Veteran executive Welch took charge of the $4.3 billion trucking operator today, after being named CEO by the company’s new board of directors Friday.
In his first 100 days as CEO, “I want to be out in front of as many employees as I can be. I want to be in front of as many customers as I can be,” Welch said.
“I’m at YRC Worldwide because I want to be, not because I have to be,” he told The Journal of Commerce in a phone interview from his office in Overland Park, Kan.
Welch must turnaround a trucking operator that lost more than $2.7 billion since 2006 by consolidating its long-haul subsidiaries and slashing its networks.
He led one of those subsidiaries, Yellow Transportation, serving as president from 2000 to 2007 and leaving before it was merged with Roadway to create YRC.
YRC Worldwide narrowly avoided bankruptcy in 2010 through a $470 million debt-for-equity swap and completed a $500 million financial restructuring Friday.
That restructuring gives it the liquidity it needs to survive 2011 and locks in favorable financing terms and Teamster union concessions through 2015.
The restructuring and those concessions creates the opportunity Welch needs to rebuild the company where he spent most of his working career.
“We’ve got some encouraging trends right now,” Welch said.
Both YRC Regional and YRC National reported an operating profit in the second quarter.
“The regional group is gaining traction at a nice rate,” said Welch. “YRC (National) is showing some improvement but we’ve really got to keep that momentum going.”
That means working closely with customers to “demonstrate our value,” Welch said. “We’ve got to get this company positioned to where it can compete effectively.”