Werner Enterprises enters next phase of leadership

Werner rig on highway

Recapping the announcement of founder CL Werner’s decision to step down as executive chairman of the board effective May 31, transportation and logistics provider Werner Enterprises (NASDAQ: WERN) offered additional insight into the founder’s legacy.

Werner launched the company with one truck at the age of 19 in 1956, according to the press release. He sold that truck and purchased two more, a process he would repeat throughout his early career. Werner has often been referred to as a visionary. The trucking company was the first to implement paperless driver logs, the precursor to electronic logging devices (ELDs), in the mid-1990s.

Founder and Chairman CL Werner (Photo: Werner Enterprises)

“All I ever wanted to do was drive a truck,” said Werner. “As the first driver for our company, I know firsthand that professional drivers are, and have always been, the backbone of our country. America is witnessing that now more than ever. I’ve been proud to have created such a company.”

Today, the Omaha, Nebraska-based company is one of the five largest truckload (TL) carriers in the nation, with more than 7,800 tractors providing transportation and logistics service on six continents. Werner generated nearly $2.5 billion in revenue during 2019.

“But my intent was nothing more than being able to drive a truck, provide exceptional service, meet good people, and hope I could convince the best of them to come to work for me … and it worked. There comes a moment when you know it’s just time to move on. I’m in good health, and Werner has never been in a better position than it is today. So now is the time,” continued Werner.

Werner will finish his current term as chairman in May 2021, transitioning to chairman emeritus at that time.

In conjunction with the transition announcement, the company announced that CEO and President Derek Leathers has been appointed to the board as a member and vice chairman. Leathers joined the company in 1999 and was appointed CEO in 2016.

“I have the utmost confidence in Derek and his leadership team to continue to take Werner to the next level and beyond,” concluded Werner.

Vice Chairman, CEO and President Derek Leathers (Photo: Werner Enterprises)

Werner has recommended to the board that Leathers succeed him as chairman when his term ends.

“Never in my lifetime have I witnessed such foresight as CL has. He’s passionate about our company, our drivers, our associates, and life in general. There is no doubt he will stay committed to Werner’s success going forward. He put over 64 years of work into this company, and I appreciate the confidence he has in me and our leadership team going forward,” said Leathers.

Secondary offering

The original announcement stated that nearly 13 million shares of CL Werner’s common stock held in a revocable trust had been registered for sale in a public offering. In a Wednesday announcement, the company said those shares were priced for sale at $41 per share.

The offering price represents a roughly 8% discount to Tuesday’s closing price of $44.63, the date the offering was announced. Shares of WERN closed 2.8% lower during the trading session following the securities registration and declined a similar amount on Thursday, the trading session after the offering was priced.

The offering represents 12,845,930 shares with a 30-day, 10% over-allotment option. The company is not selling any shares and will not receive proceeds from the sale of Werner’s shares.

Morgan Stanley is the sole bookrunner on the transaction.

The offering is expected to close on Monday.

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