Schneider touts higher 2008 revenues, suspends ’09 pay increases

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Schneider National today, Feb. 26, said it posted revenues of $3.7 billion in 2008, up from $3.4 billion in 2007. In addition to growing revenue, Schneider said it achieved its earnings plan in 2008, continuing the privately-held company’s 74-year track record of positive financial results.

That said, the freight transportation market environment has been, and will continue to be, in a deep recession, according to the company. “The transportation and logistics industry faced tremendous challenges in 2008 — from unprecedented fuel-price volatility to unusual weather dynamics to the continuing freight recession,” said John Brenholt, chief financial officer at Green Bay, Wis.-based Schneider National. “We were successful in light of all these challenges due to the commitment and creativity of our associates. Schneider associates continue to find ways to aggressively manage costs while focusing on operational excellence and improving service to our customers.”

In light of the good news — including the ability to pay down debt in 2008 and ending the year with one of the strongest balance sheets in company history — Schneider said it is not immune to the current state of the economy; freight volumes and rates continue to be soft in the early weeks of 2009.

“There’s no doubt that these market conditions are some of the most difficult we’ve seen in decades,” Brenholt said. “Carriers are exiting the industry due to the environment, and many competitors are reducing the size of their fleets and running fewer trucks. Schneider is responding to industry challenges in a different manner — we’re expanding our core services and making decisions to help control our destiny in what’s looking like a very difficult 2009.”

Schneider said this week it will implement further contingency plans designed to protect associates, customers and the company from the turbulent economy and to ensure its long-term success. Plans include suspending pay increases in 2009 for all associates and deferring funding for retirement plans and 401(k) company matches until yearend.

According to Tim Fliss, executive vice president of human resources for Schneider National, the contingency plan affects all of the company’s 21,000-plus management, administrative, driver, maintenance and distribution center associates. All adjustments will be reevaluated at yearend to determine appropriate actions moving forward, he said.

“We will continue to monitor conditions and take the steps necessary to protect our financial position,” Fliss said. “We cannot predict what the economy will do, but we will control what we can and encourage all associates to contribute ideas to reduce cost, eliminate waste and improve productivity. Together, we will be successful in ensuring a company that’s built to last.”