FreightWaves’ Top 500 Largest For-Hire Carriers list
FreightWaves just released the inaugural Top 500 list of the largest for-hire trucking fleets in the U.S. The ranking is based on tractor count and provides information on fleet size regardless of segment. For example, there is not a distinction between flatbed, LTL or dry van carriers; instead, the goal is to provide a comprehensive list for the industry.
FedEx and UPS came in at the No. 1 and 2 spots, with Knight-Swift and J.B. Hunt rounding out the third and fourth positions. Quick by the numbers below:
- FedEx: 36,306 tractors and 134,278 trailers
- UPS 30,224 tractors and 100,659 trailers
- Knight-Swift 22,680 tractors and 69,790 trailers
- J.B. Hunt 19,039 tractors and 122,982 trailers
Common themes among the largest carriers on this list go beyond just an impressive tractor and trailer count. Size allows economies of scale, and in trucking, the more you have the more opportunity for growth during market disruptions. Additionally many of the top truckload carriers on this list diversify their offerings with full truckload, dedicated contract carriage, intermodal and expedited. Similarly, the largest LTL carriers, such as FedEx and UPS, offer expedited and airfreight in addition to their terminal and warehouse operations.
Check out the interactive list at https://ratings.freightwaves.com/carriers/
Ascend enters the truckload market
Ascend, a new company based in Atlanta, will focus on regional dry van full truckload transportation serving shippers in areas including consumer goods, packaging and the industrial supply chain. The company began through a merger and integration of Jackson, Tennessee-based Milan Supply Chain Solutions and Potonoc, Mississippi-based J&B Services, a regional transportation provider acquired by Milan in October 2018.
CEO Michael McLary, a former executive at UPS and Amazon, said: “We created Ascend to meet the growing needs in the middle-mile market to address driver shortages, balance current market dynamics and ever-changing consumer behavior. Our vision is to transform the regional truckload sector by leveraging technology, building density, and offering driver-friendly routes and policies.”
Ascend currently has around 775 trucks, 2,270 trailers and more than 1,200 full-time drivers with backing by a middle-market private equity firm, Wellspring Capital Management Group LLC.
The big picture:
This past year we’ve seen many mergers and acquisitions in the trucking industry but very few instances of mergers resulting in a new company. The backing of private equity and focus on technology indicates increased investment interest in trucking. I expect additional private equity investment activity into 2022 as freight technology becomes a major theme for truckload carriers.
Market update: Outbound tender rejections defy seasonal expectations
National tender rejection rates remain high as the predicted easing of capacity constraints following the Christmas and New Year’s holidays failed to materialize. This is remarkable, as it is the first time in the history of the 4-year-old index that tender rejections did not notably decline but instead increased moving into the new year. For context, tender rejections at this point at the end of 2019 were at 7.98% compared to the current value of 22.18%.
This puts us in uncharted territory, as continuous contracted tender rejections indicate the supply chain disruptions may last well into next year unless other factors such as the chip shortage and Class 8 production increase to allow capacity to enter the market.
Zach Strickland on SONAR sightings provided some great observations below:
- “Spot market rates edged higher in lanes like Salt Lake City to Los Angeles and hit new highs out of Seattle. Both of these origins are typically some of the easiest to cover in the U.S., with LA being a very favorable destination.”
- “Reefer capacity continues to be a volatile mess with spikes in rejection coming out of Florida and the Northwest last week. These areas helped push the national reefer rejection index back over 40% for the first time since May 2021.”
- “We expect some general easing, but everyone will have to be on their toes for the foreseeable future as history has become a poor predictor of future events.”
FreightWaves TRAC lane spotlight: Chicago to Atlanta
Commentary courtesy of FreightWaves Daily Watch
Summary: Atlanta becomes a more favorable destination for carriers as outbound demand for dry van capacity outpaces inbound demand.
- The current average dry van spot rate that brokers are paying for on-demand capacity is $4.16 a mile, including fuel surcharges, up from $4.02 at the beginning of the year.
- The domestic intermodal spot rate is $3.73 a mile, including fuel surcharges, 9% below the latest dry van spot rate.
- The average domestic intermodal volume in the lane in the past week is 214 containers a day, compared to 275 before the holidays.
Carriers: Some carriers may be reluctant to head to Atlanta because its outbound dry van tender rejection rate of 15.4% is well below the 20.1% national rate. But, carriers should also keep in mind that the rising Atlanta Van Headhaul Index (which increased from -10 in late December to 27 currently) suggests that it should be easy to get reloaded in Atlanta. The increase in the Headhaul Index also indicates the market is tightening.
The Routing Guide: Links from around the web
Workers Sick With Omicron Add to Manufacturing Woes. (The Wall Street Journal)
Warehouse, transportation capacity tight with retailers potentially ‘over-ordering’ (FreightWaves)
Trucking Merger: Christenson Transportation acquires family-owned Sharp (FreightWaves)
Web 3.0 impressions from creator of Signal secure messaging app. (Moxie.org)