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CEO Interview: Chris Lofgren of Shneider National

Let Down by the Feds Chris LofgrenPresident and CEO, Schneider National We’re concerned about the impact of increasing government activism …

Let Down by the Feds

Chris Lofgren
President and CEO, Schneider National

We’re concerned about the impact of increasing government activism in the transportation industry and the private sector in general. I would include in that the impact of health-care reform. We’re a big employer and self-insured [for health care], and we want to do the right thing for our associates.

We’ve been able to help our associates become good consumers of health care. That’s the answer. The second you push everyone into a system, as a company we’ll spend more—and our associates will receive less.

I’m also concerned about how the government is treating infrastructure. Surface transportation is really the power train of the physical economy and is a prerequisite to maintaining a high standard of living—and it’s Schneider’s lifeblood, of course. [But] last year’s [$832 billion federal stimulus] got misdirected. I don’t think we solved the real, systemic issue around infrastructure. We need to stop the redirection of highway trust funds to short-term agendas and make sure that these monies are spent specifically on highways—bike paths are not a transportation priority.

Going forward, there is not a lot of big capital investment by our customers, whether it’s building new stores or extending manufacturing capacity. They’re waiting to understand what kind of government regulation and tax situation we find ourselves in, and whether the consumer comes back. For 2011, I see modest growth in the economy, so our own investment in capital is pretty conservative too.

Schneider National, a $2.9 billion company based in Green Bay, Wis., is the nation’s largest privately owned truckloadcarrier.

About Dale Buss

Dale Buss
Dale Buss is a long-time contributor to Chief Executive, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and other top-flight business publications. He lives in Michigan.