Chief Executive Officer
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Industry: Transportation and Supply Chain Services
Michael McLary believes in keeping his office door open. It’s a key part of the people-first culture he’s worked hard to build as CEO at Ascend, a transportation company specializing in mid-supply chain, or middle-mile, delivery.
“I encourage an open-door policy that allows our people to express their thoughts and opinions respectfully,” McLary said. “I understand that leadership starts at the top. … By making people (our) priority, we create an environment where people feel trusted to move the company forward.”
Offering logistics and transportation operations focused on the South, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions of the U.S., Ascend has “density and capacity in regional areas where demand for high performance, short-haul shipping is high,” McLary said.
Prior to forming Ascend in 2019, McLary held logistics and trucking leadership positions at both Amazon and UPS. Under McLary’s leadership, Ascend has enjoyed an era of rapid growth. The company recently doubled its brokerage office in Nashville and expanded its international operations in India and Serbia. In 2022, it acquired ownership of two trucking carriers, one in South Carolina and another in Wisconsin.
“Over the past few years, Ascend has experienced record growth and made significant investments in its people and technology. We’ve also expanded our geographic presence in the U.S. and overseas, allowing us to better provide exceptional services to our growing customer base,” McLary said.
McLary attributes much of the company’s success to its commitment to top-notch customer service — and its dedication to supporting its drivers. “We relentlessly satisfy shippers through our responsiveness, transparency and professionalism and by providing a culture that rewards and retains excellent drivers and dedicated employees,” he said.
McLary’s leadership team focuses on developing core trust and teamwork across all company divisions and, in his words, “having fun while building our legacy.” “We also put our people first, ahead of financial results, and by following these simple values, our company has been able to outpace our competitors.”
While still a relatively new player within the logistics and transportation industry, Ascend has already built a respected reputation for its nimbleness, agility and exemplary customer service, McLary said. “Ascend is on the move. We are where we are as a company because of our outstanding people and their commitment to providing exceptional service to our customers every single day.”
Recently, with McLary’s leadership support, Ascend launched the “Give Back Challenge,” a new company-wide program encouraging employee participation in various community service initiatives. To date, the popular program has enabled Ascend staff to partner with corporate sponsors such as Kellogg’s, Home Depot and Procter & Gamble in support of flood relief efforts in Tennessee, water supply initiatives in Mississippi and community development mission work overseas.
The ability to interact with like-minded professionals while hearing how other Titans react to different situations has contributed to the value of being a Titan. These interactions are similar to what I experienced working with other CEOs in my Private Equity company's portfolio companies.