US Xpress has seen its second significant executive departure in the past eight months.

In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Xpress (NYSE: USX) said that and chief commercial officer Jake Lawson “mutually decided to part ways”.

Movement follows December departure Variant President Cameron Ramsdell. However, Ramsdell has been “terminated,” according to the wording of the SEC Form 8-K that US Xpress filed in December. Lawson’s statement did not use that term and described his departure as mutual consent.

“Jake has been instrumental in growing our sales, customer service and revenue management teams during his tenure at US Xpress,” CEO Eric Fuller said in an SEC filing. “Jake’s input has been critical in developing the future structure of our commercial organization and will be essential in ensuring a smooth transition in the coming weeks.”

When Lawson came to US Xpress in February 2021, he wasn’t working for a trucking company. He held key positions in sales and product development at Whirlpool before joining Lowe’s in a key role in sales and marketing.

US Xpress has been struggling lately. While other companies performed significantly better during the strong trucking market in the four quarters between the second half of 2021 and the first half of 2022, US Xpress did not benefit much. Its adjusted operating ratio from Q3 2021 to Q4 2022 was 98.5%, 100.2%, 99.2% and 99.5%, respectively.

The option is this “startup in a company” is looking to capitalize on technology to create a business model that is very different from traditional cargo operations. However, some of the Variant’s metrics have fallen well short of forecasts – notably driver turnover, which was predicted to be a key area of ‚Äč‚Äčimprovement in the Variant plan. But turnover in the second quarter was 150%.

Shares of US Xpress traded at $2.86 as of 2:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. That’s about 70% below the 52-week high of $9.40 on Oct. 21, but up 32% from the 52-week low of $2.13 set on June 23.

No analysts signed up as participants in the company’s most recent earnings call (according to SeekingAlpha’s transcript), suggesting the trucking analyst community is skeptical of Variant’s plan. While analyst attendance on US Xpress’s previous calls has always been lower than that of other major truck and smaller truck carriers, there have always been a few interested in the Variant initiative, as well as the company’s overall performance.

US Xpress remains a significant force in the trucking sector. In the second quarter, its revenue was $553.7 million, which far exceeded that of Heartland Express (NASDAQ:HTLD)which grossed $187.8 million, and Marten (NASDAQ: MRTN ), with a profit of $329.5 million. Marten has hit multiple 52-week highs in recent weeks.

US Xpress is smaller than Werner (NASDAQ: WERN)which posted second-quarter revenue of $836.3 million.

Disclosure: FreightWaves founder and CEO Craig Fuller retains ownership of US Xpress stock through his family trust.

Other articles by John Kingston

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The TOP 500 FREIGHTWAVES The list of hired carriers includes USA Xpress (No. 13) and Heartland Express (No. 35).

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