Biesterfeld takes over helm of C.H. Robinson from Wiehoff – FreightWaves Staff

Bob Biesterfeld is taking over at C.H. Robinson for John Wiehoff, who will become chairman of the Board. Photo ILLustration: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Bob Biesterfeld will succeed John Wiehoff as CEO of C.H. Robinson (NASDAQ: CHRW), one of the world’s largest third-party logistics companies.

Biesterfeld, a 20-year company veteran who was named chief operating officer in March 2018, will take over on May 9 at the annual meeting of shareholders.

“C.H. Robinson has always led the industry through our talented people and high performing culture, and we will continue to combine that with a focus on driving innovation and digital transformation,” Biesterfeld said in a news release. “We are accelerating our investments in emerging technology to further transform how we create value within our global ecosystem of over 124,000 customers and 76,000 active contract carriers.”

Biesterfeld’s elevation to CEO comes on the heels of somewhat mixed results in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings, in which the company beat Wall Street expectations but missed on gross revenue.

Analysts said after the earnings call that C.H. Robinson’s flexible cost model and diversified business model offers some protection in what some have called a softening market.

Biesterfeld told analysts that “automating transactions and direct load matching are certainly part of the reason why operating margin has expanded and why we believe the opportunity to continue to expand operating margin, but it’s really only part of the story.”

Wiehoff has served as CEO of C.H. Robinson since 2002, and will move into the chairman role after Biesterfeld takes over day-to-day operations. Wiehoff started working for the company as a corporate controller in 1992, and worked his way up to treasurer, chief financial officer, senior vice president, president, director, CEO and chairman of the board.

Prior to his start at C.H. Robinson, Wiehoff worked at accounting firm Arthur Anderson.

Scott Anderson, who will become the firm’s lead independent director as part of the move, congratulated Wiehoff for his “extraordinary leadership as CEO of Robinson over the past 17 years.”

During Wiehoff’s tenure, the company has increased revenue more than 500 percent to $16.6 billion, Anderson said, driving shareholder returns of 13 percent over the past 17 years.

“Most importantly, John has built a strong culture of performance and a team of talented employees that provide industry leading logistics expertise to our customers and carriers,” Anderson said.

Biesterfeld also worked his way up through the ranks at the 15,000-employee firm, serving in various sales roles before moving into leadership positions for sourcing, then surface transportation. Finally, he was appointed COO one year ago.

Wiehoff called Biesterfeld “right person” to lead the company as it makes investments toward future growth.

“During his almost two decades at Robinson, Bob has consistently demonstrated deep industry knowledge, strategic vision, and a passion for delivering results,” Wiehoff said. “He has been the driving force behind our digital transformation efforts, accelerating the pace of innovation and technology deployment across our platform.”

Biesterfield, 43, who received his undergraduate degree from Winona State University, also serves on the board of the Transportation Intermediaries Association and the Winona State University Foundation.

C.H. Robinson is publicly traded on the NASDAQ.

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