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Tom Schmitt Blueprint for Excellence in Logistics

Ninaad Acharya, Dan Coll, Tom Schmitt

Episode Description

Tom Schmitt is a seasoned executive renowned for his transformative leadership in the logistics and supply chain industry. As President, Chairman, and CEO of Forward Air Corporation, he propelled the company to new heights, steering a $2 billion premium expedited ground transportation firm listed on Nasdaq. With a focus on strategic growth and fostering a strong organizational culture, Tom left a lasting impact during his tenure from September 2018 to the present. Before Forward Air, he held influential positions at Schenker AG, where he achieved remarkable milestones in contract logistics. Beyond the logistics realm, Tom served as a Non-Executive Director at Ferguson plc and contributed to various board roles. Renowned for his global perspective and expertise in international expansion, Tom’s leadership has been recognized with prestigious awards. His diverse career, including roles at Purolator and FedEx Corporation, reflects his commitment to excellence and innovation. A published author and respected speaker, Tom’s strategic insights and civic engagement continue to shape industries and communities alike.


In this episode of eCom Logistics Podcast, Dan Coll and co-host Ninaad Acharya interview Tom Schmitt, a true legend in the logistics space. Tom shares his fascinating journey from Germany to leading some of the most recognizable companies in North America. He discusses the importance of values, confidence, and commitment in his upbringing and how they shaped his leadership style. Tom also emphasizes the significance of adding value, being clear in communication, and leaving a place better than you found it. He shares insights on the evolving principles of leadership and the importance of being adaptable and continuously learning. The episode concludes with Tom discussing the challenges faced by Forward Air, including the impact of COVID-19, a cyber attack, and an activist shareholder, and how the company overcame these obstacles.


[00:03:30] Tom Schmitt shares his immigration story from Germany to the US
[00:08:17] Tom’s management experience at BP and lessons learned
[00:15:06] The importance of embodying a culture and purpose in leadership.
[00:16:11] Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity.
[00:20:38] The value of not getting lost in multiple priorities and keeping the main thing.
[00:23:39] The question “What would have to be true?” to challenge assumptions and explore possibilities.
[00:37:40] Leadership failure due to putting an unqualified person in charge.
[00:40:05] Challenges faced during the Omni logistics situation and cyber attack.


[00:08:41] “Position power is not what you should be leaning on. You should be leaning on adding value.”
[00:18:17] “When you make commitments, you do everything possible to keep those commitments.”
[00:23:39] “You need to be compelling, not complete.”
[00:28:32] “Leave a place better than you found it.”

Find out more about Tom Schmitt in the link below:

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How to Reimagine the Future of Supply Chain
by Ninaad Acharya, Dan Coll and Shekar Natarajan
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