Akron Beacon Journal, | Jeremy M. Rayl, the award-winning 39-year-old president and chief executive officer of JRayl Transport who oversaw the conversion of his Akron-based trucking company’s fleet from diesel to natural gas, died Wednesday.

“As we take time to mourn and grieve his passing, we also will come to honor him by continuing to pursue his vision and great energy and excitement he showed for the JRayl Transport business,” the company said on its website. “The business will continue to operate as Jeremy intended, which is to always deliver on our promises to customers and vendors … We always do what we say we will.”

The company’s website said Rayl died unexpectedly. The death was from natural causes, according to the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Rayl took over the family-owned business in 2008 from his father, Tim, who co-founded the short- and long-haul trucking company in 1987.

Several years ago, Rayl opened a compressed natural gas (CNG) station on Arlington Street in Akron for his company’s fleet of 70 — and growing — CNG-powered trucks back then.

“This is a strategic business decision,” he told the Akron Beacon Journal. “CNG costs less than diesel fuel, burns cleaner and reduces our fleet’s emissions.”

The company now has 134 CNG-powered trucks out of a fleet of 350.

The company website said Rayl had a pulse on the truck transportation industry and successfully navigated JRayl Transport through difficult times.

JRayl enjoyed double-digit growth under Rayl’s leadership, the company said.

“He has positioned the business to continue on this aggressive growth track,” the website says.

The company grew from about 100 employees when Rayl became CEO to more than 400 employees, with terminals in four states, at the time of his death. Along the way, he was the 2012 Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for Northeast Ohio, while the company was listed as being among the best places to work in Northeast Ohio.

JRayl is operating under previously developed contingency plans and will continue to execute its current business plan with the company’s management team under the supervision of co-founder Tim Rayl.

The family’s obituary painted a portrait of a highly competitive man.

“He wasn’t happy just winning at something; he wanted to win by a lot. It didn’t matter whether it was at video games, at sports or in business; he brought a passion to everything,” they wrote.

Under his leadership, the company supported a number of community organizations, including Haven of Rest, YMCA, Make-A-Wish and Toys for Tots.

The family said his office was a shrine to Ohio sports.

He was a 1996 graduate of Green High School and had a business degree from John Carroll University.

He is survived by his wife, Beth, and son, Jacob; father, Tim; sister, Tara; nieces and nephew; grandparents and other family members; and friends.

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