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Daseke: The Flatbed Gorilla

Chris Henry, Program Manager, TCA Profitability Program



If you’re in the Flatbed / Open Deck segment, you’re probably very familiar with the Daseke name. In recent years, Daseke has emerged as the de facto gorilla in this fragmented component of the North American transportation industry. Since 2015, they have added industry stalwarts such as Central Oregon Truck Co, Boyd Bros and Smokey Point Distributing into their growing family, among many others.

Don Daseke, the company’s namesake and Chairman, an accountant by trade, started off his career as an auditor with Arthur Andersen. After Arthur Andersen, he spent time with IBM before launching his first business venture – Walden Residential Properties. Prior to jumping head first into trucking, he founded and operated multiple businesses in diverse industries.  

Daseke’s first foray into trucking started with the purchase of Smokey Point Distributing in 2008. In 2011, the company added well known operator E.W. Wylie. Soon thereafter, a strategy of identifying and consolidating successful flatbed and specialized operators had emerged. Targeting companies with complementary networks and freight, the long-term vision of building a ‘super network’ while also allowing for operator autonomy provided would-be acquisition targets with a unique incentive to continue to build their businesses, while also taking some money off the table (for most). For similar strategies, in other markets, one could point to Warren Buffett and what Berkshire Hathaway (his investment vehicle) have done with already strong insurance companies.  

During the sixteen-month period, ending September 30, 2018, the company acquired twelve companies. That is a torrid pace for any company, and leadership team. Many in the industry have wondered when the company’s strategy would change from growth by acquisition to ‘growth by execution’. It would now appear that Daseke is focused now on doing just that. With annualized revenue approaching $1.55 Billion, their recent (Q3) earnings release, provided more insight into what the future looks like for the Daseke family:

“Although we are committed to an opportunistic M&A strategy and our pipeline remains robust, we do not anticipate any further transactions for at least several months as we continue to focus on integration and organic growth. Given our performance to date, as well as our outlook, we believe Daseke is very well-positioned to accelerate the organic growth of our operating companies and leverage our scale in 2019 and beyond.”

Operating Attributes

Companies that fall under the Specialized sector include:

  • Smokey Point Distributing – Arlington, WA. Offers one of North America’s most diverse trailer fleets, including retractable curtain trailers in flatbed, step deck and low profile step decks.
  • E.W. Wylie – West Fargo, ND, Sanford, NC and Houston, TX. Run flatbed and step deck trailers and handles specialized, high-value hauls and provides oil field cargo services.
  • J. Grady Randolph – Gaffney, SC. One of the largest over-dimensional carriers in the Southeast.
  • Lone Star Transportation – Abilene, TX. Specialize in over-dimensional loads and have a daily presence in Mexico.
  • Bulldog Hiway Express – Charleston, SC.  Operates throughout the U.S. and Canada with an emphasis on supporting the automotive and energy sectors, including wind, solar and nuclear power.  Offer the ability to handle heavy hauls with loads up to 180,000 lbs.
  • The Schilli Companies – Remington, IN. Founded in 1961, Schilli focuses on warehouse transportation and open deck specialized industrial logistics solutions.
  • Big Freight Systems – Winnipeg, MB. Big Freight is a top-tier safety tanked open deck carrier with a specialization in the power sports market segment.
  • The Steelman Companies – Springfield, MO. Steelman handles standard flatbed freight, over dimensional loads, and specialized equipment.
  • The Roadmaster Group – Pheonix, AZ. This group offers van, flatbed, conestoga and dromedary train services. They handle truckload and LTL shipments.  Their speciality is in high-security shipments of hazardous or sensitive materials.
  • Moore Freight Service – Mascot, TN. Specialists in transporting flat glass – crated or uncrated – via flatbed, specialized van or single and double drop deck trailers.
  • Aveda Transportation and Energy Services – Calgary, AB. Aveda provides specialized transportation services and equipment required for the exploration, development and production of petroleum resources in Canada and the U.S.

Companies in the Flatbed sector include:

  • Central Oregon Truck Company – Redmond, OR. Offers comprehensive logistical services, long haul, regional and dedicated services using open and curtained flatbed trailers.
  • The Boyd Companies – Clayton, AL. Provides open and drop deck service plus logistics through one of 4 divisions – Boyd Bros. Transportation, WTI Transport, Mid Seven Transportation and Boyd Logistics.
  • Hornady Transportation – Monroeville, AL.  Primarily supports the building products and steel industries.
  • TSH & Co – Nashville, TN. Formerly known as Tennessee Steel Haulers, it also includes Alabama Carriers and Fleet Movers. TSH specializes in hauling metals, machinery and industrial products.
  • BTC – Builders Transportation – Memphis, TN. Solely focused on traditional flatbed operations hauling coil steel, wire products, structural and sheet steel, aluminum products, building materials, cast iron, steel pipe and machinery.
Learn more today


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The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes Bulldog Hiway Express (No. ) and Daseke (No. 21).

Chris Henry

Chris Henry has spent his entire 20-year career in transportation. In 2014, he founded the online motor carrier benchmarking service StakUp. As a result of a partnership with the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) in 2015, StakUp was rebranded as inGauge and Henry became the program manager for the TCA Profitability Program (TPP), an exclusive benchmarking initiative that includes more than 230 motor carrier participants throughout North America. Since joining the program, participation in TPP has grown over 300%. In June 2019, StakUp was acquired by FreightWaves and Henry became its vice president of carrier profitability, in addition to his role with TPP. Henry earned an MBA from the University of Massachusetts and a bachelor of commerce degree from Nipissing University.