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Dan Cushman wasted no time getting out his fishing pole.
Cushman, the CEO of PAM Transport Inc. in Tontitown since 2009, announced his retirement this week and left company headquarters for the last time late Friday morning. Company employees lined the parking lot to give Cushman a surprise send-off.
“That just punched my heart,” said Cushman, who will serve as a consultant through July. “Hoo. I can’t believe they did that.”
The company announced that Chairman of the Board Matthew T. Moroun will assume the CEO duties on an interim basis until a new CEO is named. A special committee of board members, along with the firm HR-1 Corp., will handle the search for a new CEO.
Cushman, who turned 65 in January, said he had decided to retire when his latest three-year contract ran out this year. He told Moroun, who controls 68% of the company stock, and Moroun asked him to stay until he was 65.
“It’s time to relax,” said Cushman; when he was reached by Arkansas Business he was fishing. “It has been a 40-year journey. I bleed PAM.”
PAM reported income of $7.9 million in fiscal 2019, down from $24 million in 2020, a decrease affected by turbulence in the automobile industry, which makes up nearly half of PAM’s business. Fiscal 2020 started slowly, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as PAM reported a first-quarter loss of income of $1.3 million.
“It was important to me to get through this crisis,” Cushman said, referring to the pandemic. “I know it’s not over yet, but I think the company is in a great position.”
In a statement released by the company, Moroun said Cushman’s “vision, character and commitment have been a driving force in the period of strong growth and profitability PAM has achieved over the past decade, including three of the last five years being the most profitable in the company’s history.”
Cushman said his retirement wasn’t due to his diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy, a nerve disorder that causes weakness and numbness in his hands and his feet. Cushman joked that he only mentions his neuropathy when he hits a bad shot on the golf course or loses a fish.
The planned aspect of Cushman’s retirement was apparent with his 2017 contract. According to a proxy statement filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, PAM agreed to pay Cushman his base salary for three months, and he would receive any deferred bonuses that had yet to be paid. The company also waived the three-month notice retirement announcements usually require.
Cushman was the chairman of the Arkansas Trucking Association Board of Directors.
“Dan’s voice had become a confident and comforting one to the trucking community in Arkansas,” said ATA President Shannon Newton. “He recognized the power of association and strived to leverage it and make it available for everyone in the industry. Our organization is stronger because of his leadership.”
When the automobile industry stopped production in the first quarter because of the pandemic, Cushman said he reached out to his competitors in the trucking industry to help find his drivers work and to also help keep goods moving. Many of those same competitors reached out to him when he announced his retirement.
“I really tried hard in this business to be more of a friend than a foe,” Cushman said. “The last couple of days, I have had so many people in the industry reach out and give me their well wishes. It makes you feel like you did it right.”