Watch Now

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

[vimeo-autoplay video-id=”394214462″]

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. C R S

    It is amazing though how the oOS list just keeps on growing. And you have to pay 45 to see what is in it. Sometimes the deep the state has to justify there job to keep it. But of course we are all rich enough to absorb all the costs. Let’s have nooo push back. Enforcement and punishment. Small business owner, just saying.

  2. Mike

    Dot writes violations hoping to run up your CSA score it’s the most ridiculous thing the government has ever come up with. I was talking a truck in to fix violations had the cashier’s check in the seat next to me. Dot wrote me up for every violation I was talking it in to get fixed. Sometimes you just have bad luck and that’s not what a business needs to survive and shouldn’t have to rely on

  3. Art

    Abe, Not just mega carriers..

    The illegal alien carriers are working for peanuts.
    The playing field is not even.
    Difficult to make money using W2 legal status employees.
    The foreigners, Bulgarians, Russians, etc seem to be doing fine with their 1099 contractor “employees”.

    Its like construction… unless you the cheapest you aint getting the work.

    1. DPP

      We’ve interviewed several American-born drivers who are working for these “Russian” actors, driving OTR for 60 cents and a 1099. We can’t match the mileage rate, but the driver doesn’t understand that he’s working WITHOUT work comp coverage, WITHOUT the employer-match FICA, WITHOUT any legal protections that a regular employee would have. We’ll probably see these same driver applicants again in three years, after they receive their IRS liens for the unpaid FICA and Federal income taxes. Bizarre.

      1. Victoria Petrenko

        Celadon, Network FOB and a lot of other companies weren’t Russian’s or Bulgarian’s , however still out of business. When business was good -everybody were happy, now Russians think that brokers hugging all money, American think that Russian’s and Bulgarian’s ruining this market, but the reality is-we have a supply and demand issue that typical for economy , so, let’s stop blaming each other and let’s wish each other luck in surviving!

        1. Omar Lopez

          I congratulate any one who works hard and builds a good foundation for themselves. It doesn’t matter who or where your from. Fancy trucks with all the chrome in the world and lights will not make you successful. Rather be prudent and smart. Focus on the lanes you need to be on.

      2. Art

        Vultures abusing the uneducated and lax government enforcement.
        Survival of the fittest/smartest.
        Sad, but government allows the abuse to happen.
        Immigrants and minorities have been abused for centuries by the rich. Every developed country was created on the backs of the disadvantaged.
        The hardest workers… are the poorest workers.

  4. abe f

    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.

    Mega carriers didn’t get you a 43% OOS rate which is driving up your insurance costs. It’s also something shippers look at when deciding whom to do business with.

  5. Dave Tildern

    All marginal poorly run carriers will close in 2020 or 2021 and so rates will therefore rise IF freight volumes don’t collapse. if volumes fall all bets are off and it will be a complete sh1t show for all carriers and brokers. If that’s the case, half of all carriers and brokers could fail. HALF!!

    Only fools don’t prepare. So do the following.

    1. Print off your P&L and replace EVERY single item you buy with something cheaper.

    2. Cut ALL unprofitable trucks, lanes or staff.

    3. Automate everything you can with cheaper and better cloud technology.

    4. Don’t borrow money to stay afloat

    5. Hold tight and pray!!!!

  6. Jason Miller

    The SMS profile (DOT# 1986767) strongly corroborates the reporting. You can see the challenging financial situation manifesting in quite a few OOS violations for maintenance-related issues like flat tires and brakes that were defective.

Comments are closed.

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].