ORT Chief Getting Up To Speed

by Paul Gatling  on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 9:35 am  

Joel Gardner can best summarize his goals for Ozark Regional Transit with one word — efficiency.

Considering his background serving in the U. S. Marine Corps, it’s easy to understand. Gardner, hired in September as the ORT’s new executive director, only recently has relocated his family and gotten settled into his new office in Springdale.

ORT’s management firm, First Transit, reassigned Gardner’s predecessor, Phil Pumphrey, after 10 years in the wake of a failed sales-tax measure last spring in Washington County.

Gardner has worked with transit systems in Jonesboro, Reno, Nev., and Sherman, Texas. He sat down recently with the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal to discuss his goals for the organization, as well as his thoughts on ridership, funding and the future of ORT as a public transit service.


Northwest Arkansas Business Journal: How did you get interested in this field? What is your background in the transportation industry?

Joel Gardner: I fell into it. I was in Idaho with the Marine Corps and private industry. My wife wanted to take a final transfer over to Arkansas to be with her dad. I was looking for work and the interview I had with the city of Jonesboro had kind of fallen through. By the time we had moved out there, the person that they eventually did hire for the job had quit. They needed somebody to finish their budget, so I stepped in with a $2 million budget and an office and a staff of one — me — and started it from there. That was 2005.


NWABJ: Tell me about your experience with the Marines.

JG: Pretty simple. They taught me how to lead. That’s really what it boils down to. No glory, no guts. That’s me.


NWABJ: What is your role as executive director of the ORT?



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