The board of directors of Sasser Family Holdings elected Jeff Walsh, formerly the company’s COO, to be CEO effective February 15, 2017. Walsh will replace Fred Sasser, who is stepping down after 36 years as CEO. Sasser will remain executive chairman of the company.
“Jeff is an accomplished and knowledgeable industry leader who has helped to drive our U.S. business units to several years of strong growth,” said Toby Luther, independent director of Sasser’s board of directors. “We are absolutely confident that Jeff will further lead Sasser and its subsidiaries to steadily improving operational and financial performance.
“This transition is particularly significant, with Jeff being the first non-family member to be elected CEO in the company’s history. The board is especially grateful to Fred, under whose skillful, visionary leadership Sasser grew its market presence from a regional company to having a transportation and logistics footprint in the US and abroad. We are also pleased that Fred will continue as our executive chairman.”
“When I took over from my father in 1981, we were headed into a very deep cyclical downturn in the rail business,” Sasser said. “It was the biggest downturn since the Depression and remains the biggest we’ve seen. I came into a company that my father left with a strong financial base despite these conditions. At the time, all that [our company] had was Chicago Freight Car Leasing and one repair shop, Hoosier Railcar Company (now CF Rail Services). We looked to expand the business into leasing additional types of transportation and logistics equipment, and into expanding our railcar repair network. In 1998, we became international with the addition of CFCL Australia. Our most recent two pieces were a specialized truck rental business, Express 4X4 Truck Rental and offering ground support equipment through Xced Aviation Services.”
Walsh, a rail industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience, spent 15 years at GATX before joining Sasser in 2013. At GATX, Walsh was group executive of structured finance and, previously, general manager of rail structured finance, industrial equipment finance and marine. Prior to GATX, Walsh spent two years at GE Capital in the Genstar Container and GE Capital Rail Services business units.
During his tenure as COO at Sasser, Walsh led both the successful restructuring of CF Rail Services, and the realignment of Sasser’s IT department. Walsh was also instrumental in assembling the leadership teams for Express 4X4 Truck Rental and Xced Aviation.
“First and foremost, Jeff lives our culture every day and he brings exceptional industry experience and contacts to his new role,” said Fred Sasser. “Jeff has been pivotal to the continued success of Sasser and to strengthening the commitment of our business units to meeting and anticipating our customers’ needs. Over the course of nearly a year, the board was careful and intentional in deciding who our next CEO should be. I fully participated in the process and am really excited that Jeff is our new CEO.”
Walsh’s priorities as CEO include continuing to explore and create opportunities to further expand the company’s footprint, and increasing cross-functional collaboration while cultivating an engaged, socially responsible employee culture.
“I am honored and gratified to have earned the board’s confidence at a company with such a rich history and legacy,” Walsh said. “The opportunity to work alongside one of the great names in the rail industry and the perspective I’ve gained from helping to build the Sasser brand will be invaluable as I work to drive our strategic priorities to best serve our customers and stakeholders now and into the future.”
Sasser Family Holdings has subsidiary business units that include Chicago Freight Car Leasing, Union Leasing, CF Rail Services, CF Asia Pacific Group and NxGen Rail Services.
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