Ryder’s senior vice president and general manager of Supply Chain Solution (SCS) is retiring this week after approximately 25 years with the company and 35 years in the logistics industry, much of it focused on the automotive supply chain. He was most recently responsible for leading Ryder’s automotive, retail, hi-tech and industrial service sectors.

He will be replaced by Tom Pettit who joins the company from Pentair, a supplier of water/fluids, thermal management and equipment protection, where he was vice-president of global operations and supply chain for the past five years. He has had an 18-year career in operations and supply chain management.

Jones joined Ryder in 1988, and by 1991 he had moved into the automotive division with responsibility for just-in-time operations for Chrysler. With the growth of automotive supply chain services, Jones would become vice-president and general manager with responsibility for accounts including DaimlerChrysler, Ford and Toyota. Later he would take over responsibility for the operations and development of the SCS segment for automotive, aerospace and transport management, which includes Ryder SCS’s most important contract as lead logistics provider for General Motors in the US.

Jones has led Ryder SCS’s automotive and industrial offerings through a period of tremendous change over the past decade. With the emergence of growing markets in China, India, South America and Eastern Europe, Ryder expanded its services with the aim of being a global provider. However, following the financial crisis that hit the global economy in 2008, and sent the automotive industry in particular into the doldrums, Ryder discontinued much of its SCS services in South America and in Europe, with a view towards focusing on its business in North America and in China.

During an interview in 2010, Jones told Automotive Logistics that this strategy would be one that would help Ryder to perform better in its core segments and regions. “We’ve found it best to focus on the areas where you have the most strength,” Jones said. “There are very few, if even one, truly global logistics players. A more reasonable strategy is to divide the globe up into several regions and serve core markets.”
While it was a strategy that might have gone against the trend of third party providers aspiring to be a ‘global one stop shop’, the move appears to have allowed Ryder SCS to gain profitably from the recovery in the US, notably in the automotive industry, as well as to take advantage of growth in Mexico. It’s a recovery that started to benefit the company in 2010 and by the third quarter of 2012, the SCS division’s pre-tax earnings were up 2% on the year prior to $31.9m, thanks mainly to higher volumes and new business in the automotive sector. It’s profit margins were a healthy 6.6%.

Ryder will release its 2012 4th quarter earnings tomorrow.

Along with helping to establish Ryder as one of the strongest 3PLs for automotive in North America, Jones has had a visible and popular presence within the industry. Since 2000, he has been a prominent speaker and participant at the Automotive Logistics Global series of conferences held in Detroit, including his presentation of the annual Ryder survey at the event (http://www.automotivelogisticsglobal.com).

Also this past autumn, he was a speaker at a student supply chain competition, held by Wayne State University in Detroit, which was sponsored by Ryder along with GM, Delphi and others. “There is a lot of opportunity for supply chain graduates to be in development positions,” he told students. “These companies are seeking younger people with fresh ideas.”

Besides being a keen spokesperson for Ryder and the industry, Jones was a long time source of knowledge and expertise to Automotive Logistics magazines and conferences. We are grateful to call him a colleague and a friend, and wish him very well in his retirement.