Donald (Don) J. Schneider, chairman emeritus and former president and CEO of Schneider National, Inc., died Jan. 13, 2012, in De Pere, Wis. He passed away with his family by his side following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 76.
“The transportation and logistics industry has lost one of its most passionate and influential voices,” said Governor Bill Graves, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations. “Don Schneider was a visionary, bringing business acumen and technology to blaze a trail and set the standard in the modern day development of our industry.”
Schneider started working for the family business while in high school in the early 1950s, first as a mechanic’s helper and then as a truck driver. He continued in this capacity while attending St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., in the late 1950s, using the job to fund his college education.
Schneider graduated from St. Norbert College with an undergraduate degree in business and married his wife, Patricia (Pat) O’Brien, in 1957. After serving a 13-month military tour of duty in Korea, Schneider returned to the United States and enrolled in graduate school at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Upon earning his master’s degree from Wharton, he returned to the Green Bay area in 1961 to join his father’s trucking company as a manager. He also taught finance at his alma mater, St. Norbert College, during this time. In 1976 Don officially became president of the then $82 million company. His father, Al, passed away in March of 1983.
Schneider led the organization bearing his family’s name for more than 25 years. Under his guidance Schneider National was the first in the industry to adopt satellite-based communications and positioning in its trucks. In 1993 Schneider founded Schneider Logistics as a wholly owned subsidiary of Schneider National.
Schneider retired from the day-to-day responsibilities in 2002, selecting then chief operating officer Chris Lofgren to succeed him as president and CEO. He continued on as chairman of the board for the privately held firm until 2007, when he reached the board’s mandatory retirement age.
Schneider is survived by his wife of 53 years, Pat, five children, 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.