LEADERSHIP Conversations with the Captains of Industry
Thriving on Change, Growth, and Opportunity
Fresh out of grad school, Thad Bedard moved to the San Francisco Bay area hoping to become a professor of American literature. But teaching jobs were scarce. “To make ends meet, I started working as a warehouseman,” recalls Bedard. “I enjoyed the industry. The work challenged a lot of my preconceived notions about business.” He started working his way up through a series of supply chain positions. In 2008, Bedard joined APL Logistics, and in January 2022 he became president. We recently talked with Bedard about the evolution of his career, and what issues are getting most of his attention these days. IL: How did an experience early in your career help to shape you as a leader? I was managing a group of organized labor on the waterfront in Richmond, California. The prevailing guidance about managing those teams was to be harsh. I tried that persona, but it didn’t work. When I started treating them as human beings— talking about their concerns and how we could work together to accomplish what we had to get done so we could all go home at the end of the day—things started to improve. The lesson? A hard-boiled, take-no-prisoners management style doesn’t work. IL: Since you became president of APL Logistics, what have been your top priorities? We’ve been working hard to realize our corporate strategy, which is tied to our first maxim: to become the premier order management provider in the world. To that end, we’re doing a lot of work on our product management and operational strategy, getting all aligned toward that common vision. We’re also aligning our capital investment strategy, both for the physical movement of goods and in the technology arena. We also are rolling out the company’s first diversity and inclusion program. IL: What keeps your customers awake these days? Customers are focused on how to remain relevant and resilient. Aligned with that is their desire to make sense of all the different technology and service offerings, determine what to do with those choices, and still maintain some feeling that their logistics provider is neutral and has their best interests foremost in mind.
Thad Bedard President, APL Logistics
Whether he is at work or having coffee with his family on Sunday morning, Thad Bedard’s brain is constantly churning with ways to take a great company and make it even better.
by Merrill Douglas
10 Inbound Logistics • June 2022
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