J.B. Hunt topic of new book by Waller, Thompson

by Jeff Della Rosa (JDellaRosa@nwabj.com) 1,696 views 

Matt Waller, dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, and Shelley Simpson, executive vice president, chief commercial officer and president of Highway Services for Lowell-based carrier J.B. Hunt Transport Services, recently spoke about managing change, inefficiencies in the supply chain and a book about how the carrier set itself apart from the transportation industry.

Waller and J.B. Hunt chairman Kirk Thompson recently wrote “Purple on the Inside” that goes to press June 1. The book is about strategy and change management, and it uses J.B. Hunt as an example, Waller said.

When freight demand evaporated in July 2006, Thompson looked to shift freight to the rails, disrupting the carrier’s legacy truckload segment, said Simpson, noting the carrier went through intermodal and brokerage changes concurrently. She also discussed the importance of consistency for the carrier and that the scoreboard didn’t always reflect the work the employees did.

Simpson, who’s worked for the company since 1994, highlighted a recent change, or disruptor, for the carrier has been the development of technology platform J.B. Hunt 360. The digital platform allows carriers to find freight to haul and for shippers to find a carrier to haul their freight.

This summer, J.B. Hunt will start to offer a new trailer pool and drop-and-hook service, and carriers will make offers to transport the trailers using J.B. Hunt 360. The new service, J.B. Hunt 360box, will allow shippers to reserve from a pool of 500 new 53-foot-long trailers, and it’s expected to improve efficiency in the supply chain by reducing driver wait times at docks because drivers can drop the trailer and move on to the next load instead of having to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

In 2017, the company announced a $500 million technology investment, including new freight matching features for J.B. Hunt 360.

“It really is reaching for a big vision, and for us, with J.B. Hunt 360, we want to create the most efficient transportation network in North America,” Simpson said. “When you think about how big that vision is, for us, we’re indifferent if we haul it or someone else hauls it. For us, it’s really about how do we create more efficiency in one of the most inefficient networks, really, anywhere.”

Of the 3.5 million drivers in the United States, one-third of the hours they have available to drive are wasted daily because of a lack of exchanged information and technology development, she said.

Waller also discussed how the business college changed its full-time MBA program. While some business colleges were moving to a one-year MBA program that’s completed online, the UA established a two-year program that’s completed face-to-face, he said. Most MBA programs have seen enrollment declines, but enrollment for the UA’s program is up more than 50% from the previous year.

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