About Tippie

Past Winners

Oscar C. Schmidt Iowa Business Leadership Award

Mike Gerdin

2013 Winner

Mike Gerdin, Chairman and CEO of Heartland Express

Heartland Express

Today’s honoree, Heartland Express, was founded in 1978 by Russell A. Gerdin with 16 trucks and a staff of four. Today, this publicly traded company (NASDAQ: HTLD) is recognized around the country for its exceptional on-time service to its customers, its dedication to its drivers and employees, and the impact it has made in the communities where the company does business.

A leader in transportation and logistics, Heartland Express provides collaborative truckload transportation service that enables companies to deliver exceptional service across their transportation network to improve customer satisfaction. The company has become recognized as an industry leader both for on-time service to customers and its financial strength.

Since becoming a public company in the mid-1980s, Heartland has followed a three-tier strategy for growth, which includes (1) traditional market growth; (2) regional market growth; as well as (3) growth through acquisition. Heartland has successfully completed five acquisitions since 1987.

Companies choose Heartland Express for its award-winning, on-time pickup and delivery, fleet capacity to cover commitments scaled to their needs, leadership in providing information about their shipments, and its performance in moving beyond the transactional to the strategic relationship to solve problems.

This is witnessed by the company’s long list of awards and recognitions, which includes:

  • Transportation Logistics Managements Quest for Quality award (11 consecutive years), an industry award chosen by the shipping community.
  • FedEx Express Gold Award (5 consecutive years)
  • FedEx Smartpost Peak Performance Award (4 consecutive years)
  • FedEx Carrier of the Year Award (6 out of the last 7 years)
  • DuPont Outstanding Service Award (2 consecutive years)
  • Niagara Water East Region Carrier Partner of the Year
  • BP Driver's Safety Standards Award (6 out of the last 7 years)
  • United Sugars Carrier of the Year Award for 2013
  • Whirlpool Carrier of the Year Award for 2013
  • Sonoco Helping Hands of the Year Award for 2013
  • Walmart Transportation 2012 Sam's Carrier of the Year Award (2 consecutive years)
  • Eastman Chemical 2012 Supplier Excellence Award (17 consecutive years)
  • 2012 Winegard Company Truckload Carrier of the Year Award (2 consecutive years)
  • Unyson Logistics 2012 Carrier of the Year
  • Walmart Transportation 2012 General Merchandise Platinum Carrier of the Year (3 out of the last 4 years)
  • 2012 Lowe's Gold Carrier Award (2 consecutive years)

With an average experience level of more than nine years each, Heartland drivers are known for providing exceptional service to customers and maintaining the safest driving records in the trucking industry. The company is distinguished by operating a new fleet of well-maintained equipment, industry-leading driver pay, and outstanding federal Compliance-Safety-Accountability (CSA) scores, which led to its receipt of the SmartWay Excellence Award in 2012 for its commitment to safety.

Heartland Express brings together industry experience, state-of-the-art equipment and technology, and good people with a vision to be the best and to serve the truckload transportation needs of the top shippers in America.

Michael Gerdin, Chairman and CEO
Michael J. Gerdin started with Heartland Express in 1983 as a teenager washing trucks, sweeping floors, and working in the shop. Since that time, he has held a variety of positions throughout the company in operations, sales, safety, shop, and driver recruiting departments. Michael received his B.A. degree in business management from Luther College in 1992. He was elected to the Heartland Express Board of Directors in 1996, an appointment in which he still serves today. From 1998 to 2001, Michael was president of A&M Express of Kingsport, Tenn., a wholly owned subsidiary of Heartland Express. In 2001, he was appointed vice president of regional operations of Heartland Express. In May 2006, he was named president of Heartland Express. In September 2011, he was named CEO and chairman of the board.

Michael serves on the Board of Directors and the Executive Steering Committee for the Iowa Motor Truck Association as well as the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for the American Trucking Association. He serves on the Board of Visitors for the University of Iowa, the Tippie Advisory Board of the Tippie College of Business, the College of Business Advisory Council at Iowa State University, and the Board of Directors for West Bank.

In addition to his professional interests, Michael is an avid runner, having competed in 17 marathons, 3 half-Ironman competitions, and a complete Ironman in 2009. He is an avid outdoorsman, loving to hunt, fish, golf, and coach his sons. His favorite pastime is spending time with his wife Nicole and their four sons Clay, Grant, Nick, and Adam.

Russell Gerdin, Founder
The vision of what Heartland Express has become today was shaped by founder Russell Gerdin, though he always credited the success of the organization to the effort and caring of the drivers and those who supported them. He gave a lifetime of leadership to the trucking industry and his community. He was a true visionary and pioneer in the industry as well as a charitable and compassionate person.


About the Award

The Oscar C. Schmidt Iowa Business Leadership Award is presented by the Henry B. Tippie College of Business for two reasons. It allows the college to express its gratitude to the many individuals and organizations that have extended their friendship and support. It also recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding performance in the world of commerce in the belief that business leadership is essential to the economic progress of Iowa and the nation.