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DES MOINES, Iowa — Can a frontrunner working in a high-pressure job as an government for a billion-dollar trucking and logistics firm be a pleasant man — even humble — regardless of his unbelievable success?
The staff who work with Dan Van Alstine, president and chief working officer of Ruan Transportation Administration Programs, assume so.
Van Alstine, confirmed because the 78th chairman of American Trucking Associations on Oct. 25, is extensively recognized at his firm as a “servant chief” who places a concentrate on the skilled and private well-being of his staff.
New ATA Management
►Dan Van Alstine, president and COO of Ruan Transportation Administration Programs, Des Moines, Iowa, chairman
►Andrew Boyle, co-president of Boyle Transportation, Billerica, Mass., first vice chairman
►Darren Hawkins, CEO of YRC Worldwide Inc., Overland Park, Kansas, second vice chairman
►Dennis Dellinger, president and CEO of Cargo Transporters, Hickory, North Carolina, vice chairman
►Wes Davis, CFO of Large M Transportation, Blue Mountain, Mississippi, vice chairman
►John M. Smith, chairman of CRST Worldwide Holdings LLC, secretary
►John A. Smith, president and CEO of FedEx Floor, treasurer
“Dan very a lot desires to serve his group,” stated Chris Fish, Ruan’s senior vp of devoted contract transportation. “He desires to be an advocate for his group and is a staunch defender of his group. However to know Dan is to know he’s having enjoyable himself.”
“I’ve recognized Dan for 20-plus years, even previous to his arrival at Ruan,” stated Chad Willis, chief transformation officer at Ruan. “I think about him an amazing good friend and a implausible colleague. He’s invested in me each personally and professionally.” Willis calls Van Alstine “an inclusive chief. He values completely different views. He challenges.”
Ron Hanson, the corporate’s chief administrative officer, recollects taking a 45-minute stroll with Van Alstine alongside a community of skywalks that line downtown Des Moines throughout Dan’s interview course of. “It was very simple to attach with him,” Hanson stated. “And he’s nonetheless that man that I took a stroll with. We discuss huge points — severe issues. However we all the time discover methods to have enjoyable. Dan has an amazing humorousness.”
“Many corporations that focus solely on the underside line in the end don’t have a sustainable mannequin,” Van Alstine stated. “What I consider is you assist create a imaginative and prescient , empower the individuals, and concentrate on their well-being, maintain them accountable, and the result known as the underside line.”
Van Alstine is the brand new American Trucking Associations chairman. (John Sommers II for Transport Subjects)
Over the previous 4 a long time, Van Alstine has risen from evening shift responsibility with Schneider Nationwide to taking up as president of Ruan in 2014. Alongside the way in which, he logged government stints with quite a lot of trucking corporations.
Now, because the incoming ATA chairman, Van Alstine stated he plans to concentrate on points necessary to ATA whereas additionally taking time to inform Ruan’s story to truckers throughout the nation; it’s a novel story of placing individuals first, whereas respecting the values and traditions of the third-generation household enterprise that was based in 1932 by John Ruan.
Van Alstine stated his platform at ATA shall be “to be loud and constant concerning the virtues and the alternatives of this business. I owe it to ATA, and I owe it to its members. I lead with my coronary heart and can proceed to do this.”
“Dan is inspiring,” stated ATA President Chris Spear, who has labored with Van Alstine for a while. “He listens, asks questions and takes motion. He creates momentum by difficult individuals to present their best possible. It’s why Dan makes a distinction and ATA is most lucky to have him as our chairman.”
Since taking up his position at Ruan, Van Alstine has overseen important development of the corporate’s built-in provide chain options choices, together with devoted contract transportation, managed transportation, value-added warehousing, and brokerage assist providers. Ruan, which ranks No. 38 on the Transport Subjects Prime 100 checklist of the most important for-hire carriers in North America, has greater than 5,600 staff, 300 operations throughout the nation, 4,000 energy models and 10,000 trailers. Van Alstine stated the corporate’s income has now reached roughly $1.5 billion.
Just a few years in the past, Ruan received a extremely aggressive contract to be the unique service to ship spirits to nearly 2,000 distribution factors throughout Iowa. Ruan received the contract after beating out almost 80 bidders, stated Stephen Larson, administrator of the Iowa Alcoholic Drinks Division. Not solely did Ruan rating properly on the bid, however the firm obtained excessive marks within the company’s background checks for its integrity, customer support and reliability, Larson stated.
Van Alstine (middle) talks to staff on the Ankeny Terminal in Des Moines. (John Sommers II for Transport Subjects)
“Trucking is an business that may create alternative,” Van Alstine stated. “It’s arduous work. But it surely has many, many rewards.”
“Dan’s very considerate, and he’s strategic,” stated longtime good friend and former co-worker, Paul Herzog, chief monetary officer for Dubuque, Iowa-based Hirschbach Inc. “He undoubtedly will carry that to ATA. He has a real curiosity in leaving issues higher after he’s touched one thing.”
Herzog added, “You couldn’t discover a higher human being. This man would rip the shirt off his again and hand it to you in the event you wanted it.”
Herzog had such respect for Van Alstine that he advised his spouse, “If something occurs to me, that’s the man you go to for assist.”
“Too usually you see business leaders let the emotion of a second get to them,” stated Bob Elkins, senior vp of business vertical operations for Ruan. “Dan is rarely like that. Irrespective of how sizzling the firefight is perhaps, he’s degree, and he’s calm. And he has that impact on others as they’re working by means of no matter.
“If he have been to go away a corporation and go some place else, prospects and leaders would observe him regardless of the place he goes. He’s simply that participating.”
Hugh Ekberg, CEO of Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based CRST Transportation, stated that whereas he himself had run giant manufacturing corporations earlier than coming to CRST in 2016, he had no expertise in trucking. He and Van Alstine hit if off rapidly after first assembly at a trucking present in Germany, Ekberg stated.
”He turned for me a go-to useful resource as I continued to be taught the business,” Ekberg stated. “He made himself obtainable. He was very honest about reaching out. I took full benefit of his years of expertise within the business.
“I’m so appreciative that, at the same time as a competitor — CRST and Ruan are clearly rivals in the identical state — Dan has been in a position to put that to the facet as I’ve come to him and ask for his ideas and concepts. He by no means has any bother sharing his views.”
Eckberg calls Van Alstine “a person of human connections.”
“He’s a really sentimental man. He comes throughout because the fixed joker — he makes use of humor to rib individuals, that I do know, and does it fairly properly. However as a lot as he tries to cover it by means of his humor, he’s actually an individual who cares about individuals.”
Van Alstine talks to a Ruan driver on the Iowa Alcohol Beverage Division that’s serviced by the corporate. (John Sommers II for Transport Subjects)
Whereas learning at St. Norbert School, a top-ranked Catholic liberal arts faculty in northeast Wisconsin, Van Alstine, and good friend Phil Dougherty, began a university radio station. He additionally sang in a bunch known as the Swinging Knights. In 1981, he completed his Bachelor of Arts in communications, hoping to land an enormous public relations job.
“Lengthy story quick, in my head I anticipated to be in Chicago at a glassed workplace with an assistant asking me if I wanted espresso or a donut,” Van Alstine recalled. “The reality is, I might have been in some basement with no home windows, writing copy, and getting any individual else’s espresso.”
One place he didn’t see himself touchdown was in trucking.
“Frankly, to be 100% trustworthy, I used to be like some other automotive driver. I noticed vans as an annoyance on the highways,” he stated.
Whereas chasing the dream of changing into a big-time PR agent, Van Alstine had an opportunity assembly at a banquet with the late Don Schneider, then the CEO of truckload service Schneider Nationwide. After that assembly, he dismissed the concept of pursuing a possibility with Schneider.
However later, he reconsidered.
“Via divine intervention, or the knowledge of my father, I did pursue the job with Schneider,” Van Alstine stated. He took a job as an prolonged protection operations supervisor with Schneider, working a 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift.
“I replicate again on that point now, and I realized so very a lot. It was throughout that early a part of my profession the place trucking bought into my blood. The extent of satisfaction and pleasure that comes from fixing an issue, serving to somebody work by means of a difficulty is extremely rewarding,” Van Alstine stated. “However I don’t assume that at that time I acknowledged the holistic influence our business has on society.”
He does now.
Whereas at Schneider, he noticed completely different sides of trucking as he ascended the company ladder. “We handled prospects, drivers, authorities,” Van Alstine stated. “We handled all kinds of points. At the moment, you didn’t log on and remedy an issue, you needed to take care of somebody face-to-face or on the phone.”
He has present in Ruan an amazing match, in a tradition he finds fulfilling.
“We’ve created an setting the place we’ve management that acknowledges the significance, the criticality, of getting actually good individuals in roles they’re properly fitted to, provide the care and feeding that they want, present the assist, and the boldness that somebody’s bought their again,” he stated. “From that some highly effective stuff can occur.”
“I would like of us to take some dangers. I would like them to be considerate and calculating, and I need to ensure they get enter from quite a lot of sources.”
For him, even an opportunity encounter can present a possibility for that enter, “You don’t need to get on the elevator with me, as a result of I’m going to ask, ‘Did you make a distinction at the moment?’ ” he jokes. “They nearly all the time say sure. Then I’ll reply, I would like proof! It’s a terrific probability for affirmation for a group member.”
“He desires all people who’s working for him to proceed to develop,” stated Lance Cheney, vp of Midwest operations for Ruan. “Not solely as an expert within the business, but in addition as a person. He genuinely cares what’s occurring in your life, and what’s occurring with your loved ones. It’s greater than only a enterprise relationship.”
“Dan is aligned with Ruan’s guiding rules, which is individuals first,” stated Ruan CEO Ben McLean. “He’s an unbelievable people-first chief. He’s not a yeller, however we’ve excessive expectations for one another.”
“I don’t assume I’m a Sort A character,” Van Alstine stated, however acknowledged his days may be lengthy as his calendar is all the time full. He generally doesn’t make it house till night however burdened that he’s grateful for the assist of his spouse, Chris, as he balances his work and residential life.
McClean says Van Alstine is a “people-first chief.” (John Sommers II for Transport Subjects)
“She grew up with it. It is a group sport,” Van Alstine stated. “After we discuss group sport, it’s the household — the partner and the now-grown youngsters. What I really like doing most is being with our household.”
Brenda Neville, president of the Iowa Motor Truck Affiliation, stated that Van Alstine because the state affiliation’s chairman has skillfully led the group by means of the pandemic and created its lawsuit abuse legislative language through the previous two years.
“He was a uniter, even through the unsure occasions of the pandemic,” Neville stated. “He stated that he simply needed to get to know the affiliation’s members, and meet their wants. He’s an amazing man, a pure chief.”
To unwind, Van Alstine enjoys biking and taking part in pickleball, and through soccer season watching his beloved Inexperienced Bay Packers. On soccer Sundays he and Chris are both watching on tv or in-person on the group’s storied Lambeau Area, regardless of the seven-hour drive to the stadium.
The love for the Packers is a longtime household custom; Van Alstine’s father was a referee at Packer practices for about 30 years, and Chris’ grandfather performed for the Packers within the 20’s and 30’s.
Van Alstine enjoys most spending time along with his household and is extensively often called a household man — as witnessed by the numerous household images in his workplace. At house, he rises early to prepare for the brand new day’s challenges, Chris stated.
“He’s an avid reader,” she stated. “He wakes up within the morning and he’ll learn three newspapers earlier than he’s away from bed. He likes to learn, and he actually likes to be taught, and develop, and is all the time increasing himself.”
Van Alstine additionally has a eager curiosity in wine — “not essentially due to consuming it, however due to the historic understanding of the tales behind varied vineyards and wineries,” he stated. “I’m actually fascinated by that. I hope to pursue changing into a sommelier.” A sommelier is a wine steward, a educated and educated skilled, who should take programs and cross a number of ranges of exams, in the end being formally accredited by the Court docket of Grasp Sommeliers.
What the general public ought to expertise, Chris burdened, is Van Alstine’s singing voice, one thing he carried ahead from that faculty singing group.
Chris mentions a few of Van Alstine’s hobbies and pursuits. (John Sommers II for Transport Subjects)
“He has a wonderful singing voice,” she stated. “Ask him to sing ‘Danny Boy.’ ”
The truth is, she added to the lore that trucking wasn’t his meant touchdown spot. “When he was in faculty he was both going to be a soccer participant or singer,” she stated. “When he was in faculty to earn some extra cash he did TV commercials. He did voice overs on the radio. He’s fairly proficient.”
The expertise he now should carry to the desk is advancing ATA’s mission earlier than lawmakers and different stakeholders. Van Alstine stresses that he’s met with loads of politicians over his years within the business, and understands what it takes to reach these negotiations. “The truth is that is how enterprise occurs,” he stated. “That is how authorities occurs. You’ll be able to sit on the sidelines and you may complain and criticize, however you’re not going to get something executed. That’s the way in which the sport is performed. And I feel ATA has executed an exceptional job. They’re taking part in the sport, and taking part in it properly. For our agenda to get superior, we’re all going to must play that recreation.”
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