Hiring Veterans Personal for J.B. Hunt's John Roberts

Hiring Veterans Personal for J.B. Hunt's John Roberts
John Roberts III, the CEO and president of J.B. Hunt Transport Services in Lowell. (J.B. Hunt Transport Services)

In 2014, J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. of Lowell announced a goal of hiring 10,000 military veterans by 2020.

And the goal has been reached: CEO and President John Roberts III tweeted Jan. 7 that his company had hired its 10,000th veteran in December, and that more than 15% of J.B. Hunt’ 23,000 employees once served in the military.

“New goals for JBHT veteran hiring coming soon!” Roberts posted, using the company’s Nasdaq ticker symbol.

The veterans are working in a variety of positions, not just driving or entry-level jobs, the company emphasized.

“There’s so much potential for veterans in this industry, so we’ve established a support effort to help them develop rewarding careers that match their skillset with our opportunities,” Roberts said in a Jan. 7 news release.

“This was a bold and honorable goal for us, and I am very proud of all who helped make it happen.”

For Roberts, the company’s commitment and support for the country’s veterans is personal. He isn’t much for giving interviews, but he did make a speech at the company’s Wreaths Across America ceremony in December.

In the talk, posted on YouTube, Roberts said Wreaths Across America was one of his favorite events. J.B. Hunt has been participating since 2014, and company executives, including Roberts and COO Craig Harper, join a caravan of Hunt trucks — driven by employees who are veterans — that carry the wreaths across the country to a laying ceremony at Fayetteville National Cemetery.

“The important part of the takeaway for me is this is a very special day in the way that we honor our veterans, but truly every day is a special day,” Roberts said in the speech. “I don’t want it to be lost as just one day or one event. This is where we stand.”

Roberts said the wreath ceremony stirred up memories of where his “heartfelt support for veterans” came from. Roberts, who is in his mid-50s, said he recalled being at a friend’s house and watching newscasts of veterans returning home from the Vietnam War and getting upset because people would “mock and disrespect” the veterans.

“I remember so clearly knowing how wrong that was,” Roberts said. “It started something way back then that has built and grown for me, and it is with complete commitment and conviction that we stand in support of our military and our veterans.”

Roberts said his uncle died in service during World War II and the family was able to lay him to rest a couple of years ago. Roberts’ nephew is a recent graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

“It is a part of my family,” Roberts said of the military.

It is also part of the company’s DNA. J.B. Hunt doesn’t just hire veterans, it has a Veterans Employee Resource Group to help with on-the-job support.

The military marketing company VIQTORY of Moon Township, Pennsylvania, has ranked J.B. Hunt as a “military-friendly company” for 13 years. J.B. Hunt, according to VIQTORY, has a 100% score in six metrics: hiring and onboarding, opportunity and advancement, culture and commitment, support and retention, policies and compliance, and recruiting and sourcing.

Roberts said in his speech that success has been intentional. A decade ago, Roberts said, the company recommitted its focus on several priorities such as education, health care and crisis management, all important.

“The fourth and maybe most important is our support for veterans,” Roberts said. “I am glad for the other three, but I can tell you I am personally proud of the way this company supports veterans.

“The military is a part of everything we do as a country and our company’s ability to genuinely, authentically support our veterans day in and day out … is so important.”