J.B. Hunt names Shelley Simpson president, CEO

LOWELL, Ark. — Supply chain solutions resource J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. has named Shelley Simpson president and chief executive officer and has also nominated her for election to the company’s board of directors. Simpson has been the company’s president since August 2022.

The company also announced that Kirk Thompson, current executive chairman of the board, along with Wayne Garrison, will both retire from the company’s board of directors and will take newly formed board advisory roles as honorary founding directors. 

Shelley Simpson

John N. Roberts III, outgoing CEO, will assume the role of executive chairman of the board upon Kirk Thompson’s retirement. The changes are part of the company’s “succession planning and board development to support future growth and shareholder confidence.” 

“I am so happy to know Kirk and Wayne will remain involved as advisers beyond their service as directors, and I am excited to congratulate John and Shelley on their new leadership roles,” said Johnelle Hunt, co-founder of J.B. Hunt. “I care deeply about the long-term success of the company, and these changes give me great confidence in the company’s ability to continue to prosper well into the future.”

Shelley Simpson, 52, will begin her new executive role July 1 and has been nominated for election to the board at the company’s upcoming annual shareholders meeting in April.

“Shelley challenges us to be excellent and innovative and always in pursuit of customer value,” Roberts said. “She will continue to remain focused on disciplined investments to drive appropriate returns and long-term growth for the benefit of our people, customers and shareholders. These steps help to ensure the culture and innovative growth mindset that has been so vital to the success of our company remains strong and intact to support the vision and the values of the company for the foreseeable future.”  

Simpson has been at J.B. Hunt for nearly 30 years, serving in a wide range of executive leadership roles “focused on delivering on the company’s vision to create the most efficient transportation network in North America.”

In 2007, she helped found Integrated Capacity Solutions and was named president of the business unit. She assumed sales and marketing executive responsibilities in 2011 as chief marketing officer and took on additional leadership roles in 2014 when she was named president of J.B. Hunt’s Truckload business segment.

She was named chief commercial officer and president of Highway Services in 2017 and led the strategic direction and launch of the J.B. Hunt 360° platform. In 2020, Simpson added responsibilities for people and human resources, and was named president in 2022.

“J.B. Hunt is recognized as a leader in the transportation industry,” Simpson said. “We’re known for our highly talented and experienced people, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to work alongside the very best. Kirk, Wayne and John are not only great leaders, but they understand the importance of building great leaders, and how that creates stability, opportunities for growth and ultimately drives long-term success for a company. They’ve grown a culture of integrity and respect, of innovation, safety and excellence, and I am profoundly grateful for the impact they’ve had and will continue to have on the company.”

The company said that the creation of the honorary founding director positions for Thompson, a director since 1985, and Garrison, a director since 1981, “will help preserve the invaluable experiences these founding executives have to contribute for years to come.”

Thompson joined the company in 1973 and was president and chief executive officer from 1987 through 2010. Garrison joined the company in 1976, becoming its president in 1982 and CEO in 1985. He was chairman of the board from 1995 to 2010.

“As demonstrated by their long-standing dedication and service to the company, both Wayne and Kirk have substantial experience and institutional knowledge with respect to the company and its business, operations, governance and market position that cannot be replaced,” Roberts said. “They have led the company as directors and executive officers through periods of exponential growth and success and remain highly regarded and trusted advisers in the eyes of management, the board and the company’s largest shareholder and founder, Johnelle Hunt. We are thankful for their willingness to assume these newly created roles and look forward to continuing to gain from their experiences of starting and running the company with the Hunt family for now over 50 years. We are fortunate to retain their extensive experience and insights.” 

Retiring from the board before reaching the company’s director age limitations, Thompson and Garrison will not stand for reelection at the company’s annual shareholders meeting, thus allowing additional independent directors to join the board in the future.

In January, the board welcomed Pat Ottensmeyer, former CEO and president of the Kansas City Southern Railroad, as a newly appointed independent director, following the addition of two other independent directors in recent years, Thad Hill and Persio Lisboa. 

“These board and management changes reflect our commitment to developing strong leadership, listening to our stakeholders and enhancing our corporate governance, particularly regarding board independence, while retaining the significant value our long-standing leaders provide,” said Roberts. “Through their decades of influence, Kirk and Wayne have instilled a culture of growth, leadership, respect and success in the company’s management and employees during its over 60-year history. Retaining their guidance and influence supports the continuity and stability of the Hunt family’s founding ownership interest in the company.” 

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