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. FreightWaves Classics will also feature the photography of Jim Allen, who 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 looking at them for many of us never gets old!
Alpha Trans Ltd.
Based in Brampton, Ontario, Alpha Trans Ltd. has been in business for two decades. The company has locations across Canada.
Alpha Trans Ltd. ѕресіаlіzеs in сrоѕѕ-bоrdеr trаnѕроrtаtіоn оf less-than-truckload аnd truckload frеіght between Cаnаdа аnd the United Stаtеѕ. Its focus is truсklоаd ѕеrvісе bеtwееn ѕеlесt аrеаѕ in the U.S. аnd Canada. In addition to its аѕѕеt-bаѕеd buѕіnеѕѕ, Alpha Trans Ltd. offers full lоgіѕtісѕ оffеrіngѕ, including wаrеhоuѕіng аnd dіѕtrіbutіоn.
A.N. Webber, Inc.
On its website, A.N.Webber, Inc. states “At its very core, [the company] is, and always has been, a trucking company. Though services have been expanded over the years, moving freight is the ‘driving’ force of the business.
Established in an old wooden garage in the town of Chebanse, Illinois, 70 miles south of Chicago, the company is now headquartered in Kankakee, Illinois. Founded by Albert N. (Neal) Webber Sr., in 1947, the company now includes four generations of the Webber family.
In 1947, Neal Webber bought a 1941 KB7 International to haul stone from a quarry outside of Kankakee to road and bridge building sites. Previously employed as a driver for other companies, including his brother’s company (which dates back to the 1930s), Neal Sr. was driving his own truck for the first time, not realizing it would be the birth of the company that still thrives today. Webber continued to haul stone for over 25 years.
Webber’s son, A. Neal Webber Jr., joined the company as a driver in 1958 after serving in the U.S. Army. He hauled construction materials for his father’s company in the warmer months and tankers when it became too cold for stone hauling. In 1961, construction on Interstate 57 began, requiring the need for flatbed trucks to transport rebar from a local steel mill throughout the entire length of Illinois.
In 1967, the company moved across town into a Sinclair gas station. They sold gas, oil, tires and trucking services. Neal Jr. stopped driving trucks the next year to help run the growing trucking company when it began transporting water heaters in dry vans. In 1970 Neal Jr. bought his first truck to add to the fleet, a 1965 B Model GMC.
In 1975, Neal Sr. retired, selling his interest in the business to Neal Jr. and his wife. That same year, their son, Alan, graduated from high school and went straight to work in the family business. During a 1979 blizzard, the company moved again; to a larger location in Kankakee.
In 2005 Alan launched the company’s logistics business, A.N. Webber Logistics, Inc. The company now has a variety of equipment, including dry vans, drop frame vans, containers, flatbeds and tankers, along with warehousing and brokerage services.
Known commonly as Aramark, this company provides food service, facilities and uniform services to clients in areas including education, healthcare, business, prisons and leisure. It operates in North America (the U.S. and Canada) and an additional 20 countries.
Headquartered in Philadelphia, Aramark’s revenues totaled over $16 billion in 2019. That is a long way from Davidson Brothers, which was founded in 1936 by Davre and Henry Davidson. Davidson Brothers began by providing vending services to plant employees in the aviation industry in Southern California.
In 1959, Davre Davidson partnered with William Fishman to establish ARA (Automatic Retailers of America), which became publicly traded in 1960. In 1968, ARA provided services at the Mexico City Olympic Games, the first of 16 Games the company has serviced.
In 1969, ARA became ARA Services to reflect its growing range of businesses. The company changed its name to Aramark in 1994.
Arka Express Inc.
On its website, Arka Express states, “We take no load lightly – and every opportunity seriously.” Only a decade old, Arka Express has grown from a 35-unit carrier based in Markham, Illinois, to a fleet of 400 units. Among its services are van/truckload, dedicated, power only and cross-docking.
In addition to its Markham terminal, the company is currently establishing terminals in Indiana, Atlanta and New Jersey as it delivers services throughout the Midwest, East Coast and Southeast. It focuses on a 400-mile regional radius in both Chicago and Atlanta. In addition, it has also developed an OTR presence from the Dakotas to Florida to New York – and everything in between.
Armellini Express Lines/Armellini Logistics
Armellini is one of the largest family-owned companies specializing in temperature-controlled shipments of perishable products, expedited truckload, and less-than-truckload scheduled service in 43 states.
Based in Palm City, Florida, the company was started in 1945 by Jules and Sarah Armellini to truck cut flowers from New Jersey to floral markets in the Northeast. The company remains a family-owned business that is operated by first-, second- and third-generation members of the family.
With hard work and a commitment to customer satisfaction, their first business, Armellini Express Lines, prospered. They built a small fleet of trucks and added New England to the company’s service area. In 1953, Armellini began hauling products out of Florida and moved its corporate headquarters to the heart of Florida’s flower-growing region in 1963.
The company’s website states, “Jules Armellini was always at the forefront of new technology in floral transportation; he contributed to the design of the first “flower-specific” refrigeration units for trailers, was the first to use wooden decking to split the trailer to relieve pressure on the flower boxes and promote air circulation, and was also the first to use satellite tracking to pinpoint the position of all trucks.”
Today, Armellini Logistics has several businesses: Armellini Express Lines, Inc.; J.A. Flower Service; Armellini Freight Brokerage; Armellini Air Express; and Dash Mobile Storage. The company offers a full line of transportation and logistics services, including air freight and warehousing (over 300,000 square feet of refrigerated warehouse space across the United States).
To read earlier installments of this series, follow these links:
Note: Information for these company profiles came from company websites and other internet-based sources.