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CRST The Transportation Solution, Inc. is one of the nation’s largest privately held transportation companies. Powered by the expertise of our Solutions centers, we provide a broad array of transportation and logistics solutions.


Our Roots

In 1955, Herald and Miriam Smith started Cedar Rapids Steel Transport out of a refurbished chicken coop they bought for $125.

At the time, they had no trucks and no customers, but Herald, known as “Smitty,” convinced firms he could save them money. He contracted with owner/operators who were hauling livestock to Chicago to return to the Cedar Rapids area with loads of steel instead of empty trucks. Family-owned to this day, CRST has evolved from a trucking firm to one of the nation’s leading providers of transportation solutions.

Cedar Rapids Steel Transport renamed as CRST.
CRST Acquires Malone Freight Lines, Inc.
Organizes CRST, Inc. to integrate all companies.
Identifies several niche acquisitions and merges the companies into - CRST, Inc., Three I Truck Line, Inc. & Malone Freight Lines, Inc.
CRST Launches Logistics Solutions.
CRST Establishes Dedicated Solutions.
CRST moves to #10 in the national ranking for largest dry van truckload carriers.
Revenue tops $600 million and CRST moves to new HQ in Cedar Rapids.
CRST Acquires Specialized Transportation, Inc.
CRST Acquires BESL.
CRST Acquires Pegasus Transportation , Inc. Celebrates 60 years and reaches $1.2 billion.
CRST Acquires Gardner Trucking, and moves into new corporate HQ.
CRST Acquires NAL Group.

Management Team

Our seasoned leadership team brings more the 250 years of collective experience to help you solve your greatest transportation needs.

John Smith began his career in the family business in 1971. Over the years, Smith held various roles in the organization, including his appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer in 1987 and most recently, Chairman of the Board in 2010.

Smith has been actively involved in the transportation industry, including appointments with the American Trucking Association, Inc. (Executive Committee and Secretary), Truckload Carriers Association (Executive Committee, Officer and President) and Iowa Motor Truck Association (Executive Committee and Past Chairman).

An active member of his community, Smith has held numerous roles, including, Chairman – Cornell College Board of Trustees, Board of Trustees – Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Board of Directors – U.S. Bank, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Chairman—Economic Planning and Redevelopment Corporation, Investor – Block by Block Flood Recovery Program, Past Chairman – Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Past President – Cedar Rapids Symphony, Past President – Cedar Rapids Symphony Foundation, Past Chairman – Young Presidents’ Organization – Iowa Chapter, Past Chairman – Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, Past Chairman – Red Cedar Chamber Music and Past Chairman – Priority One.
Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Cornell College and an MBA from Cornell University School of Business.

Hugh Ekberg was appointed President and CEO of CRST in October 2018. He joined CRST in 2016 as Group President/Chief Operating Officer of CRST’s western region of operating companies. Ekberg brings over 25 years of strategic business leadership to the CRST family of companies. He last served as President – Kitchen & Bath Americas for Kohler Company.

Prior to Kohler he was Division President and a Board Member at Weitz Company, (a full-service general construction and design build firm). Prior to Weitz, Ekberg was with Hirsh Industries (manufacturer of consumer and commercial storage products), in various progressive roles, including EVP of Operations, COO and President.

Ekberg holds a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management from Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and MBA in marketing and organizational design from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Ekberg is a Member of the Advisory Board for Master of Product Design and Development Management Program at Northwestern University, an educational counselor for MIT, an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University, a Policy Board Member for the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and a Campaign Cabinet Member for the United Way of East Central Iowa.

Mike Gannon is Chief Operating Officer (COO) for CRST. In this role, Gannon oversees the following CRST operating companies: CRST Expedited, CRST Dedicated, Pegasus Transportation and Gardner Trucking.

Gannon began his career at CRST in 1983. He has held a variety of progressive leadership roles, including President of CRST Malone, President of CRST Expedited, Group President of CRST’s Fixed Asset Division, and most recently as Group President/COO of the eastern region operating companies.

Gannon holds a bachelor’s degree in Transportation Logistics from Iowa State University and an MBA from The University of Iowa.

Brent Mohasci was appointed CFO in 2022 after joining CRST in early 2021 as Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis. Prior to joining CRST, Mohasci was at Collins Aerospace for 21 years where he held positions of increasing responsibility in Accounting, Financial Planning, Operations Finance and multiple business unit Controller roles.

Brent received his bachelor’s degree from Central College and his MBA from the University of Iowa.

Chad LaGrange is Chief Commercial Officer for CRST, a position he was appointed to in 2021. Prior to joining CRST, LaGrange was Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Business Development for Collins Aerospace, where he was responsible for global sales, marketing and new business development for the Avionics Business Unit. During his tenure he held positions of increasing responsibility in Commercial and Government Systems businesses, including Sr. Director of Sales for the Business and Regional Jet market, Sr. Director of Global Customer and Product Support and Sr. Director of Military Avionics and Helicopters. Prior to joining Collins, LaGrange was in the U.S. NAVY as an Airman.

LaGrange is a licensed FAA Airframe and Powerplant aircraft mechanic, holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in project management from DeVry University, and an executive MBA from Colorado Technical University.

Jerry Kilgore was appointed Vice President of Technology for CRST in 2016.  He has overall responsibility for leading the strategy, vision, and execution of technology initiatives, operations, and people across the entire CRST footprint.

Prior to this role Jerry was an executive in CRST Expedited with responsibility for Customer Service, Inside Sales and After Hours Operations.  Prior to CRST, Jerry worked for Rockwell Collins where he started as a Project Architect and Lead Systems Engineer and went on to hold roles of progressively increasing responsibility in program management leading a portfolio of military technology programs.  Prior to Rockwell Collins, Jerry held roles with Northrop Grumman and Raytheon and was an Officer in the US Navy.

Jerry holds Bachelor and Master Degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of California San Diego.

Lisa Stephenson is General Counsel of CRST, Inc. Lisa’s role is focused in the areas of transportation and logistics, employment and agency law, corporate transactional work, real estate matters, regulatory law, and mergers and acquisitions.

Prior to joining CRST, Stephenson was in private practice with Simmons Perrine Moyer Bergman. She also served as a federal law clerk in the Northern and Southern districts of Iowa. Lisa practiced primarily in employment and labor law, as well as commercial litigation.

Stephenson earned her bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude, with honors) from Mt. Mercy College in 1995 and graduated (with distinction) from the University Of Iowa College Of Law in 1998.

Brooke Willey joined CRST in 2010 as Vice President of Human Resources. She is responsible for leading all people functions across the enterprise.

Prior to joining CRST, Willey held leadership roles in both operations and human resources at Yellowbook and Target Corporation.

A graduate of The University of Iowa with a degree in Communications, Willey is a member of SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) and Iowa Senior SHRM. She is actively involved in the community, including board of director appointments at United Way and Young Parents Network.

Perry Moser was appointed Vice President of Driver Safety and Success in July 2021, where he oversees safety performance and driver success.  Perry’s responsibilities also include driver training and development programs—an area he knows well after serving as CRST Expedited Solutions VP of Training and Development and also VP of Operations.

During his time at CRST, Perry has provided leadership and proven committed to improving processes that ensure our drivers are successful.  Before joining CRST, Perry held executive-level positions at CEVA Logistics and New Penn Motor Express.

Perry earned his bachelor’s degree in geography from Old Dominion University.

Jenny Abernathy was appointed as Vice President of Enterprise Capacity Development in July, 2019, where she oversees the recruitment and driver placement strategies for CRST, ensuring that each division and fleet is capable of meeting customer needs. Prior to this, she served in several management and executive roles within CRST Expedited.

Abernathy began her career with Target Corporation, holding positions varying from Operational Strategy to District Team Leader, and handling operations totaling $500M in sales.

Abernathy received her Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from the University of Iowa.

Stuart Rosenlund was appointed as Senior Vice President of Sales for CRST, Inc. in May, 2019. He previously served as the SVP of Sales for the Expedited division, and he now facilitates profitable growth across the CRST Enterprise.

Rosenlund is a graduate of Weber State University, where he acquired a Bachelor’s of Science in Logistics Engineering.

Bill Clement was appointed President of CRST Specialized Transportation, Inc. in 2018, where he oversees all facets of the organization in North America.

Prior to joining this CRST operating company, which is a specialized, white-glove transportation provider, Clement held a series of senior management roles within CSX Transportation. The last decade of his career at CSX was spent overseeing Intermodal Operations, including a 400-unit, owner-operator trucking business, Intermodal Sales & Marketing, and most recently leading the $1.8 billion Intermodal Business Unit.

Clement holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Jacksonville University, an MBA from the University of North Florida, and has completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School.

Chris Deschaine joined CRST in 2018 with responsibility for flatbed solutions, overseeing all operations and growth strategies as a growing flatbed carrier serving the U.S. and Canada. In 2021 he assumed responsibility for Integrated Solutions, working closely with our asset divisions and agents to maximize capacity for the enterprise.

Prior to joining CRST, Deschaine was the COO of Bennett International Logistics. He previously held leadership positions with Network FOB, PLS and Landstar Systems, Inc. Deschaine studied Business Management at the University of Windsor.

Chad Brueck was appointed to President of Expedited Solutions in 2019. Brueck began his career at CRST in 2003, where he held multiple progressive leadership roles, including Vice President of Operations and Vice President of Customer Service.

Brueck is a graduate of The University of Iowa where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information Systems and MBA.

Chad Humphrey was appointed as President of CRST Dedicated Services, Inc. in 2017, and President of Pegasus Transportation in July, 2019. In 2020 he transitioned to the President of Dedicated Solutions East. Prior to this, he served as the Chief Operating Officer at Fort Transfer Co. Humphrey is a veteran Army Captain, serving in the Logistics Branch from 2003 – 2006.

Humphrey received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Iowa State University, and an MBA from Capella University.

Don Sandridge was appointed as President of Gardner Trucking in July, 2019, where he oversees every facet of the company. In 2020 he transitioned to the President of Dedicated Solutions West. Sandridge has been with Gardner since 2003, serving in various roles and watching the company grow into one of the largest transportation logistics operations in North America.

Sandridge is a graduate of Westmont College, where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Business.

Jason Steffens started with CRST in 2013 and was appointed as Vice President – Risk Management in 2020. Prior to CRST, Steffens was a practicing attorney for Simmons, Perrine, Moyer, Bergman, PLC. Steffens is a graduate of Wartburg College and the University of Iowa College of Law.

Tony Rose was appointed as Vice President of Operational Excellence and Continuous Improvement in 2020. Prior to CRST, Rose held several progressive leadership roles, including G.E., Rockwell-Collins and Crystal Group. Rose has his Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mt. Mercy University and his MBA from the University of Iowa.

We’re proud to be active members of our communities and industry