2018 Top 50 Logistics Companies: XPO Retains Its Place at the Top

XPO Logistics truck in front of company headquarters
XPO Logistics

As companies grow, so do expectations, and XPO Logistics is not taking its newfound status as the largest logistics company in North America for granted.

After a string of high-profile acquisitions pushed XPO to the top of the Transport Topics Logistics 50 list in 2017, the company kept its No. 1 ranking this year by growing its business organically and by effectively cross-selling transportation and logistics services to shippers. (See the 2018 Logistics 50 list here.)

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The ranking of third-party logistics companies is based on net revenue, which is total revenue minus the cost of purchased transportation. Logistics services include primarily freight brokerage, warehousing and distribution, dedicated contract carriage and air and ocean freight forwarding.

While more acquisitions are likely on the horizon for XPO, the company also is laying down a marker for logistics companies in terms of investing in technology and nurturing a culture of innovation in its workforce.

XPO spends more than $450 million a year on technology and employs more than 1,700 technology professionals, including 100 data scientists, to develop new ways of working with a focus on automation, shipment visibility and digital commerce.

Other companies are also using their size and financial resources to enhance service capabilities.

At DHL Supply Chain (No. 3), efforts are focused on providing customers with end-to-end visibility of shipments from the warehouse to final delivery. The company is using augmented reality glasses and robotics in its distribution operations. In March, the company launched Parcel Metro to provide same-day and next-day delivery of goods purchased online using a “virtual network” of local and regional vendors and crowd-sourced drivers and vehicles.

Prior to XPO’s rise to No. 1, DHL and UPS Supply Chain Solutions had traded places at the top of the Top 50 list since the first list was compiled in 2002. UPS moved up to No. 2 this year, with freight brokerage giant C.H. Robinson Worldwide and Seattle-based freight forwarder Expeditors International of Washington rounding out the top five positions.

In March, FedEx Corp. (No. 8) combined several of its logistics-oriented business units to operate under FedEx Trade Networks. The new business will offer warehousing and service parts distribution, freight brokerage, expedited shipping, cross-border services, freight forwarding and supply chain consulting and is headed by Richard Smith, the son of FedEx founder Fred Smith.

Americold Logistics (No. 9) is listed as a publicly traded company this year, a move that company executives attribute, in part, to the need to respond to market changes brought on by a shift toward e-commerce and the need for faster delivery service.

Several companies that specialize in e-commerce fulfillment are represented on the Top 50 list again this year. They include Radial (No. 14), which was acquired by the Belgian postal operator Bpost in November, Ingram Micro Commerce & Lifecycle Services (No. 24) and one company that is making its first appearance on the list:

Visible Supply Chain Management (No. 44), based in Salt Lake City, specializes in parcel shipping and fulfillment. With the acquisition of IntegraCore in October, the company boosted its annual package shipping volume from 55 million to 80 million.

Another company making the Top 50 this year is Averitt Express (No. 48), a regional less-than-truckload carrier that is using its network to provide a wide range of logistics services.

Two companies that appeared on the Top 50 last year are not listed in 2018. One is Estenson Logistics (No. 46 in 2017), a dedicated contract carrier, that was acquired by Hub Group in July. Swift Transportation (No. 15 in 2017) is not listed because relevant data on its dedicated and intermodal operations was not available. Swift merged with truckload carrier Knight Transportation to form Knight-Swift Transportation in September.