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Illinois carrier to cease operations: cites brutal freight market, soaring insurance costs

“Right now it’s just better to close the doors, take a year off, regroup and figure out our next move,” co-owner Phil Kiszkiel told FreightWaves.

Illinois-based BK Trans Inc. will close its doors next month. Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

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Family-owned BK Trans Inc. of Arlington Heights, Illinois, said it will cease operations in March, citing a brutal freight market, the ongoing struggle to find qualified drivers and soaring insurance costs as the main reasons behind the small carrier’s decision to close after 10 years.

“The market in 2019 was brutal on us and we did everything in our power to survive, but then a couple of months after implementing [electronic logging devices] ELDs, the market tanked and we have not been able to recover for at least a year now,” Phil Kiszkiel, co-founder of BK Trans, told FreightWaves. 

His company, which he owns with his father, a former owner-operator, also picked up a number of leased trucks to try and stay afloat, but the high weekly overhead didn’t allow BK Trans to “keep the operation profitable.”

Kiszkiel told FreightWaves, “We have gone into debt hoping for better times in the future, but the outlook for this year looks grim.”

The company, which hauls produce and general freight, had 20 trucks in 2018, but that number dwindled in 2019 as rates dropped and Kiszkiel struggled to find qualified drivers.

Over the past 24 months, BK trucks have been inspected 21 times and nine were placed out of service, resulting in a 43% out-of-service rate, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) SAFER website. Its drivers were inspected 52 times and three were placed out of service in the same two-year period. 

While Kiszkiel said the Chicago area is a “wonderful place to start a transportation company,” mega-carriers have made it nearly impossible for small trucking businesses like his to survive.

He had hoped that rates would go up in the first part of 2020, but that didn’t happen. 

“Right now it’s just better to close the doors, take a year off, regroup and figure out our next move,” Kiszkiel said. 

Read more articles by FreightWaves’ Clarissa Hawes


  1. Steve

    Too many trucks for the freight out there at this time. We need to reduce the the trucks on the road by not bringing in any truck drivers under 21 and limits of 2 foreigners per company per year both should truck mechanics or computer techs to fix computer repair on the trucks. Minimum wages rates and minimum freight rates need to come back along medical insurance for all truck drivers on U S soil includes those from Canada and Mexico.

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Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 14 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Before joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and If you have a news tip or story idea, send her an email to [email protected]