What is Servant Leadership?

Welcome to 2019; I am looking forward to this year with optimism, enthusiasm and a belief that individually and for our Company, we have it within ourselves for this year to be our best ever.

As a first order of business in this new year, it is my pleasure to welcome to the Kentucky Trailer family our newest addition, CEI Pacer.  Pacer represents an established and leading specialty trailer manufacturer, providing animal feed transport trailers to large integrated poultry farms such as Tyson and Perdue, contract haulers such as JB Hunt and large cooperatives and individual farms all across North America as well as exporting to a number of international markets.  Joining us are 112 high quality Pacer Associates who primarily work at their plant and home office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Pacer’s leadership team of Dan McDowell, Jim Stoelk and Jim Ross will be continuing in their roles as shareholders in Pacer and our Managing Partners in Engineering and Administration, Operations and Sales & Marketing, respectively. 

When visiting Pacer and our new Associates in December, as part of introducing Kentucky Trailer, we started with a discussion about the priority of Safety at Kentucky Trailer and its place as our first     priority, and without a close second.  This discussion point was followed by reviewing our Mission and Values which center on our aspiration and commitment to be ‘A Servant Leader Company’ where Company Associates, regardless of job title or responsibility, consistently make choices to be Patient, Kind, Humble, Respectful, Selfless, Forgiving, Honest and Committed in all of their interactions. 

As I often remind people when speaking about Servant Leadership, we all will typically spend more waking hours at work than in any other activity or endeavor.  As such, it is inevitable that there will be times when two or more individuals will see things differently.  Said differently, being a Servant Leader Company does not suggest an absence of conflict or disagreement, but instead it defines how different viewpoints, conflict and disagreement are resolved.  Imagine just for a moment the opposite of Servant Leadership and our KT Way Values; impatient, unkind, arrogant, disrespectful, selfish, unforgiving and harboring resentment, dishonest and deceptive, and uncommitted or unreliable.  Does anyone of us honestly wish to be part of such an organization –or a team within the organization?  The answer I believe is self-evident. 

If you agree with me that the answer to the above question is in fact self-evident, let us all recommit ourselves to the principles of Servant Leadership in this new year; doing so will give us a strong foundation on which to achieve our best year ever, individually and as a Company.

To help us in raising our Servant Leadership skills in 2019, I would like to share with you three simple words with an accompanying three simple questions asked of EVERY LEADER that, when used as guideposts, will reliably direct us in making the right choices and decisions in the days, months and years ahead:

  1.  CHARACTER, i.e. Can I Trust You: Corollary question - Did we do the right thing?
  2.  EXCELLENCE, i.e. Are You Committed: Corollary question – Did we do our very best?
  3.  RESPECT, i.e. Do You Care about Me: Corollary question – Did we do the Golden Rule?

In closing, I wish all KT Associates health, joy and prosperity in the coming year.  As a Servant Leader Company full of Servant Leaders at all levels, we do have it within ourselves to make 2019 our best year ever!

Gary Smith

Gary Smith

Gary Smith Sr. is a 1983 graduate from the University of Kentucky where he received a Bachelor’s of Science degree with a double major in accounting and economics. After graduation, he worked with two international accounting firms and earned the Certified Public Accountant designation in 1985.


Gary joined Kentucky Trailer as Chairman of the Board in August of 2006 after working with a small group of the R.C. Tway Company’s fourth generation owners to arrange a transaction that resulted in a recapitalization of the Company and redemption of the third generation majority owners of the company. He joined the company as President and CEO in April of 2007.  Subsequently, in 2013, Gary led the Company through a transaction that resulted in Kentucky Trailer becoming a majority owned operations subsidiary of Alleghany Capital Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Alleghany Corporation.


Prior to Kentucky Trailer, Gary enjoyed a career as a successful entrepreneur and proven leader, having founded, managed and led companies where he was instrumental in growing and leading management teams to develop their businesses into successful enterprises.


Gary's experience in public accounting, management experience with public & private enterprises and his sense of stewardship and passion for the R.C. Tway Company’s heritage and legacy have come together to provide strategic thinking and leadership that today allows Kentucky Trailer to continue its long history of success.