Forward Air names new CEO post Omni Logistics merger

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Updated Apr 24, 2024

Shawn Stewart has been named Forward Air Corporation's (CCJ Top 250, No. 34) chief executive officer and director of the board effective April 28, replacing Michael Hance, who has served as interim CEO. Hance stepped into the interim role last month following the departure of Tom Schmitt, who left the company less than a month after completing the acquisition of Omni Logistics – a deal that at first was met with internal controversy and later nearly spiked entirely. 

Hance will continue to serve as the company's chief legal officer and secretary.

“The board and our advisors conducted a thorough search and are confident Shawn is the right leader to drive Forward’s future success,” said Independent Chairman George Mayes. “He knows this industry inside and out and has demonstrated a track record of successfully delivering growth and operational excellence. We look forward to working with Shawn to inspire and lead our teams into the next phase of growth for the newly combined company. On behalf of the board, I want to thank Michael for his leadership during this period of transition.”

Stewart brings with him nearly three decades of logistics and transportation experience. During his tenure at CEVA Logistics, he held numerous leadership positions and most recently served as president and managing director of North America. In this role, Stewart spearheaded the growth and development of the region, overseeing a vast network of operations across the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean Islands and a team of more than 15,000 employees.

Prior to CEVA, Stewart served with the Navy, where he received the Navy Achievement Medal for exemplary service aboard the USS Inchon and USS Theodore Roosevelt.

With Forward Air, he will take over a category leader in the expedited LTL market formed via huge, and at times controversial, merger.

“Together, Forward and Omni have created an industry leader with a clear dedication to delivering world-class service to customers – a quality I share,” said Stewart. “I have been impressed by the resilience both teams have demonstrated in a challenging market and during a protracted transition period. I’m proud to take the baton from Michael and excited for the opportunity to work with these talented teams to achieve outstanding results.”

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Forward announced last August its plans to acquire Omni, but there was a tussle among stakeholders who claimed the move, originally billed as an acquisition, was a merger that required shareholder approval. The deal soon after nearly fell apart with Forward claiming Omni had not complied with certain obligations of the merger agreement, almost killing the deal. Forward announced the closing of the Omni Logistics transaction Jan. 25.