The CEO of global freight forwarder CEVA Logistics, John Pattullo, was a visible presence on the transportation scene last week. He sat on CEO panels at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Annual Global Conference and the concurrently run International Air Cargo Forum and Exposition. He also presided over a media breakfast at CSCMP that is fast becoming a tradition, albeit only in its third year.
Turns out it was Pattullo's swan song.
The Scottish-born veteran of the logistics wars at Procter & Gamble, DHL, and CEVA will retire effective on Friday, Dutch-based CEVA said today. Pattullo, 59, will be succeeded by Marvin O. Schlanger, CEVA's chairman. Pattullo will remain on CEVA's board, the company said.
CEVA, owned by affiliates of asset management company Apollo Global Management LLC, generated about $8.8 billion in revenue for the 2011 calendar year.
Pattullo became CEVA's CEO in August 2007 after spending two years running the old Exel's Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) division, and then heading contract logistics in the same region for the combined DHL and Exel operations after DHL acquired Exel.
In a statement, Schlanger said Pattullo had expected to stay at CEVA for only five years. However, during the CSCMP media breakfast in Atlanta on Oct.1, Pattullo did not come across as someone who was about to retire as he discussed with great enthusiasm CEVA's accomplishments and its future plans.
Perhaps Pattullo's two most enduring legacies were overseeing the integration of TNT Logistics and the former air freight forwarder EGL Inc.—the amalgam that became CEVA—and expanding the company's ocean freight business. At one point during his tenure, CEVA was ranked 35th in the world based on the volume of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled. However, following a milestone five-year deal announced in August with food giant H.J. Heinz Co., CEVA jumped to seventh.
CEVA said the Heinz deal marked the first time a shipper with annual volume of at least 60,000 TEUs turned over all its ocean freight management to one logistics provider.
The blunt-spoken Pattullo wasn't short of opinions at the two conferences. He said that Europe, where the company gets 45 percent of its revenue, is effectively a two-tiered continent with the Northern half doing fine and the southern region a monumental mess that could take as long as five years to clean up. He expected global growth to be muted for the next two to three years as sovereign governments around the world enter a period of deleveraging after taking on massive amounts of debt.
Pattullo also had strong words for what he called the "absence of a standard minimum threshold of operating" in the logistics industry. Saying there is no consistency in training processes, Pattullo called on the industry to focus on building a workforce of "logistics engineers" like the ones that exist in other fields such as electric power and chemicals.
In fact, CEVA Logistics has had such problems finding top talent that one-third of the company's senior executives during his tenure were recruited from its customers, Patullo said.