September 19, 2023

Princeton TMX taps industry veteran Mark McEntire as CEO


TMS provider Princeton TMX announced recently it has hired industry veteran Mark McEntire as CEO, succeeding founder and CEO Tim Minnich.

Princeton TMX’s new CEO Mark McEntire (Photo: LinkedIn)

Minnich will continue to support McEntire as a board member, advising on the company’s growth strategy.

Pulling from his 35 years of experience, including time at JB Hunt Transport Inc., Penske Logistics, Transplace and Emerge, McEntire plans to continue to drive technology exploration in his new role.

In an interview with FreightWaves, McEntire discusses the culture he is walking into at Princeton TMX and how he plans to leverage customer-centric approaches to improve on the company’s existing technology solutions.

Questions and answers were edited for clarity and length.

FREIGHTWAVES: How has your experience at Princeton TMX been thus far, and what inspired you to embrace this new role?

MCENTIRE: I have been at some really great companies in the past, so I know what great looks like and I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity. To run a company someday has always been a career aspiration of mine.

Midsummer, I went to Fort Wayne, Indiana, and spent some time on the ground inside the four walls of Princeton TMX, and the culture felt great and the technology was really, really solid.

The founder [Tim Minnich] has done a great job of building the framework. You couple that with my experience and aspirations, along with the familiarity I have with The Stephens Group, [the private equity company that purchased Princeton TMX in 2022], and we have an impressive foundation to move forward with.

I recently had my introductory meeting with the entire organization, and I told them there were three areas I was going to really focus on. 

First, I want to really understand the customer base and what value they are extracting from their relationship with Princeton. My plan is to touch base with every customer in the first 90 days, and I am committed to doing that.

Secondly, I want to fully understand what our technology is capable of doing today and see where customers might believe there are gaps and how we go about closing those gaps. I will tell you, what I have seen and heard thus far is that it is incredibly solid, resilient and checks all the boxes for me.

Lastly, yet most important, is meeting and hearing from the people of Princeton. … Each person I meet, I have asked them all two questions. One is what do you love about working at Princeton and if you were me for a day and you had carte blanche to do whatever you wanted to do, what would you do?

I have been blown away by the answers so far, and what is pretty unique is everyone so far has said they love working here. When you get people that feel that way about each other, I think you can do incredibly good things in this space.

FREIGHTWAVES: Could you share your vision for Princeton’s future technology solutions and how you intend to harness them for growth?

MCENTIRE: In regards to expanding on the product, I would like to focus on the product’s multimodal solutions. Our customer base is predominantly steel, lumber and housing products, and a lot of heavy freight. So I would like to focus on ocean shipping, barge capacity and other modes outside of truckload.

I would also like to take a look at how we can utilize artificial intelligence to improve productivity. Those two areas are very much top of mind for me.

One thing I have seen a lot in my past and I have seen with Princeton shippers is many of them have a hard time getting the [IT] resources to adopt technology. What happens is the external partner, like Princeton, ends up taking on some of that heavy lifting for them, and I think that’s a real advantage and differentiator for us compared to others in the market today.

FREIGHTWAVES: Given the industries Princeton supports, how does the company intend to provide sustainability analytics for potential U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission emissions reporting requirements and support shippers in conveying this data to customers or the SEC?

MCENTIRE: This topic is becoming table stakes in the sales prospecting cycle. If you are not thinking about it, then prospects are pushing you out the door.

From a systems standpoint, optimization is really important to addressing emissions. Optimizing miles, equipment and capacity will help. We also have reporting built into our system that generates reports to show miles reduced, and that is incredibly important.

Over time, there have been examples in my career where we have supplied this information, and to your point, it has ended up in the annual reports of public companies. You feel very proud when your sustainability initiatives end up being a part of those reports. So we are definitely going to be focused on that here at Princeton too.

FREIGHTWAVES: Since Princeton TMX seems to be a very culturally driven technology company, what message might you have for current users who may be concerned about the change of leadership?

MCENTIRE: First of all, they have had a great founder and chief executive officer prior to me and I know for a fact he has a great relationship with all of them, so even I would be a little uneasy about the change. That is why it is so important to me to meet every single one of them in these first 90 days and why Tim is still on the team as a board member.

Also, if you have a chance to do it, go read our reviews. They are phenomenal and I want to lean on the customer’s voice as we continue to grow our offerings.

Right now I am in listen-and-learn mode, and that is how it is going to be for a while.

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The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

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