Sheridan Garrison Dead

Sheridan Garrison Dead

Copyright 2004, Traffic World, Inc.

F. S. "Sheridan" Garrison, the garrulous founder of American Freightways whose folksy demeanor masked an intense knowledge of the trucking industry and shrewd business acumen, died in an apparent drowning accident on a lake in his home state of Arkansas. He was 69.

Garrison parlayed his expertise into a $1.2 billion sale of American Freightways to FedEx Corp. four years ago. AF was rebranded along with Viking Freight as FedEx Freight, a $2 billion LTL unit of FedEx. He was retained by FedEx. as a member of its board of directors.

"Sheridan Garrison was an industry leader who turned American Freightways into one of the fastest-growing, independently owned transportation companies in the nation," said Frederick W. Smith, chairman, president and CEO of FedEx. "He was a respected member of the business community and made a valuable contribution to FedEx Corporation as a member of our board of directors," Smith added.

Garrison''s body was found May 20 in a private lake on property he owned in northeast Boone County, according to county Sheriff Danny Hickman. He was apparently fishing alone. Garrison had Parkinson''s disease.

Garrison was one of the first major industry figures to recognize the future of trucking lay in nonunion operations. Coming out of the unionized regulated environment required an entirely different mindset, Garrison realized, and the future belonged to those nimble enough to take advantage of fast-changing conditions.

In 2001, Forbes magazine named American Freightways one of America''s 400 best big companies, ranking it tops in the trucking category. Fortune named American Freightways as the third most admired trucking company in the United States, citing "tireless innovation, the ability to lure and retain the smartest people, and robust financials."

"It''s a sad day for all of us at FedEx Freight. We have lost a great leader, mentor and friend in Sheridan Garrison," said Patrick Reed, president and CEO of FedEx Freight in Harrison, Ark. "He will be missed not only by the associates at FedEx Freight but by his many friends in the community, the state and the industry."

Garrison was instrumental in industry affairs and was a particularly strong advocate for the Arkansas Trucking Association. That group learned of his death during its annual business meeting.

Following graduation from the University of Arkansas, Sheridan helped with his family''s newly founded business, Garrison Motor Freight. He served as director of operations from 1955 until 1966, when he was named president, a role he held at the time the company was sold in 1979.

Moving quickly after the trucking industry was deregulated in 1980, Garrison and a small group of friends and industry veterans founded Arkansas Freightways in Harrison in 1982. Later it was renamed American Freightways to reflect its national scope. It grew to be more than a $1 billion carrier by the time it was sold to FedEx Corp. in November 2000.

Lane Kidd, president of the Arkansas trucking group. said, "I don''t think Sheridan realized his legendary status in the industry. He was always there to provide advice. I''ll miss him."

He is survived by his brother Ben, friend Paula McLain and sons Daniel, Thomas and William and daughters Tami and Tonya.