Bill Zollars, the YRC Worldwide chairman who built the company into the country’s largest industrial trucker and then had to rescue the business from the brink of failure, will retire as chairman, president and CEO once the carrier’s recovery plan is approved, YRC announced Tuesday.
"Upon the successful resolution of many of our recent business challenges, the time would be right for me to hand over the reins to new leadership," said Zollars.
His announced departure follows a new agreement with the Teamsters union on wage and pension concessions that industry analysts say give YRC a new lifeline into 2011. Some Teamsters members had demanded Zollars’ ouster in exchange for new concessions but YRC did not say he had resigned as a result of the new pact.
Zollars said he and the board of directors had agreed he will leave once the comprehensive recovery plan is finalized and a new CEO is named.
The company gave no timetable for a search for a replacement but said they would seek candidates inside and outside the organization.
Zollars, 62, has run YRC for more than a decade. He took over what was then called Yellow, after its main Yellow Freight less-than-truckload operation, and built it through acquisition into a $10 billion behemoth with more than 25 percent of the country’s LTL market.
But the attempt to integrate Yellow’s main competitor, Roadway, and the regional operations of US Freightways faltered taxed the company’s operations and the recession left YRC holding massive debt. YRC faced imminent demise at the end of 2009 before concessions from its Teamsters drivers and agreements with creditors staved off the threat.
"I am particularly proud of all we, as an organization, have accomplished over the past two years. We have faced unprecedented challenges and had to deal with the most difficult economic environment our industry has ever experienced,” Zollars said in a statement. “I am especially grateful to my team and the many stakeholders who partnered with us to put the company on an operationally and financially stable path to recovery.”
Zollars has faced criticism on Wall Street and in union circles for the way he has run YRC, but in recent years he has been perhaps the recognized face of the industry, often speaking on national television on the U.S. economy.
“Like it or not, here they are in 2010 and the company is still in business, and that is not an insignificant accomplishment,” said Mike Regan, president of TranzAct Technologies.