USA Truck's New Management Navigates a Learning Curve

by Marty Cook  on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 12:00 am  

USA Truck CEO John Simone, an experienced turnaround artist, put together a 27-point plan that has helped the Van Buren company’s stock price almost triple in the past year. (Photos by Kat Wilson)

One analyst said USA Truck’s best defense against the takeover bid was a return to profitability, which is Simone’s goal as well. Simone and Beckham and the rest of the team are not focused just on the end result but on getting everything in order operationally so that profitability follows.

“I would give us a ‘B’ for last year,” Simone said. “We’re not sacrificing the long term for short-term profits. I tell the team we are in control of our destiny. As we continue to improve the company, the value of the company goes up.”

Beckham said his boss was being a bit too stingy with the grade because of the disappointment of not turning a profitable quarter for the first time in five years. Beckham has been on the front lines during those five years, including 2012 when USA Truck lost $17.6 million for the year.

“Creating $21 million of operating income in 10½ months is a substantial accomplishment,” Beckham said. “We all want to make money, but it exceeded my expectations about what we could be able to accomplish.”



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