There are many companies that offer commercial fleet services, but there is none as innovative, as customer focused and, frankly, as good as Aim Transportation Solutions. A huge part of Aim’s success is owed to one man’s game-changing technological prowess, big-picture vision and unwavering passion: Aim’s CIO and Vice President of Technology, John Reed.
John Reed recently celebrated his 30th anniversary at Aim, a feat that by itself speaks to his steadfast dedication to and enthusiasm for Aim and its mission. Since he came on board, Reed, and the remarkable team he’s assembled, has been setting the industry ablaze with technological innovation and envelope-pushing trends. For decades, he’s been a champion for Aim, his team members and the community where he lives and works.
Reed’s extraordinary journey with Aim began in 1993 when he answered a Youngstown newspaper job ad that was right up his alley. Aim needed a computer programmer, and, at the time, Reed had been in the transportation industry for about a decade. Prior to ’93, he worked for a small software company developing programs that paid owner-operators, billed loads, printed truck driver paperwork and tracked accounting.
Knowing now how important John Reed would become to Aim, finding someone with his ability and industry experience was like fate.
When Reed answered that newspaper ad, Aim looked very different than it does today. Back then, Aim had about a dozen locations and was just getting Aim Integrated Logistics, the top-ranked division that provides dedicated fleet services and freight brokerage, off the ground. Across those 12 sites were just 100 employees, and only five of those locations were connected to the company’s computer system.
“When I got my start at Aim, my role was just helping to implement [Aim’s founder and current Chairman & CEO] Tom Fleming’s vision,” Reed said. “He always said he wanted to be a technology company with trucks and use that as our competitive advantage, and to this day we still live by this model and strive to stay ahead of the competition.”
Reed has carried out Tom Fleming’s vision and more. Today Aim has 1,000 employees, and between Aim shops and Aim Integrated Logistics operations, Aim has about 100 locations across the country. Reed’s hand in Aim’s extraordinary growth and expansion over the last three decades cannot be overstated.
Moreover, John, along with his team, has earned Aim three CCJ Innovator Awards. One of those was earned as recently as this year for the Aim Navigator smartphone app and its state-of-the-art Road Rescue feature, which allows Aim customer drivers to request roadside service quickly and easily from the app. Better yet, it supports two-way communication in multiple languages, a truly revolutionary feature given the diversity of America’s current driver force.
The other two CCJ Innovator Awards came in 2010 and 2013. First was for Reed’s way-ahead-of-its-time Electronic Driver Vehicle Condition Report that streamlined pre- and post-trip inspections, which innumerable companies have adopted and still use to this day in one form or another. The other award was earned for a system Reed developed that tracked training effectiveness.
As mentioned up top, Aim isn’t the only company offering full-service truck leasing, commercial rentals, maintenance, dedicated contract carriage, freight brokerage, used truck sales and more. So why Aim? What has been the difference maker? Besides the amazing people who make the company the great employer and service provider it is, technology exclusive to Aim’s customers has elevated Aim into a league of its own—exactly what Tom Fleming had in mind.
That technology is exclusive to Aim customers because it’s developed and supported in-house by John Reed and his team of experts. Speaking to Aim's customer-first approach, much of what Reed and his team have developed over the decades has been a result of direct requests from customers.
“Back in 1993, I gave John the difficult challenge of transforming Aim into a truck leasing company that puts technology front and center in how we operate and serve our customers,” said Tom Fleming. “Every day since John started, he’s been turning those challenges into triumphs for Aim, our customers and employees, and today I consider us a technology company that operates and maintains trucks.”
“John took on what I tasked him with 30 years ago and has never stopped improving upon and advancing that mission,” Fleming continued. “He’s truly one of the pillars of our company, and his contributions to our collective success will never be forgotten and will always be respected and appreciated.”
John Reed (left) and Tom Fleming pose at the Youngstown Business Incubator's (YBI) 2023 Shark Tank event, where John, as YBI's Chairman, kicked off the event by addressing the large crowd in attendance, and Tom Fleming participated as one of the esteemed sharks who helped decide which entrepreneur would receive a $40,000 investment in their business.
While much of what Reed does happens behind the scenes, he also has a ton of involvement in customer relations. He routinely works firsthand creating customized solutions for many of Aim’s accounts. Additionally, he has deep involvement in acquisitions, company operations and logistics.
“I would say my biggest accomplishment at Aim is the team we’ve assembled in my department,” Reed said. “We truly have some of the best and brightest people, and everyone on the team is willing to jump in and help with whatever the task is—whether it’s writing a new system or helping another department move heavy boxes to the warehouse. My people never say, ‘That’s not my job,’ and I couldn’t be prouder of them for that.”
Speaking of Reed’s team, when he started during those early years of the company, Aim didn’t have anything near what it has today. In fact, John was the sole IT employee. Since, however, Reed, with his keen eye for talent and his long-term thinking, has assembled an all-star team of about 20 experts who handle the company’s technology, ranging from tech support and implementing new hardware to developing software and mobile apps to ensuring Aim has a stable and robust network to handle it all.
Before he began his career in the transportation industry, John Reed graduated Summa Cum Laude from Youngstown State University with a BSAS degree. Ten years after coming on board with Aim, he earned a promotion to vice president and then, of course, he would go on to be named Chief Information Officer.
Reed was also recently named the Youngstown Business Incubator’s (YBI) Chairman of the Board. The YBI is an amazing organization that helps accelerate emerging businesses by providing an array of invaluable services, facilities, equipment and resource networks. Their work is crucial to the revitalization of Youngstown and Northeast Ohio, something John Reed is devoted to.
“John is an incredible asset to the Youngstown Business Incubator and our community,” said Barb Ewing, YBI CEO. “He has a big-picture view of the value of new technology and how it can transform the economy. As chairman of the board, John applies the same skills that he's developed at Aim to helping build an innovation engine at YBI.”
Since joining the YBI’s board nearly 10 years ago, John has been incredibly active with the organization, participating in numerous committees, such as chairing the Strategic Planning Committee while also participating on the Client Development and Executive Committees.
In his free time, John enjoys family time with his partner, Ricki, and her two kids, Faith and Johnny. He also likes concert going, traveling, biking and, of course, working with the YBI.