speedway, but the locals call it “The Gap”. John Tweed loves to compete there as well as in the business world; and with him at the helm of Landair Transport, the company is rapidly closing the gap on their competition.

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