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John Sell Retires After 16 Years with TMC

on Wednesday, December 20, 2023 in Company News

After more than 16 years as a Regional Vice President of Business Development, John Sell is retiring from TMC. As he looks back on his time with the company, he says he feels lucky to have spent so much of his career at a company that is known not only for its great service and beautiful trucks, but also for its integrity, excellence, and honesty. “We’re the Cadillac of the flatbed industry,” he says.

Much of this commitment to excellence, John believes, comes straight from Harrold Annett, the late founder and CEO of TMC. “Harrold set up TMC to be a great company,” John says. “He wanted to make a company people could feel proud to come to work for—and he did." John says that TMC’s employee stock ownership program (ESOP) also sets it apart in the industry: “What a great program. I can’t think of other carriers that offer stock ownership. Harrold could have sold the company to outside investors, but he had worked too hard to do that. When I was younger, retirement—and the ESOP—wasn’t my top priority. But as you get older, you realize that what Harrold did for this company is unbelievable.”

At the heart of TMC’s success, John believes, is the quality of its drivers. “I used to tell all of our customers about our drivers and how they were trained. There’s nobody else who does it the way we do. We hire great drivers, and we train them to be the best on the road, and we put them in top-of-the-line trucks. Nobody else out there does that.” John also notes the large number of veterans who drive for TMC as a factor that sets it apart. “More than 35 percent of our drivers served in the military,” he says. “That really shows that we’re attracting the best folks who understand the importance of hard work and sacrifice. I can’t thank them enough for everything they do.”

From Football to Flatbed

After playing football in college and even getting signed to the Philadelphia Eagles for a two-year NFL contract, John spent the entirety of his career in trucking, particularly in business development. But the mindset that football instilled in him has stayed with him throughout his working life. “The best thing was when I would secure a new customer. It was like still playing football,” he laughs. “I’m such a competitor. When you can make a sales call and get the business, it’s like a win.”

John says his success was largely due to his mindset and his work ethic. “I was always the type to be up in my office at 7:30, and I’d still be working at 5:30. I always wanted to give it my best effort and work hard for the company. You have to be up and willing to sell your product and call your customer.”

But the relationships he built at the company have also been a major part of his success, and John says he has loved being part of the TMC team. “What TMC’s about is all of us working together, whatever department you’re in. I’ve worked with great folks in accounts receivable, accounts payable, credit, all the sales guys, the customer service reps, and all of our drivers. One of the things that makes this company so great is the relationships you gather over the years.” In particular, John says he enjoyed talking to new release drivers during their first days on the road. “I usually talked to guys who were from Pennsylvania, like me, or guys from Texas, where I was living. It was important to me to show them that there was someone, in addition to their fleet manager, who cared about what they were doing for the company and how important their jobs were.”

John says that his relationship with Lou Gartner, Executive Vice President of Business Development, played a major role in his success over the years. “I can’t say enough about Lou. He has brought so much to our organization,” John notes. “Lou made things great here. He was very influential in my success, and he made me a better person.”

John continues, “What makes you successful in football is doing the in-and-outs, doing the same drills over and over every day. Basically, that’s what we did with TMC. We had a regimen. We did the same things over and over to make us successful—there weren’t loopholes to steer you the wrong way. Lou brought that to the company. I’m going to miss him being such a good leader.” 

And the business development team is definitely going to miss John, says Lou Gartner. He brought on many customers who are still with the company, and he was a great asset to his team. “John has made a tremendous impact at TMC, especially on those of us on the business development team. He has been well respected by all his customers and has developed strong friendships with them throughout the years, with a positive, can-do attitude that helped contribute immensely to TMC’s success,” says Lou. “With his years of experience in the industry, he was a mentor to many here at TMC, and his perseverance through the challenges he faced over the years gave all of us a great example to follow. I’m going to miss him—not only because he has been a valued member of the business development team, but because I am proud to count him as a friend.”

Jason Spurlin—who used to be John’s customer service manager and transitioned to take over part of John’s territory on the business development team—says that John has made a difference in his life, both professionally and personally. He says, “John wanted to do right for the customer, as any salesman does, but he listened to any concerns we in customer service might have and tried to match those items with the business he was bringing on. John is witty, inspiring, and has the most positive attitude of anyone I have worked with, never letting any obstacles sway his next conversation.”

Jason especially noted the way that John helped him become successful on the business development team: “A year ago, John changed from my co-worker to my mentor, as I began the process of a positional change to follow in his footsteps on the business development team. From the start, his help has been amazing, and I will be forever grateful for having his guidance during this year of transition for both of us. While his days at TMC are ending, our friendship will continue, and I hope to get down to Florida see him soon. Enjoy your retirement my friend, and Fly, Eagles, Fly.”

Looking to the Future

In his retirement, John plans to spend time with his family and continue having a positive impact on those around him. He wants to stay active with fundraising for his alma mater’s football team, visit his grandchildren, go fishing and golfing, share the wisdom he has gained through the challenges he’s overcome in his life, and travel with his wife, Angie, a retired flight attendant.

But no matter where retirement takes him, John knows he’ll always carry the TMC spirit with him.

“I’m going to be on the road with my wife, and we’ll see TMC trucks on the road, and I know it’ll put a smile on my face,” John says. “I went out with the best asset-based carrier in the country, in my opinion. It’s like playing for a professional team that won the Super Bowl—that’s how I feel about TMC. Going out with the best leaves me in a great frame of mind."

Thank you, John, for your years of service at TMC! We will miss you, but we wish you the very best for your retirement.