CFO Lifetime Achievement: Jeff Holt, Stallion Transportation Group

CFO Lifetime Achievement: Jeff Holt, Stallion Transportation Group
Jeff Holt, EVP & CFO / Stallion Transportation Group / Beebe

Doing the right thing is an everyday thing for Jeff Holt.

Holt, 65, has been the CFO of Stallion Transportation Group in Beebe since it started in August 1992. In fact, CEO Butch Rice said the company may not have even come into existence, much less survived and thrived the past 30 years, without Holt.

When Rice decided to start his transportation and brokerage company, he knew he wanted his lifelong friend as his financial right-hand man. The two — Holt is five years older than his boss — grew up on the same street in the Rose City neighborhood of North Little Rock. 

Holt ran track and field at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia and earned an accounting degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He was working at his sister’s insurance company when Rice approached him about joining his startup company; he hasn’t regretted it.

“We have had a great relationship,” Holt said. “We disagreed a lot on different avenues and paths over the years, but I think that is what has made it work really well. He is more of a risk taker, and I’m not. 

“We have managed to hammer [decisions] out over the years. It has been a fabulous relationship.”

He has myriad responsibilities at Stallion, from financing equipment purchases to paying drivers and finding real estate for company facilities. But, above all, Holt looks out for Stallion’s employees and customers.

It helps that no one questions his honesty or devotion. 

“Every day you strive to do the right thing,” Holt said. “Sometimes you really have to sweat over what is the right thing here? That encompasses everybody you touch. You’re in business to survive and be profitable, and sometimes it is not easy to know the right thing. 

“That’s where you want to land at the end of the day with everybody you deal with. Relationships don’t have to be adversarial. I think how you impact everybody around you needs to be at the forefront of your thought process.”

Holt said joining Rice was an easy decision because Stallion started as a third-party brokerage company and there are few transportation salesmen better than Rice. The company became more diverse and complex when the truckload division launched in 1998.

“The brokerage business is pretty cut-and-dried,” Holt said. “Butch is a salesman and he cares about his customers. One of the driving missions here is if we commit to something we are going to see it through.”

Holt said he and Rice counterbalance each other well; one thinks of all the things that could go right and the other worries about what could go wrong. The partnership has helped Stallion grow to more than $55 million in annual revenue and more than 110 employees.

“I have been deeply involved, not just financially but operationally and strategically,” Holt said. “I’ve been involved in all aspects of what we have done. We grew out of a brokerage before we added trucks. Adding assets is taking on a whole new world when you’re talking about physical equipment and drivers. Revenue just for the sake of revenue is not always good when you’re talking about growth.” 

Holt said it has been amazing to watch the company grow for three decades. Now he looks forward to its future behind a second wave of leaders such as controller Drew Parsons and Garland Rice, the son of the CEO who is involved in operations.

“I saw him when he was born,” Holt said. “It is exciting to see the new guard coming up.”

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