Change at the Top, New Firms on List Shape Annual Survey

By Daniel P. Bearth

Senior Features Writer

This story appears in the Nov. 17 print edition of Transport Topics.

The 2014 edition of Transport Topics’ Top 50 Logistics Companies list produced a few surprises, some fast movers and some new names.

The fact that UPS Supply Chain Solutions ranks No. 1 should surprise no one, given the extensive international and domestic transportation and logistics services provided by

Atlanta-based UPS Inc., the world’s largest package carrier. UPS SCS has ranked at or near the top of the list of largest logistics companies since the Top 50 list debuted in 2002.

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J.B. Hunt Transport Services, in Lowell, Ark., at one time the largest truckload freight carrier in the United States, maintained its hold on its No. 2 ranking, thanks to continued growth in intermodal, dedicated contract carriage and freight brokerage.

Exel, the North American logistics unit of Germany’s Deutche Post DHL, slipped to No. 3. Although it has cut back on some services — selling its freight brokerage business in 2011 and its home delivery business in 2013 — the company remains one of the most complete providers of logistics services in North America.

Two companies are ranked significantly higher than a year ago due to a change in how revenue was calculated. U.S.-based freight forwarders Expeditors International of Washington and UTi Worldwide rank No. 5 and No. 9, respectively, based on total revenue. In prior years, we only counted revenue for operations in North America. The change will make it easier to compare results for logistics companies with headquarters in the United States. For companies outside of the United States, we still use revenue for North America for ranking purposes.

As usual, mergers and acquisitions play a part in how companies are ranked. Most notably, XPO Logistics, in Greenwich, Connecticut, moved to No. 12 from No. 45 after making a number of high-profile acquisitions, including intermodal operator Pacer International in March and warehouse operator New Breed Logistics in September.

Investor Bradley Jacobs, who launched XPO with the purchase of a small publicly owned freight forwarder and expedited carrier in 2011, said the company is on target to reach $9 billion in gross revenue by 2017.

Chicago-based freight broker Coyote Logistics makes its first appearance at No. 41 with net revenue of $231 million that reflects its merger with another top brokerage firm, Access America Transport, earlier this year.

Legacy Supply Chain Services, a company based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, debuts at No. 49 with estimated net revenue of $170 million that is attributable, in part, to business acquired from Vitran Corp. in 2013.

Another company making its mark on the list this year is Echo Global Logistics. The Chicago-based firm offers freight brokerage and transportation management services and is ranked No. 50 this year.

More acquisitions appear to be in the pipeline.

Rhone Capital, an affiliate of Goldman Sachs Group, said it has agreed to buy Neovia Logistics, the former logistics arm of Caterpillar Inc. Platinum Equity acquired a majority stake in the business in 2012 and moved its operations from Chicago to Dallas. Neovia ranks No. 19 on the Top 50 list.

Neptune Orient Lines also is reportedly looking to sell its APL Logistics division, according to the Reuters news agency. APL Logistics ranks No. 14 on the Top 50 list.

Companies on the Top 50 list are ranked on the basis of net revenue for the most recent 12-month period, which for most companies is calendar year 2013.

Revenue is estimated for some companies with data provided by Armstrong & Associates, an industry research and consulting firm based in West Allis, Wisconsin. Some estimates were also provided by SJ Consulting Group., a firm based in Sewickley, Pennsylvania.

Net revenue is calculated by subtracting the cost of purchased transportation from gross revenue and is used for ranking logistics companies because it represents the money available to operate the business. Differences between net and gross revenue are most pronounced for brokerage and forwarding activities because actual transportation is provided by other entities.

For companies that provide warehousing and dedicated contract carriage using their own assets, there is no difference between net and gross revenue.


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