Former Southwest Airlines Co.’s CFO Joins the Board of Daseke Inc.

Laura Wright, left, is the newest independent member to be elected to the board of directors of Daseke Inc. Wright is the retired chief financial officer of Southwest Airlines Co., serving in that position and as senior vice president of finance from 2004 through September 2012. She spent 25 years with the company. From left are Wright; Ron Gafford, Daseke independent board member and retired chief executive of Austin Industries; Scott Wheeler, Daseke executive vice president and corporate CFO; Don Daseke, founder, president and CEO of Daseke Inc.; Brian Bonner, independent Daseke board member and retired chief information officer of Texas Instruments; and Tom Hund, independent board member and retired executive vice president and chief financial officer of BNSF Railway.

Laura Wright, left, is the newest independent member to be elected to the board of directors of Daseke Inc. Wright is the retired chief financial officer of Southwest Airlines Co., serving in that position and as senior vice president of finance from 2004 through September 2012. She spent 25 years with the company. From left are Wright; Ron Gafford, Daseke independent board member and retired chief executive of Austin Industries; Scott Wheeler, Daseke executive vice president and corporate CFO; Don Daseke, founder, president and CEO of Daseke Inc.; Brian Bonner, independent Daseke board member and retired chief information officer of Texas Instruments; and Tom Hund, independent board member and retired executive vice president and chief financial officer of BNSF Railway.

ADDISON, Texas, Aug 6, 2015 – Daseke Inc., the largest owner of flatbed, open-deck and specialized trucking equipment in North America, has elected transportation-industry veteran Laura H. Wright to its board of directors.

Wright is the retired chief financial officer of Southwest Airlines Co., serving in that position and as senior vice president of finance from 2004 through September 2012. She spent 25 years with the company.

She is also the fourth independent director to be named to the Daseke board.
     
“We don’t want to just grow, we want to grow profitably. We don’t want to just be big, we want to be the carrier of choice for our people and our customers,” said Don Daseke, founder, chief executive and chairman. “To do that we need the insights of business leaders like Laura Wright who have dealt with the same issues we face as a growing company.”

During her time at Southwest, the former regional airline grew from $800 million in annual revenue to $17 billion. Daseke, meanwhile, was recently named by SJ Consulting Group and JOC.com as the fastest-growing large carrier on the 2015 Top 50 Trucking Companies list, based on 2014 revenue.
     
“I loved being part of that growth, so the opportunity at Daseke to be part of the journey was appealing,” she said.

Wright said she was also drawn by the parallels in corporate culture and operating philosophies between Southwest Airlines Co. and Daseke.

“I certainly could relate to the culture that is being built at Daseke,” she said. “It’s a family culture, with such a genuine care for the people. 

“In the airline industry, it’s such a customer-focused business,” she added. Southwest Airlines Co.’s strategy, as summarized in the mission statement, was to start with the employees, treating them well and with respect. When employees feel proud of the company, they want to stay. “If you do that, they’re going to treat customers well. The customers are going to come back. Then you get the financial rewards.”

With her background in business strategy, financial oversight, capital markets and customer service, Wright said, “I hope to bring a strong set of skills as an independent third party to Daseke.”

Brian Bonner, a Daseke board member and retired chief information officer of Texas Instruments, said Wright is “a very collaborative, intelligent contributor, who is a great listener. She’s able to give insightful suggestions and analyze complex information. Her experience at Southwest is something that’s transferable to some of the challenges we will face with Daseke as we grow.”

In addition to Wright and Bonner, Daseke recently added Tom Hund, retired executive vice president and chief financial officer of BNSF Railway, and Ron Gafford, retired chief executive of Austin Industries, to its board.

"I have known Laura for a long time. We were both CFOs at major Dallas-Fort Worth companies,” Hund said. “She is a person of great intelligence and integrity who is a consensus builder. She will be a great addition to the Daseke board."

Wright, a certified public accountant, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Texas. During her career at Southwest Airlines Co., she also served as the treasurer, director of corporate finance and director of corporate tax. Before joining Southwest Airlines Co., she served as a tax manager at Arthur Young & Company.

She currently serves as an independent trustee at Pebblebrook Hotel Trust and a director of CMS Energy Corp. and Consumers Energy Co., as well as TE Connectivity Ltd. Wright is a member of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants and National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD).

About Daseke Inc.:
Addison, Texas-based Daseke Inc. is a flatbed, open-deck and specialty trucking company serving 49 states, Canada and Mexico. Daseke Inc. comprises of Smokey Point Distributing, based in Arlington, Wash., (www.spdtrucking.com); the E.W. Wylie Corporation, based in West Fargo, N.D., (www.wylietrucking.com); J. Grady Randolph, based in Gaffney, S.C., (www.jgr-inc.com); Central Oregon Truck Company, based in Redmond, Ore., (www.centraloregontruck.com); Lone Star Transportation, based in Fort Worth, Texas, (www.lonestar-llc.com); the Boyd Companies including Boyd Bros. Transportation, based in Clayton, Ala., (www.boydbros.com); WTI Transport, based in Tuscaloosa, Ala., (www.wtitransport.com); Mid Seven Transportation, based in Des Moines, Iowa, (www.mid7.com); and Bulldog Hiway Express, based in Charleston, S.C. (www.bulldoghiway.com).

 

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