Kemp named ABF president, COO

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Arkansas Best Corp. has announced that Wesley B. Kemp will become president and chief operating officer of its largest subsidiary, ABF Freight System Inc., effective Aug. 1. Kemp will assume the duties from Robert A. Davidson, who will continue as president and chief executive officer of Fort Smith, Ark.-based Arkansas Best and as chief executive officer of ABF.

Kemp, 62, has held a variety of positions during his 39-year career with ABF and currently serves as senior vice president of operations, with responsibility for all areas of operational execution. He joined ABF as a management trainee in 1969 after graduating from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in management. From 1985 until 2006, Kemp was ABF’s vice president of terminal operations following his service as an ABF regional vice president of operations based in Bristol, Conn.

Kemp, who has completed the executive program at Northwestern University in advanced transportation/logistics management, currently serves on the boards of the Mack-Blackwell Transportation Center and the Supply Chain Management Research Center at the University of Arkansas.

“Wes Kemp has been an important contributor to the growth and development of our company for nearly 40 years,” Davidson says. “He has a firm understanding of the people-centered culture, customer focus and active ethics that have made ABF so successful. Beginning in the early ’80s, Wes was one of the first proponents of ABF’s Quality Process. Throughout the years, Wes has been a consistent advocate of the quality principles of doing things right the first time and working to identify and correct the root causes of errors in order to benefit our customers and our company. Wes has been a well-respected leader and mentor to many of ABF’s best-in-class employees.

“In addition, Wes has been an innovator and pioneer who is always open to exploring new technologies and opportunities for serving ABF’s customers in a cost-effective manner,” Davidson says. “He has overseen the adaptation and implementation of technology to customize ABF’s processes to the specific needs of our customers while providing unprecedented visibility and control throughout the supply chain. Recently, Wes and his operations team have been the architects of ABF’s regional freight initiative that will result in a radical reduction of transit times in over 30,000 station-to-station lanes. This will allow ABF to effectively compete and grow in the important regional transportation market while enhancing our best-in-class longhaul network.”

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Davidson says Arkansas Best currently is involved in a strategic review of available opportunities for future growth and potential diversification into other businesses in transportation, distribution and logistics. “Our corporate officers are actively considering a broad array of options to best leverage our core competencies, financial stability and strong balance sheet,” he says. “During this important time in our company’s history, Wes Kemp’s focused leadership of ABF will ensure that it remains the great enterprise and cornerstone of our corporation it has always been.”