Daseke Leads Fastest Growing Flatbed, Jack Cooper Transport Ranks 2nd
A flatbed and specialized freight carrier and two auto transport companies were the fastest-growing businesses on a list of the 50 largest U.S. trucking firms last year. Most companies on the list grew faster as the U.S. economy accelerated in 2014.
That’s good news for shippers who need a healthier, financially stable base of carriers to provide transport capacity as the U.S. economy continues to expand in 2015. While the trucking industry appears to be slowing down, there’s still plenty of room for growth.
Daseke, an Addison, Texas-based company specializing in heavy industrial freight hauled by open-deck flatbed trailers, is the fastest-growing carrier on the 2015 Top 50 Trucking Companies list produced by SJ Consulting Group for JOC.com. The list, published since 2003, ranks private and public for-hire trucking companies by 2014 revenue.
The specialized carrier’s revenue soared 157 percent in 2014 to $532 million, propelling Daseke onto the Top 50 Trucking Companies list for the first time at number 49. Since 2009, when it had $30 million in revenue, Daseke has grown rapidly through mergers.
In second and third place were Jack Cooper Transport and United Road Service, both car-haulers. The rapid growth of three non-traditional trucking firms reflects a stronger industrial economy, high automotive demand and the power of acquisitions.
Jack Cooper, number 26 on the Top 50 list, increased revenue 100.8 percent to $987 million, while United Road Service, 45th in the rankings, boosted revenue 67.3 percent to $560 million. Both companies made major acquisitions in 2013, fueling growth.
The next seven carriers on the list included truckload and less-than-truckload carriers as well as a bulk carrier, with growth rates ranging from 19 percent to nearly 50 percent. In comparison, the fastest growing carrier in 2013, KLLM, raised revenue 61.9 percent.
Looking at YTY growth, several trucking companies saw great growth rates. The 10 fastest-growing carriers among the Top 50 Trucking Companies in 2014, and their year-over-year growth rates, were:
Daseke, a specialized flatbed hauler: 157.6 percent
Jack Cooper Transport, a car-hauler: 100.8 percent
United Road Service, a car-hauler: 67.3 percent
Heartland Express, a truckload carrier: 49.7 percent
Central Transport International, an LTL carrier: 36.6 percent
Roadrunner Transportation System, a truckload/LTL carrier: 29.5 percent
Pitt Ohio, an LTL carrier: 28.7 percent
KLLM, a refrigerated truckload carrier and last-year’s fastest grower: 28 percent
Kenan Advantage Group, a bulk liquids hauler: 21.8 percent
Old Dominion Freight Line, an LTL carrier: 19.3 percent
Eight of these companies made significant acquisitions in 2013 and 2014, gaining not only revenue but customers, . Only Pitt Ohio and ODFL can call their growth “organic.”
The more vigorous expansion of the 10 fastest-growing carriers reflects much stronger overall growth among the Top 50 trucking companies last year as the economic recovery finally began to speed up after a “soft patch” that lasted through much of 2012 and 2013.
The Top 50 carriers increased their combined revenue 10 percent last year to $117 billion, compared with a 5.3 percent gain to $106.3 billion in 2010. Significantly, the number of Top 50 truckers that increased revenue by more than 20 percent tripled, rising from three to nine.
The wave of acquisitions that helped drive that growth is expected to roll on this year, as tight trucking capacity and rising freight demand give carriers impetus to make deals and grow quickly. For many, acquisitions also are the most expedient way to find new truck drivers.