Deregulation of the U.S. trucking industry began in the late 1970s. Congress passed the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 and it was signed into law by President Carter on July 1, 1980.
One of the most dramatic changes due to deregulation was the virtual explosion in the number of trucking firms. From 1980 to 1990, the number of licensed carriers doubled – from fewer than 20,000 to more than 40,000!
Forty years after the deregulation of the American trucking industry, truckinginfo.net estimates that there are 1.2 million trucking companies in the U.S. About 80% of these trucking companies are regarded as small businesses, with six trucks or less. So while the industry is still regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the opportunities to enter the market have broadened dramatically. It is estimated that there are over 15.5 million trucks on the road; about two million are tractor-trailers.
During Thanksgiving week, FreightWaves Classics will highlight a number of these American trucking companies, and continue to do so over time. Every company, whether it owns one truck or 1,000, has a story. FreightWaves Classics will also feature the photography of Jim Allen, who supplies and/or finds the majority of the photographs used on FreightWaves.com.
AAA Cooper Transportation
AAA Cooper Transportation® (AACT) is one of the top 50 largest ground transportation companies in the United States. It is a privately held, asset-based multi-regional transportation solutions provider. The company offers less-than-truckload, truckload, dedicated contract carriage, brokerage, fleet maintenance and international services. With directly operated facilities in the Southeast, Southwest and Midwest along with coverage into Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico. The company operates approximately 3,000 tractors, 6,500 trailers and has 5,000 employees.
AACT has been named by Forbes magazine as one of the top mid-sized employers in the country for the last four years.
Headquartered in St. Louis, AA Express, Inc. is a fast-growing and family-owned transportation and logistics company. Founded in 2002, AA Express offers a range of truckload transportation services within the United States, including long-haul, regional, local and dedicated. AA Express, Inc. Logistics provides freight management services, less-than-truckload, refrigerated consolidation and freight brokerage services.
Chattanooga, Tennessee-based AAT Carriers is proud of its over 99% on-time delivery and claim-free service. The company employs experienced drivers with exemplary safety records. As a whole, its fleet averages 15 years of experience and 2.5 million safe miles per driver.
AAT Carriers services include: hazardous materials shipping services; transportation of commercial explosives; dromedary services; high security transportation services; government and commercial shipping services; and transportation protective services.
Headquartered in Ocala, Florida, ABCO Transportation was founded in 1993 “as a trucking company specializing in the transportation of floral stock and other highly perishable products, as well as the more routine non-hazardous items.”
ABCO Transportation provides high quality refrigerated trucks and transportation services for temperature-controlled cargo to dedicated fleets.
ABF Freight System
ABF Freight System is a subsidiary of ArcBest Corporation (formerly known as Arkansas Best).
Founded in 1923, ABF Freight operates a less-than-truckload network across North America to provide seamless transportation services in short- and long-haul markets.
Abilene Motor Express
Although it might make you think about Texas, Abilene Motor Express (AME) was named after a small town in Charlotte County, which is located in south-central Virginia. The company was founded in 1986 by brothers Keith and Kolen Jones. Abilene started with a single tractor.
The Richmond, Virginia-based company was purchased for an undisclosed amount by Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. on March 16, 2018. At the time of its purchase, Abilene serviced the continental United States and Canada.
“I figured it was time to step aside and let the younger generation take over,” said Keith Jones, who was 74 at the time of the sale. He served as AME’s CEO, while Kolen Jones, 68 at the time of the sale, was the trucking company’s president. Both left the company.
Their nephew, Alan Jones, had been vice president of operations. At the time of the sale it was announced that he would stay and become the company’s president. Their brother Kurtis, who was the vice president for personnel when the company was sold, was also reported to stay with the company. It was also announced that Knight-Swift would keep the Abilene Motor name and brand.
When it was sold, Abilene Motor operated about 400 late-model tractors and provided truckload and volume less-than-truckload services in the U.S. and Canada. It had more than 500 employees at that time.
ABJ Express, Inc.
ABJ Express, Inc. is a licensed and bonded freight shipping and trucking company running a freight hauling business from Dallas, Texas.
A small flatbed trucking company called E. K. Motor Service was founded in 1926, operating in Joliet, Illinois. Tom B. Kretsinger, Sr. purchased the company in 1972 and changed the company’s name to American Central Transport, or ACT. By 1994 the company converted its operations to 100% dry van truckload service.
American Central Transport keeps freight rolling across the highways 365 days per year. Serving the Midwest to the South-Southeast, the premium dry van trucking company offers shippers dependable, worry-free shipping.
A “Best Fleets to Drive for” winner in 2018, 2019 and 2020, the company built its ACT Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. The facility houses the corporate office, maintenance facility, training center and services center. It also lets all of the “ACT family to be headquartered in a single location.” The 24-hour services center is a haven for drivers, office associates and maintenance staff.
Affiliated Foods, Inc.
Affiliated Foods, Inc. is a leading wholesale distribution cooperative that supplies grocery stores and restaurants in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The company has been supplying fresh produce, meats, bread, and dairy products for over 60 years.
The Amarillo, Texas-based company was founded in 1946 as Panhandle Associated Grocers, which merged with South Plains Associated Grocers to form Affiliated Foods in 1968.
Note: Information for these company profiles came from company websites and other internet-based sources.
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