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About CRST

CRST International is one of the nation’s largest privately held transportation companies, providing comprehensive transportation and logistics solutions to customers all over North America. Every year, the company invests millions of dollars so that its customers benefit from having the best- trained drivers, the newest equipment, and the latest logistics technology. The company values the trust invested in it every day as it transports millions of dollars of goods across the nation.

CRST is debt-free, fiscally strong, focused on superior service, innovative, professionally managed and community focused. The company continues in a growth mode fueled by several acquisitions in recent years.

Company History

In 1955, Herald and Miriam Smith started Cedar Rapids Steel Transport out of a refurbished chicken coop they bought for $125. At the time, they had no trucks and no customers, but Herald, known as “Smitty,” convinced firms he could save them money. He contracted with owner/operators who were hauling livestock to Chicago to return to the Cedar Rapids area with loads of steel instead of empty trucks. For the next 25 years the company grew rapidly by acquiring struggling franchises and their corresponding load-hauling authority to increase its jurisdiction and capabilities.

In 1980, when the Interstate Commerce Commission deregulated trucking, CRST deftly adapted to the transforming industry. Using entrepreneurial and innovative thinking, CRST capitalized on the new opportunities and experienced explosive growth becoming the largest trucking company in the state of Iowa and increasing its gross revenue by 25 percent. CRST was only the third carrier in the history of the U.S. to receive nationwide operating authority and cracked the top 100 list of the nation’s largest carriers. By 1981, the company was ranked No. 86, and 1982, it was No. 61. Today, it is ranked No. 24.

In 1983, John Smith, Herald’s son, took over leadership of the company. John continued the company’s history of strategic acquisitions for growth. One of the most notable of CRST’s acquisitions was the purchase of Malone Freight Lines of Birmingham, Ala., in 1984. The once struggling flatbed company posted a profit after only one year under CRST and has become the backbone of the company’s flatbed offering. The purchase gave the company a stronger presence in the South and Southeastern U.S.

Also in 1984, CRST changed its name to CRST International to integrate all of its companies under one unified brand umbrella and signify that the company was also doing business outside U.S. borders.

In the mid-1980s CRST began focusing on implementing and perfecting the team driving approach. Team driving wasn’t new, but this was the first time CRST broadly applied it to the company’s advantage and as a solution to meeting changing customer needs for JIT (just in time) inventory management. Team driving allowed CRST to increase efficiency and maintain CRST’s competitive edge, as well as provide reliable service, rapid transit time and on-time deliveries. Today, CRST maintains the largest fleet of team drivers in the industry and is able to provide reliable, safe coast-to-coast transport in less than 60 hours.

CRST has always realized the significance of having an ample supply of qualified drivers. Traditionally, CRST had hired only experienced drivers. However, by the late 1980s, a driver shortage had started to emerge. The company began to focus intensely on recruiting new drivers to the industry, as well as experienced drivers. The company expanded its driver training program to include a week of classroom instruction and two weeks on the road experience. This expansion allowed for more hands-on training with an experienced driver trainer. Safety has always been of high importance to the company, and this investment in driver training has allowed CRST to not only maintain its fleet, but also reduce accident rates. The company has expanded its driver training program numerous times in recent years and is able to accommodate nearly 200 drivers per night in its Cedar Rapids, Iowa, training facility and 90 per night at its Riverside, Calif. driver training facility.

Company leadership changed hands again in 2010 when John Smith transitioned to Chairman of the Board and Dave Rusch assumed the position of CRST International President and CEO.

CRST further increased its capabilities in 2011 with the acquisition of Specialized Transportation, Inc. (STI) of Ft. Wayne, Ind. A leader in white glove, customized supply chain solutions for products requiring high-touch, on-site services or special handling and equipment, added capabilities and customers to CRST’s portfolio.

CRST acquired two additional companies in 2013. The Special Products Division of Allied Van Lines was purchased to complement CRST Specialized Transportation and created the most extensive network of specialized distribution centers in North America. BESL Transfer Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio, a leading short-haul, flatbed service provider, was acquired to complement CRST Malone, one of the nation’s largest providers of long haul, flatbed service.

In 2015, CRST acquired Pegasus Transportation, Inc., based in Louisville, KY. Pegasus is a leading provider of regional truckload services, with a focus on the high-security, temperature sensitive, health sciences sector and the critical, just-in-time automotive industry.

CRST acquired Gardner Trucking in 2016. Gardner is considered the largest truckload carrier based in California and a leading provider of specialized regional truckload services, logistics, drayage and warehouse services for bulk and commodity end-to-end markets.

Dave Rusch retired in 2018 and former CRST International COO Hugh Ekberg was named CRST International President and CEO.

Family owned to this day, CRST has evolved from a trucking firm to one of the nation’s leading providers of logistics and transportation solutions.

Operating companies

CRST International, Inc. is comprised of eight operating companies integrated to create complete transportation and supply chain solutions and provide deep industry expertise. From coast-to-coast runs to irregular routes, seasonal peak needs or “white glove” and temperature-sensitive loads, its eight companies work together to span the transportation industry and deliver a seamless customer experience.

CRST Expedited, Inc.

  • Largest dry van team carrier in the nation
  • More than 1,900 tractors and 4,000 trailers
  • 100 percent satellite equipped with online tracking capabilities
  • Specialize in secure, on-time and damage free deliveries
  • Coast-to-coast in less than 60 hours
  • Headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

CRST Malone, Inc.

  • A leader in flatbed freight management
  • The largest fleet of side kits in the nation
  • More than 1,350 flatbeds
  • Offers long haul, short haul, regional and dedicated services
  • Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.

CRST Specialized Transportation , Inc.

  • Industry leader in specialized supply chain solutions
  • Experts in white glove, customized supply chain solutions for products requiring high-touch, on-site services, special handling and equipment and visibility
  • Extensive network of agents and 52 distribution centers across the U.S. and Canada
  • Headquartered in Ft. Wayne, Ind.

CRST Logistics, Inc.

  • A full-service, third party logistics (3PL) provider
  • Offers brokerage services and customized or outsourced freight management
  • Single point of contact for a personalized approach • Expansive network of more than 30,000 carriers
  • Headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

CRST Dedicated Services, Inc.

  • Provides a full-range of services, from a totally dedicated fleet to a single-source transportation network
  • Experienced in complex private fleet conversions or simple, power-only scenarios
  • Offers fleet support in times of fluctuating needs • Headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

BESL Transfer Co.

  • Premier regional flatbed company
  • Specializes in hauling metal products, building construction products, machinery, over-dimensional and overweight freight
  • Fleet of flatbeds, drop decks, and specialized trailers can handle virtually any building commodity or machinery
  • Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio

Pegasus Transportation

  • Temperature-sensitive solutions
  • Just-in-time deliveries—always on time thanks to our team approach
  • A total logistical approach
  • Responsive customer service
  • Competitive pricing
  • Quality—ISO 9001:2008 Certified since 2001

Gardner Trucking

  • Truckload
  • Less-Than-Truckload (LTL)
  • Flatbed
  • Dedicated fleets
  • Refrigerated transportation
  • Port drayage transportation
  • Warehousing & Storage
  • Nationwide Brokerage and Logistics services

Management Bios

At the helm of CRST is a senior management team with more than 250 years of combined leadership experience.

John M. Smith
Chairman of the Board
CRST International, Inc.

John Smith began his career in the family business in 1971. Over the years, Smith held various roles in the organization, including his appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer in 1987 and most recently, Chairman of the Board in 2010.

Smith has been actively involved in the transportation industry, including appointments with the American Trucking Association, Inc. (Executive Committee and Secretary), Truckload Carriers Association (Executive Committee, Officer and President) and Iowa Motor Truck Association (Executive Committee and Past Chairman).

An active member of his community, Smith has held numerous roles, including, Chairman – Cornell College Board of Trustees, Board of Trustees – Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Board of Directors – U.S. Bank, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Chairman—Economic Planning and Redevelopment Corporation, Investor – Block by Block Flood Recovery Program, Past Chairman – Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Past President – Cedar Rapids Symphony, Past President – Cedar Rapids Symphony Foundation, Past Chairman – Young Presidents’ Organization – Iowa Chapter, Past Chairman – Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, Past Chairman – Red Cedar Chamber Music and Past Chairman – Priority One.

Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Cornell College and an MBA from Cornell University School of Business.

Hugh Ekberg
President and CEO
CRST International, Inc.

Hugh Ekberg was appointed President and CEO of CRST International in October 2018.
He joined CRST in 2016 as Group President/Chief Operating Officer of CRST’s western region of operating companies.

Ekberg brings over 25 years of strategic business leadership to the CRST family of companies. He last served as President – Kitchen & Bath Americas for Kohler Company. Prior to
Kohler he was Division President and a Board Member at Weitz Company, (a full service general construction and design build firm). Prior to Weitz, Ekberg was with Hirsh Industries (manufacturer of consumer and commercial storage products), in various progressive roles, including EVP of Operations, COO and President.

Ekberg holds a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management from Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and MBA in marketing and organizational design from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Ekberg is a Member of the Advisory Boards for Master of Product Design and Development Management Program and MMM Program at Northwestern University and an educational counselor for MIT.

Michael Gannon
CRST International, Inc.

Mike Gannon is Chief Operating Officer (COO) of CRST’s Fixed Asset companies. In this role, Gannon oversees the following CRST operating companies: CRST Expedited, CRST Dedicated, Pegasus Transportation and Gardner Trucking.

Gannon began his career at CRST International in 1983. He has held a variety of progressive leadership roles, including President of CRST Malone, President of CRST Expedited, Group President of CRST’s Fixed Asset Division, and most recently as Group President/COO of the eastern region operating companies.

Gannon holds a bachelor’s degree in Transportation Logistics from Iowa State University and an MBA from The University of Iowa.

Andrew Hadland
Group President
CRST International, Inc.

Andrew Hadland is Group President for CRST’s Asset Light companies and is responsible for: CRST Specialized Transportation, CRST Malone, CRST Logistics and BESL Transfer Company.

Hadland joined CRST in 2012, as President of CRST Specialized Transportation, Inc.

Prior to joining the CRST operating company, Hadland held several successive management roles with Exel, a contract logistics provider in the Americas. Prior to Exel, he was with Chase Manhattan Bank in New York and London.

Hadland graduated from City University in London with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Management and earned his MBA from Imperial College in London.

David Souza
CRST International, Inc.

David Souza was appointed Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of CRST International in 2016. Prior to joining CRST, Souza worked for CEVA Logistics holding successive management roles including CFO for the Americas and Senior Vice President of Internal Audit, with both domestic and international responsibilities. He started his career at KPMG. Souza holds both bachelors and masters of Accounting degrees from the University of Florida and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Jerry Kilgore
CRST International, Inc.

Jerry Kilgore was appointed Chief Information Officer (CIO) for CRST International in 2016.
He has overall responsibility for leading the strategy, vision, and execution of technology initiatives, operations, and people across the entire CRST footprint. Prior to this role Jerry was an executive in CRST Expedited with responsibility for Customer Service, Inside Sales and After Hours Operations.

Prior to CRST, Jerry worked for Rockwell Collins where he started as a Project Architect and Lead Systems Engineer and went on to hold roles of progressively increasing responsibility in program management leading a portfolio of military technology programs. Prior to Rockwell Collins, Jerry held roles with Northrop Grumman and Raytheon and was an Officer in the US Navy.

Jerry holds Bachelor and Master Degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of California San Diego.

Lisa Stephenson
Vice President and General Counsel
CRST International, Inc.

Lisa Stephenson is Vice President and General Counsel of CRST International, Inc. Lisa’s role is focused in the areas of transportation and logistics, employment and agency law, corporate transactional work, real estate matters, regulatory law, and mergers and acquisitions.

Prior to joining CRST, Stephenson was in private practice with Simmons Perrine Moyer Bergman. She also served as a federal law clerk in the Northern and Southern districts of Iowa. Lisa practiced primarily in employment and labor law, as well as commercial litigation.

Stephenson earned her bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude, with honors) from Mt. Mercy College in 1995 and graduated (with distinction) from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1998.

Brooke Willey
Vice President – Human Resources
CRST International, Inc.

Brooke Willey joined CRST International, Inc. in 2010 as Vice President of Human Resources. She is responsible for leading all Human Resource functions across the 8,000+ employee organization.

Prior to joining CRST, Willey held leadership roles in both operations and human resources at Yellowbook and Target Corporation.

A graduate of the University of Iowa with a degree in Communications, Willey is a member of SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) and Iowa Senior SHRM. She is actively involved with non-profit organizations in her community and has held board member roles for United Way and Young Parents Network

Cameron Holzer
CRST Expedited, Inc.

Cameron Holzer was appointed President of CRST Expedited, Inc. in 2011, where he oversees all facets of the organization. Holzer joined CRST in 2007, where he has held progressive management roles, including; Director of Operations for CRST Expedited, VP/GM for CRST Capacity Solutions and most recently Vice President Operations at Expedited. Prior to CRST Cameron held several successive management roles with CR England.

Holzer is a graduate of The University of Phoenix with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

Bill Clement
CRST Specialized Transportation, Inc.

Bill Clement was appointed President of CRST Specialized Transportation, Inc. (STI) in 2018, where he oversees all facets of the organization in North America.

Prior to joining this CRST operating company, which is a specialized, white-glove transportation provider, Clement held a series of senior management roles within CSX Transportation. The last decade of his career at CSX was spent overseeing Intermodal Operations, including a 400-unit, owner-operator trucking business, Intermodal Sales & Marketing, and most recently leading the $1.8 billion Intermodal Business Unit.

Clement holds a bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Jacksonville University, an MBA from the University of North Florida, and has completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School.

Chris Deschaine
CRST Malone, Inc.

Chris Deschaine was appointed President of CRST Malone, Inc. in 2018, where he oversees all operations and growth strategies for this CRST operating company that is a growing flatbed carrier serving the U.S. and Canada.

Prior to joining CRST, Deschaine was the Chief Operating Officer of Bennett International Logistics. He previously held leadership positions with Network FOB, PLS and Landstar Systems, Inc.

Deschaine studied Business Management at the University of Windsor.

Kimberly Maes
CRST Logistics, Inc.

Kimberly Maes joined CRST in 2017 as President of CRST Logistics, Inc. Prior to CRST, Maes was President of Swift Logistics. Prior to Swift, she was with Schneider National Inc, where she held several successive management roles.

Maes is a graduate of West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, majoring in Accounting and Finance.

Chad Brueck
VP/General Manager
Pegasus Transportation

Chad Brueck was appointed to VP/General Manager of Pegasus Transportation in
2018. Brueck began his career at CRST Expedited in 2003, where he held a multiple progressive leadership roles, including Vice President of Operations and Vice President of Customer Service.

Brueck is a graduate of The University of Iowa where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems and MBA.


Year Founded: 1955

Founders: Herald and Miriam Smith

International Headquarters: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Chairman of the Board: John Smith

President/CEO: Hugh Ekberg

Ownership: Privately-held by the Smith family

Employees Company drivers (6,300), Office Personnel (1,733) and Owner Operator Partners (2,200)

Distribution Centers in Network: 45 Annual Revenue: $1.7 billion (2017)

Operating Companies: 8; CRST Expedited, CRST Malone, CRST Specialized Transportation, CRST Logistics, CRST Dedicated Services, BESL Transfer Co., Pegasus Transportation, Inc. and Gardner Trucking

Driver Terminals: 16; Cedar Rapids, IA, Oklahoma City, OK., Riverside, CA, Albany, OR, Ontario, CA, Burleson, TX, Fresno, CA, Houston, TX, Manteca, CA, Olympia, WA, Tolleson, AZ, Louisville, KY, Laredo, TX, Morton, IL, Birmingham, AL and Carlisle, PA

Training Facilities: 8; Cedar Rapids, IA, Riverside, CA, Oklahoma City, OK, Birmingham, AL, Rockport, IN, Eldridge, IA, Fort Wayne, IN, Cincinnati, OH

Number of Million Mile, Accident-Free drivers: 245

Transportation Industry Rankings
No. 24 – Transport Topics Top 100 For Hire Carriers (2018)