Greg Gantt is president and CEO of Old Dominion Freight Line (OD). Gantt joined the company in 1994 as a regional vice president and was subsequently named senior vice president of operations, then executive vice president and chief operating officer. His operational focus has propelled Old Dominion to a multiyear performance of greater than 99 percent on-time delivery and a cargo claims ratio of 0.5 percent. Both are industry-leading benchmarks. Gantt earned a degree in health and physical education from Appalachian State University, where he was a member of the university's intercollegiate wrestling team. He remains a fan of NCAA wrestling as well as Major League Baseball. He recently spoke with DC Velocity Editorial Director David Maloney.
Q: Old Dominion has consistently ranked among the top LTL (less-than-truckload) carriers in the nation. To what do you attribute that success?
A: We have a unique culture at OD. We have the best and most committed team in the industry. Our people are committed to servicing our customers. All employees are bought in to provide exemplary service far above and beyond our competitors. We call it "Service 2.OD." In addition, our management team is tremendous; we are experienced, and all are on the same page, making a strong team. We have a strategy, and we execute on it daily. We believe we are far more disciplined than the carriers we compete with on a daily basis, which leads to our success.
Q: Your company motto is "Helping the World Keep Promises." As president and CEO, what does that mean to you?
A: Helping the World Keep Promises means we will help our customers keep their promises to their customers. Every shipment we handle is an opportunity to impress two customers (our customer and our customer's customer).
Q: Old Dominion was named to Forbes magazine's 2019 Best Employers List. What makes your company a desirable place to work?
A: We were recognized because of our culture, and our employees are the heart behind that. People come to work at OD and have the opportunity to create a life-long career. I am the perfect example of that. I came to OD in 1994 and served in a handful of positions throughout the company before being named CEO this past year. Inside OD, we refer to ourselves as the "OD Family," because we look out for each other, we have a mutual respect for one another, and we have a passion for the business and our mission to provide the best service to our customers. All of this makes OD a place where people want to work every day.
Q: What are some of the ways you attract and maintain talent?
A: One impactful way that OD attracts and retains talent is by word of mouth. We have a great reputation that we have built over our 85-year history. We provide on-the-job training programs to help and encourage our employees to grow and develop their careers, and we have a strong pay and benefits program. We've found that many of our employees previously worked for other carriers and heard about our culture, career offerings, and benefits, so they eagerly applied to work at OD.
Q: Old Dominion is involved in many charitable causes, including youth baseball. Why is that important to your company values?
A: We think it's essential to be a good corporate citizen. We have 235 service centers across the country, and our OD Family lives and works in all of these communities. As a company, we want to make each community a better place than when we first arrived. We love being able to give back and help others; it's part of the OD Family spirit that drives our culture and business. A few of the larger charities we work with are the United Way, American Red Cross, and Salvation Army. Giving back is who we are.
You mentioned youth baseball, and that brings to mind a fun example of our charity work. We're the Official Freight Carrier of Major League Baseball and a few years ago created a baseball-filled trailer to travel around the country, making stops at various MLB stadiums. This year, we removed the baseballs from the trailer and wanted to give them a second life. We donated more than 12,000 baseballs to "Pitch in for Baseball & Softball," an organization that gives boys and girls access to recreation and contributes to positive youth development by providing baseball and softball equipment to children around the world.
Q: You have personally been involved in collegiate wrestling. Are there lessons from the sport that translate to your leadership role at Old Dominion?
A: Yes, wrestling is a lot of hard work as is LTL trucking. In wrestling, you have to work hard every day, and you have to be consistent. There are no shortcuts. There are no quick fixes or gimmicks. Hard work and determination win every time. This directly relates to my philosophy as a leader and the way we operate at OD.
Q: Are there any new initiatives OD is undertaking that you wish to discuss?
A: OD has a strategic plan that is well documented that will help us continue to grow and gain market share. We are the premier LTL carrier that provides a premium service for a fair price. We're continuing to invest in our fuel-efficient fleet, 235 service centers with more openings and renovations coming in 2019, and most importantly, our people, with training and career development to help them succeed and provide better service to our customers. We also just announced a formal partnership with the American Red Cross as a member of its Disaster Responder Program, where we made an annual pledge of $250,000 to help the Red Cross prepare in advance of disasters to help meet the needs of people affected by disasters big and small.