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FreightWaves Haul of Fame: Epes Transport celebrates 90 years

An Epes Transport truck from the past. (Photo: Epes Transport)

Epes Transport was founded in 1931 in Blackstone, Virginia by Wilfred G. Epes as “The Transport Company.” By 1945, the company had established offices in Durham and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It continued as a family company for 55 years before being purchased on December 4, 1987 by Epes Carriers, Inc., a holding company established by A.M. Bodford.

 Early the next year, the company headquarters was relocated to Greensboro, North Carolina. Then Epes Carriers acquired Thomas Transport Systems, Inc. on November 22, 1989. Epes founded Epes Logistics, a transportation marketing and logistics company, on September 19, 1990. That year, the company also acquired the flatbed fleet of North State Motor Line of Rocky Mount, North Carolina. This acquisition brought the company’s flatbed fleet to a total of 110 pieces of equipment. It then acquired TS Acquisition, Inc., which was known as Texas Star Express, on January 12, 1991. Two more acquisitions were made in 1993 – Yeary Transfer Company of Lexington, Kentucky in May and Burton Lines, Inc. of Durham, North Carolina in July. These were followed by the acquisition of Anderson & Webb of Mount Airy, North Carolina and assets from York Transportation of York, South Carolina.

On April 3, 1996, a new division of Epes Transport System, Inc. began operations – Epes Dedicated Fleet Operations. Other acquisitions took place: On September 21, 1997, Epes acquired assets from Salem Express Services; C.S. Henry Transfer of Rocky Mount and Glossen Freightways, Inc. of Lexington, North Carolina on February 1, 2001; and Lakeway Trucking, Inc., Southern Freight Express, Inc., and Southern Freight Services, Inc. of Morristown, Tennessee on June 1, 2002.

A photo that celebrates the company's 90th anniversary. (Photo: Epes Transport)
A photo that celebrates the company’s 90th anniversary. (Photo: Epes Transport)

Several years went by before more acquisitions were made: on July 11, 2009, Epes acquired Piedmont Express, Inc. of Conover, North Carolina; on March 13, 2010, the company acquired Scales Express of Valdosta, Georgia; and on December 17, 2012, Cargo Logistics of Charlotte, North Carolina was acquired. Then on June 24, 2013, Epes merged with Texas Star Express of Rockwall, Texas. 

Through acquisitions and its commitment to community and technology, Epes became the largest private truckload carrier in North Carolina. The company operated over 1,250 power units and 5,500 trailers and employed over 1,200 drivers.

A Penske Logistics tractor-trailer. (Photo: Penske Logistics)
A Penske Logistics tractor-trailer.
(Photo: Penske Logistics)

Then, on July 2, 2018, Epes Transport System was acquired by Penske Logistics. As an operating subsidiary of Penske, Epes is a truckload common and contract carrier with a 48-state authority.

According to Phil Peck, president of Epes Transport System, LLC, “The culture at Epes is a function of its people. What has never wavered or been lost during good times of growth, or challenging times in the industry, is the trust, honesty and transparency that each person shows to their fellow Epes associates. At every level of the organization, and with every opportunity, we lean on each other, we count on each other, and we invest in each other.”

The company’s major markets are located in the Southeast, Midwest, Mid-South, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Florida. It has nine terminals in Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Scott Mall

Scott Mall serves as Managing Editor of FreightWaves Classics. He writes articles for the website, edits the SONAR Daily Watch series, marketing material for FreightWaves and a variety of FreightWaves special projects. Mall’s career spans 45 years in public relations, marketing and communications for Fortune 500 corporations, international non-profits, public relations agencies and government agencies.