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Update: USA Truck CEO John Simone Takes Leave of Absence

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USA Truck Inc. CEO John Simone is taking an indefinite leave of absence because of a recent diagnosis of a “serious medical condition,” the Van Buren trucking company said Monday.

Company executives declined to reveal what Simone’s diagnosis was or how long he was expected to be on leave. Simone, 53, is receiving treatment for this illness, said Bob Peiser, the chairman of the company’s board of directors.

“This is serious, and John needs to recover,” Peiser said. “We wish John the best.”

Thomas Glaser, a member of the board of directors, will serve as interim COO. Simone was named CEO as the company in February 2013, replacing Cliff Beckham, who became CFO before resigning in September 2014.

USA Truck referred all questions about Simone to CFO Michael Borrows, who participated in a conference call with Peiser. Peiser and Borrows both said the company would continue the turnaround plan started by Simone.

“Our business plan hasn’t changed,” Borrows said. “The team is engaged. John doesn’t want this to be a distraction.”

USA Truck reported annual income of $6 million for 2014, its first profitable year since 2008. Simone called the year “transformative” after the trucking company had fended off a hostile takeover bid from Knight Transportation Inc. of Phoenix in 2013.

“We expect the momentum to continue,” Peiser said.

Glaser, who has previously served as the company’s interim COO, was named to the board of directors May 23, 2014 as the behest of USA Truck’s majority stockholder, United Shareholders for the Benefit of USAK. The group is a combination of Stone House Capital of New York City and Baker Street Capital of Los Angeles, which own a combined 28 percent of USA Truck’s shares.

“John and his team have placed USA Truck firmly on the right path to executing the company’s strategic plan and unlocking its earning potential,” Glaser said in the news release. “I look forward to assisting them in those efforts and wish John a speedy recovery.”

Simone earned slightly more than $1 million in 2013 in his first year as CEO in salary, bonus and stock options according to a proxy filing with the SEC. USA Truck has not released its proxy for the 2014 financial year.

“The board understands that it is in John’s best interests at this time to focus on his health and recover from his illness,” Peiser said.

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