Bob Biesterfeld, left, stepped down as C.H. Robinson CEO. Scott Anderson, right, is interim CEO.  -  Photos: C.H. Robinson

Bob Biesterfeld, left, stepped down as C.H. Robinson CEO. Scott Anderson, right, is interim CEO.

Photos: C.H. Robinson

Truck brokerage giant C.H. Robinson Worldwide announced an interim chief executive officer after ousting President and CEO Bob Biesterfeld.

Scott Anderson, chair of the board of directors, has been appointed Interim CEO effective Jan. 1. Anderson was appointed to the C.H. Robinson board of directors in January 2012 and has been chair since 2020. The board has started a search for a new permanent CEO for the Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based company, one of the world’s largest logistics platforms.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Biesterfeld’s departure "was an involuntary termination by the company without cause,” according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Jan 3.

With Anderson’s appointment as interim CEO, Jodee Kozlak will become independent chair of the C.H. Robinson board. C.H. Robinson has also made changes to the membership of the Audit Committee and Governance Committee so that these committees remain composed solely of independent directors, and appointed Kermit Crawford the chair of the Governance Committee.

Biesterfeld was named CEO in early 2019 as part of a long-planned succession process, succeeding previous CEO John Wiehoff.

“On behalf of the board of directors, I thank Bob for his many important contributions over the past three years as CEO and his 24 years with C.H. Robinson,” said Anderson in a news release. “Since joining Robinson in 1999, Bob has played an important role in positioning C.H. Robinson for long-term success, most recently leading the company through a challenging period, which included COVID-19 and dealing with supply chain disruptions. We wish him all the best.”

Anderson said that “now is the right time for C.H. Robinson to accelerate our strategic initiatives, and the board is focused on identifying a CEO successor who can execute on the opportunities ahead for Robinson. I look forward to working closely with our talented employees to continue to improve our customer and carrier experience and scale our digital processes to foster sustainable growth.”

C.H. Robinson reported disappointing third-quarter results in early November. At the time, Biesterfield said in a news release that during the company’s second-quarter earnings call in late July, “I talked about a deceleration in demand that we expected to see in the second half of 2022 in three large verticals for freight, including weakness in the retail market and further slowing in the housing market. We’re now seeing those expectations play out, with slowing freight demand and price declines in the freight forwarding and surface transportation markets.”

He went on to say that the changes in market conditions to “more normalized rates, with fewer disruptions … are allowing us to take actions to structurally reduce our overall cost structure.” Those actions, he said, were expected to generate $175 million of gross cost savings on an annualized basis by the fourth quarter of 2023.

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