First in flight thanks to the Wright brothers’ successful takeoff in 1903, North Carolina has a rich history in aviation. Transportation remains influential today with one of the nation’s busiest airports, a big aviation-maintenance industry, fast-growing shipper Old Dominion Freight Line and successful entrepreneurial companies.
The Lehigh University engineering graduate, 55, joined the airport in 2008 and succeeded longtime director Ted Johnson a year later. He’s helped lure star tenants such as Honda Aircraft and pushed runway expansions.
First job: Consulting engineer
Best advice: “Failure builds character.”
Person you admire: My dad
Proud family accomplishment: My kids, who are growing up to be successful, smart young adults
Favorite recent book: The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Something surprising: I’m the youngest of six. My brother was 21 and flying F-4s in Vietnam when I was a baby.
After seven years as executive vice president at Irvine, Calif.-based Ingram Micro, he was named in October 2020 to oversee the N.C. logistics company’s two main branches, Transportation Insight and Nolan Transportation Group. He’s a graduate of Kansas State University and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Transportation Insight has annual revenue of nearly $3 billion.
Clark was named chief operating officer of North Carolina’s ports in 2017, became deputy executive director two years later, and, earlier this year, succeeded Paul Cozza in the top job. He is a U.S. Merchant Marine Academy graduate who previously
worked at ports in New Jersey and Alabama.
HAECO Americas, with 2,100 employees, has helped make the Triad the state’s aviation maintenance center. Collins was named president in 2018 after working for American Airlines, The Bristow Group, GE and others. He has a bachelor’s degree from Rochester Institute of Technology.
With 350 trucks, 1,200 trailers and 500 employees, Cox, 50, leads one of the state’s largest shippers. He joined Best in 1994 and became president in 2016. He earned an industrial relations degree from UNC Chapel Hill.
First job: Working in tobacco
Best advice: “Remember, It’s all about the people.” (our chairman, David Reich)
Proud family accomplishment: Our two daughters, Elizabeth, 21, and Cooper, 11, who have strong faith and values and excel in academics and sports
Favorite recent book: Start With Why by Simon Sinek
Favorite music: Modern country and classic rock
Fox, 57, is a lawyer at Tuggle Duggins who also leads the 20-member board that helps set transportation policy. The Appalachian State University graduate has a UNC Chapel Hill law degree.
First job: Working at a gas station
North Carolina’s challenge: Making real investments in infrastructure, health care and educational systems and eliminating the digital divide
Best advice: “Don’t borrow trouble.” (my grandfather, referring to worrying)
Favorite passions: Hiking, camping, hunting, fishing
Something surprising: I’ve met every president from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama.
The Appalachian State University graduate joined the trucking company in 1994 and became CEO in 2018. He is the first person outside the Congdon family to lead the company, which started in 1934. Old Dominion’s stock surged more than 400% over the past five years. It was the eighth-largest U.S. trucking company in 2020 with $4 billion in revenue, according to Transport Topics.
The former Air Force pilot, 43, sold HondaJets for Honda Aircraft, then started his business in 2018 to lease the $5 million jets to fractional owners. He has an MBA from the University of South Carolina.
First job: Sam Goody
Proud family accomplishment: My wife and daughters are my “why” for everything
Favorite passion: Investing in people. Michelangelo believed there is a beautiful statue inside every block of marble; you just have to chip away the excess. The same is true for people.
People you admire: My parents are wonderfully and perfectly imperfect.
The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University master’s graduate, 54, took the helm in 2011 after heading Chattanooga’s airport. Because of the pandemic, the airport authority postponed $97 million in construction.
Employer’s distinction: The passion my colleagues show for serving their community
Best advice: A U.S. Air Force fighter pilot told my college Reserve Officers’ Training Corps group that pilots always take two bags: a flight bag with training and education and a second brown paper grocery bag. In an emergency, you should find the answers in your flight bag. If you are not prepared, then open the second bag. It’s your luck bag. You never know if it’s your lucky day. Work hard so you don’t rely on luck.
Favorite recent book: The Millionaire Next Door. It caused my wife and me to ask, “Do we really need all this stuff?”
Lopez Massas oversees a hub that saw a 46% decline in traffic in 2020 because of the pandemic. He moved to Charlotte last July after having a similar post at American’s Fort Worth hub. He is a graduate of the Universidad de Puerto Rico.
The Virginia Tech University graduate started as an operations manager in 1995 at the company, which Penske Logistics bought in 2018. He became chief operating officer in 2019 and succeeded retiring Richard Kuehn as president in March. The company operates more than 1,500 trucks.
Having earned an MBA from the University of Arkansas, Thompson in 2000 created a third-party logistics company to mate carriers and shippers, cut costs, and expedite billing and auditing. The business now has nearly $3 billion in annual revenue, operations centers in Charlotte; Bentonville, Ark.; and Atlanta, and more than 40 client support offices.
Employer’s distinction: We genuinely try to help our associates to be healthy, have balance in life, enjoy what they do, and like each other.
Proud family accomplishment: Their generosity and concern for others
Person you admire: I once met Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, in Monticello, Ark. He wanted to help Americans by letting their dollar go further and have a better life. He cared about his associates and probably made more American millionaires than anyone. He didn’t care that he was the richest man in the world; he wanted to leave the world a better place.
The former CSX ports director in Jacksonville, Fla., 53, succeeded Scott Saylor as president last year. He has a master’s degree from the University of Washington.
First job: Delivering newspapers
Employer’s distinction: We’re a private company that delivers considerable public benefits.
Best advice: Never try to grab the last nickels and pennies in a deal. Treat people the way you’d want to be treated.
Person you admire: My wife, who I’ve known since I was a starving graduate student
Proud family accomplishment: My daughter is a brilliant visual artist. My son is a highly competitive cyclist who excels at math and science.