Trailer-Sharing Startup vHub Expands Marketplace
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Digital trailer-sharing company vHub has been expanding its collaborative marketplace since introducing the service in the United States earlier this year.
With more than 40,000 registered trailers on its platform, vHub is a growing community that turns unused trailers into revenue-generating equipment by making them available to other companies for short-term rental.
Through the online vHub platform, users can sort search results by location, routes and destinations, and the number of rental days that a trailer is needed or available. The technology company creates a legally binding rental contract, handles invoicing and payments and transfers rental funds to trailer owners.
In September, truckload carrier U.S. Xpress announced it has added its trailers to the vHub trailer repositioning and sharing marketplace.
Joe Pricer, vice president of over-the-road operations for U.S. Xpress, said the platform offers an opportunity to find users to reposition equipment and eliminate the cost of moving trailers back into its network.
“We are constantly repositioning equipment to provide efficient and reliable service to customers,” he said.
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U.S. Xpress operates a fleet of about 15,500 trailers. The company, based in Chattanooga, Tenn., ranks No. 24 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.
“The U.S. Xpress support of our platform illustrates how valuable it can be for the trucking industry,” said Francis Roy, vice president of vHub, which initially launched in Canada in April 2019.
Finloc 2000 Inc., the parent company of vHub, has provided equipment financing to the trucking industry for more than 40 years.
Roy said developing vHub made sense to the company’s shareholders since some of them also own stock in Manac Trailers and because it increases trailer utilization rates and helps customers continue making their monthly payments.
“You know our shareholders are always struggling to move new assets from the factory to the end user. And then as we are talking to our customers, we realize that repositioning is also a struggle in the trucking business in general,” he said.
Roy said vHub formalizes agreements in which fleets may already be engaged, where they help each other out by moving assets from one location to another. It protects each party with a rental contract. Also, as part of the process, drivers must thoroughly inspect the trailers through a mobile application when they pick up and drop off the trailers. This application requires them to take a number of photos to provide documentation, he added.
While vHub incorporates modern technology, its core business model is really nothing new, said Charles Willmott, CEO of WillGo Transportation Consulting.
In fact, his mentor, Sol Katz, the former owner and president of Strick Trailers, started a company called Transport International Pool with the goal of turning trailers into hot potatoes constantly utilized by one carrier after another. Katz sold the company in 1973 in order to start Strick Lease.
“The reality is that in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and even into the ’90s, as marvelous as that idea was, we didn’t have the technology to support it,” Willmott said. “Well, we have the technology to do it now. And the efficiencies that would bring the industry are incredible.”
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