The strongest economy in decades drove big gains in 2018 for most, but not all, of the largest freight carriers in North America.
Despite favorable conditions for the industry at large, early 2019 brought the closure of New England Motor Freight, a major less-than-truckload carrier in the Northeast and Midwest, along with other trucking affiliates of privately owned Shevell Group, which ranked No. 70 on Transport Topics’ Top 100 For-Hire Carriers list a year ago.
Mergers and acquisitions continued to rearrange the business landscape as well, although most of the action was among smaller carriers. Two of the most active consolidators in the trucking industry, No. 3-ranked XPO Logistics and Daseke Inc., No. 21, have curtailed acquisitions for the time being.
Tank/bulk specialist Heniff Transportation Systems purchased Miller Transporters in June 2018 and makes its first appearance on the Top 100 at No. 90.
Several other companies also join the list for the first time:
Hansen & Adkins Auto Transport debuts at No. 93 and is one of the few vehicle haulers to show an increase in revenue in 2018.
Red Classic, at No. 81, is the highest-ranked newcomer to the Top 100 list. The carrier is a unit of Charlotte, N.C.-based Coca-Cola Consolidated and, as you might expect, specializes in hauling beverages.
PGT Holdings, the parent of flatbed and tank/bulk carrier PGT Trucking and Southern Pines Trucking, a cryogenic and heavy specialized carrier, comes in at No. 98.
Epes Carriers, ranked No. 76 a year ago, drops off the list after selling its truckload/dedicated business to Penske Logistics, while Hub Group falls to No. 12 from No. 8 as a result of a restatement of revenue following the sale of its Mode Transportation business in 2018.
Some of the biggest movers in the Top 100 are companies that boosted revenue without the benefit of any acquisitions. Refrigerated carrier John Christner Trucking climbs 11 spots to No. 89 from No. 100. Flatbed/heavy specialized carrier Melton Truck Lines ranks No. 85 versus No. 93 a year ago, and Minneapolis-based truckload carrier Koch Cos. moves to No. 83 from No. 90.
Two companies crossed the $1 billion revenue threshold for the first time. They are: Evans Network of Cos., an intermodal/drayage conglomerate; and Lynden Inc., a diversified trucking and logistics firm based in Anchorage, Alaska.
The Transport Topics Top 100 and accompanying sector lists rank the largest for-hire carriers in the United States, Canada and Mexico based on annual revenue.
Data come from a number of sources. More than 120 companies submitted information from a survey conducted by Transport Topics. Other data come from financial reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval in Canada.
In some cases, estimates are used to determine annual revenue.
Data on trucking companies in Mexico are provided by Armstrong & Associates Inc., a logistics research and consulting firm based in West Allis, Wis.
Revenue estimates for some U.S. and Canadian carriers are provided by S.J. Consulting Group, along with data first published by Modern Bulk Transporter.
Data on mail carriers was compiled by Husch Blackwell, a Washington, D.C.-based legal services firm.
Postscript: On a personal note, I will be retiring on June 30, so this is my final column for Transport Topics. It’s been a pleasure to cover the trucking industry for the past 31 years, and I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this annual project and others covering logistics, private carriers and global freight carriers over the years. It’s been a great ride.