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When Judy McReynolds took over as CEO of what was then known as Arkansas Best on Jan. 1, 2010, she knew what she was getting into because the company had posted a loss of nearly $128 million the previous year.
Fast-forward a decade and ArcBest Corp. of Fort Smith is enjoying the most lucrative year of its history. McReynolds, 59, has overseen the company’s logistics diversification, the rebranding to ArcBest and profits of at least $15.8 million annually since 2013.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t hindered ArcBest’s success. The company reported profits of $71.1 million in 2020 and more than $148 million in the first three quarters of fiscal 2021.
McReynolds, who is also the company’s president and chairman, said the results are because ArcBest’s 14,000 employees “rolled up their sleeves” and went to work solving problems. Challenges are often great opportunities.
“Our challenges are our customers’ challenges,” McReynolds said. “We’ve had record revenues, record profits in a very challenging environment when you can’t really have all the resources you want at your fingertips. We’re struggling just like everyone is to get the right equipment in the right places and hire people. I feel great about our team’s ability to come together and do the best they could in a difficult environment.”
McReynolds had been CFO at the company before her promotion to CEO, and one of her first goals was to diversify the company’s logistical offerings. The company’s network flexibility has proved invaluable during the current economic difficulties.
McReynolds said when the pandemic first disrupted the supply chain, she tried to be honest and forthright with her company’s customers about the situation. She said one of her driving tenets of leadership is to respond to issues quickly and honestly.
“You just want someone to tell you and you want to know you can trust what they say,” McReynolds said. “I try to do that very timely. You lead by example when you do that. Our people know that the expectation is … to respond and communicate and do a great job of trying to figure out someone’s challenge.”
“We do that every day.”