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. This ended 45 years of onerous regulation by the federal Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC).
One of the most dramatic changes that occurred 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. Although the industry is still regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the opportunities to enter the trucking industry have broadened dramatically. It is estimated that there are now over 15.5 million trucks on the road; about two million are tractor-trailers.
Between now and early 2021, FreightWaves Classics and the FreightWaves Haul of Fame will highlight a number of these American trucking companies, and will continue to do so over time. FreightWaves Classics will also feature the photography of Jim Allen, who shoots, supplies and/or finds the majority of the photographs used on FreightWaves.com.
Some might say that “trucks are trucks…” and that is true to a degree. But every company has its own story. Moreover, almost every trucking company’s tractors and trailers have their own identities – different paint jobs, logos, decals, messages, etc. And for many of us involved in transportation, looking at them never gets old!
Bell Trucking Co., Inc.
Based in Shoemakersville, Pennsylvania (which is about 90 minutes northwest of Philadelphia), Bell Trucking Co., Inc. is a family-owned business that has been in business for more than 40 years. Its small feet of reefers, dry vans and flatbeds with sides make repetitive runs to points in the Midwest, Mid-South, Texas and California.
Bella Foods Inc. and Bella Fresh
Unfortunately, Bella Foods/Bella Fresh closed abruptly in early February 2020, after the company filed for bankruptcy in October 2019.
The company started as a small family-owned business in 1993 and became a leading producer of pre-cut fresh fruits and vegetables and salad mixes. The companies supplied the foodservice and retail industries in the Southwest and around the country. It had two state-of-the-art facilities (in Phoenix and Houston).
The company also offered transportation services with trucks like those pictured above.
Bell City Transport Systems
Based in Brantford, Ontario, Bell City Transport Systems is a third-generation temperature-controlled carrier. It specializes in all fresh/frozen less-than-truckload and truckload shipments to and from the United States and western Canada. The company also has a number of dry vans for less complicated moves.
Due to Bell City Transport Systems’ background in the fresh produce industry, it has grown its business by actively seeking outbound freight to the “growing areas” of North America (Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, California, Arizona, Texas and Washington state) to return to the Toronto area with fresh fruits and vegetables. It sells the produce to chain retailers as well as a large number of local wholesalers/retailers located around the city and the Ontario Food Terminal.
Over the years the company has also secured a large number of inbound produce contracts from ports along the U.S. East Coast (in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey). In addition, it has contracts with numerous processors of meat, poultry and dairy from the Midwest.
Established in 1958, Bell City Transport Systems also provides warehousing, logistics services, cross-docking, storage and packaging.
As an asset-based logistics company, Bell City Transport has its own trucks and trailers as well as the ability to work with established partners. The company’s trucks are equipped with collision mitigation systems, dash-mounted video recorders and onboard electronic logging devices.
Best Choice is one of several private-label brands owned by Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (AWG), the nation’s largest cooperative food wholesaler. AWG serves independently owned supermarkets – over 1,100 member companies and over 3,000 locations throughout 28 states.
AWG is the nation’s oldest grocery cooperative; it was founded in 1924 and incorporated in 1926. It is also one of the largest grocery wholesalers in the United States. AWG’s consolidated sales are approximately $9.7 billion. In addition to its cooperative wholesale operations, the company also operates subsidiary companies which provide real estate and supermarket development services, print and digital marketing services, and health and beauty care, general merchandise, specialty/international foods and pharmaceutical products.
Best Choice offers a wide variety of grocery staples; its products are equal to or better than the national brand quality. Like most private label grocery products, Best Choice brand products are priced lower than leading national brands because they do not incur the advertising and promotional costs that the national brands have.
BG Products, Inc.
The products of BG Products, Inc. help to maintain vehicles through high quality automotive maintenance services for fuel systems, engines, transmissions, brakes, power steering, cooling, battery, drive line and climate control systems.
BG’s products and equipment are shipped to a close-knit network of independent distributors and then sold through more than 40,000 dealerships, independent shops and franchises. These customers perform BG Automotive Maintenance Services on consumer vehicles.
The company’s products are manufactured in El Dorado, Kansas, and distributed worldwide. Its professional-use products and equipment add more efficiency, miles per gallon and long-term reliability to vehicles.
Six World War II veterans and a land speed record holder shared a common vision for a company. With years of experience in the automotive industry, the seven entrepreneurs formed BG Products, Inc. in 1971. Late that year, BG’s first two products went to market – Engine Tune-Up and RF-7. In the first full year of business, BG sold products worth just over $500,000. In 1973, BG grew 17% and 20% in 1974.
In the 1980s, the supplier of all BG chemistry had been sold to Witco, which quickly decided to close its Wichita plant. BG purchased the facility and began manufacturing its own products there. Utilizing a research and development laboratory and proprietary manufacturing processes, BG developed new products and was able to more fully capitalize on its existing products.
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There are more profiles to come as FreightWaves salutes the American trucking industry and all those who work to keep products moving!