At its spring Supply Chain Forum, the Haslam College of Business recognized Gerry Niedert’s contributions to the field and the university with an honorary Global Supply Chain Institute Fellowship.
“Gerry is possibly the most holistic supporter we have,” said Chad Autry, head of the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management. “In addition to generous financial support, he has opened his businesses up to our students for tours and projects, helps collect research data and provides advice and support for our undergraduate curriculum. His contributions add great value to our programs.”
Mary Holcomb, who holds the research fellowship funded by Niedert, agrees that his partnership and presence have been indispensable to the program.
“Gerry does not delegate his involvement with our program,” Holcomb says. “He is ‘all in’ and makes a point of arranging his schedule to interact with the students. If one of my research studies is featured in a publication, Gerry is one of the first people to send me a note, and I often reach out to him for better understanding or broader perspective in terms of transportation trends and issues.”
Niedert graduated from Haslam in 1967 with a major in transportation, but he did not start out as a Vol. He first matriculated to Tri-State College in Angola, Indiana, the school recommended by the American Trucking Association at that time.
“In my second year at Tri-State I noticed some of my transportation textbooks were written by UT professors. So I researched UT and found the curriculum much broader, relating to all modes, not just trucking, assuring me of getting a more thorough transportation education.” Niedert said. “Also, as Tri-State was essentially a small engineering school with about 1,000 men and exactly two women the chances of meeting some sweet-talking, good-looking Southern girls in Tennessee helped me decide that transferring was the right choice.”
Niedert noted that he leaned on the academic argument to convince his father to agree to the transfer.
Niedert hails from a long line of transport and logistics professionals. Black Horse Carriers was one of several family businesses with roots going back to the 1880s, with management passing through three generations from1925 until the present.
He entered the family business in 1971, after 3 years in the Army, and within 15 years had helped expand the original business to more than 500 employees, six operating centers and a fleet of some 1,200 verhicles.
The original family business was sold in 1986, and resurrected in 1998, with Black Horse Carriers as the single surviving entity. Today Black Horse Carriers has $350 million in annual revenue, operates over 4,000 vehicles, and employs 2,500 people with 65 terminals in 22 states.
In December of 2015, Niedert finalized a long-planned management buyout of the company with 7 senior managers, enabling him to remain involved in the business while presenting a great opportunity for his managers to achieve their dreams. He considers the transition of the buyout one of his greatest achievements.
“We assured the preservation of essential employee, customer and supplier relationships we had built over many years,” Niedert said. “I feel confident that the company’s success will continue long into the future.”
Niedert is the third recipient of a Global Supply Chain Institute Fellowship. Kevin O’Marah of Supply Chain World and Ben Hazen of the Air Force Institute of Technology also have been honored