Assuming the reins of your family’s trucking company can be nerve-racking, but Trekker CEO Josh Kaburick was up for the challenge and wasn’t afraid to make changes.
Kaburick discussed the emergence of the Trekker family of companies with FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller on the FreightWavesTV show “Fuller Speed Ahead.”
Trekker is a diversified, multiple-service logistics and transportation company located in Caseyville, Illinois. The company offers a wide range of solutions including dry van, refrigerated, power up, dedicated fleet, local shuttle, as well as teams and relay.
Trekker serves a diverse set of industries from consumer goods to industrial, automotive to agricultural, among many others.
Before founding and serving as CEO of Trekker, Kaburick was CEO of Earl L. Henderson Trucking, his father’s asset-based carrier founded in 1978. When he became the leader, Kaburick felt managing a customer’s supply chain down every avenue was the best way to serve customers and that the company should diversify its services.
Kaburick also noted changes among the company’s competitors in the freight marketplace as reasons to diversify. “We’re not dealing with just the asset-based truckers anymore,” he said. “We’ve got pure technology companies that are disrupting the market and traditional brokers that are growing substantially. We needed to get diversified to stay in the game.”
According to Trekker’s website, Henderson Trucking merged with Tennant Truck Lines (TTL) in 2015 to form the Trekker family of companies. Both companies now are subsidiaries of the newly formed Trekker Logistics. Kaburick said that freight is placed on Trekker trailers but is hauled by Henderson’s power-only fleet, which gives Trekker flexibility on managing both sides of the business.
Kaburick said having both the asset-based and brokerage co-exist in the marketplace was the right thing to do.
“It’s nice to be able to go to a customer and have the flexibility to not only put the freight on your assets but also broker the freight out to your partners,” Kaburick said. “What we saw was an opportunity to do it under a completely separate name so it [Trekker] has its own identity.”
Kaburick grew up around his father’s asset-based carrier and noted there was definitely a cultural change when shifting the company’s focus to include a mode-agnostic model.
“For me, maybe it’s my generation of truckers, we can do a little bit more out-of-the-box thinking on how to be strategic and what we want to do and how we want to get there,” Kaburick said. “We’re not always solely focused on just our assets. We can use somebody else’s assets whether using planes, trains or whatever it might be to be able to grow and be diversified.”
Trucking has shaped Kaburick’s life since he was a kid. Not only were all his toys model trucks, his family’s vacations were always scheduled to coincide with his father’s business trips and meetings. “Every conversation we had in our household was about trucks,” Kaburick said.
Kaburick admitted for a time in college he considered an alternative career path, including becoming a high school teacher and football coach, but ultimately decided to give trucking a try.
Looking back, Kaburick is pleased to continue his family’s legacy and said he enjoys the business.
Fuller noted that unlike freight brokerages, there aren’t many young people joining asset-based trucking companies besides those who come from lineages. But he applauded multigenerational trucking families for their ability to often bring new ideas and innovative leadership to keep the businesses thriving.
“You don’t have a lot of young people joining the business,” Fuller said. “I think that’s why multigenerational families can do quite well because they bring a new mindset, education, way of thinking and technology into the family business that wasn’t there before.”
In addition to his role as CEO of Trekker, Kaburick was recently named 2019-20 chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA). In this role, Kaburick said he’s spent a significant amount of time working with TCA’s active advocacy program in Washington, D.C.
“It’s been very rewarding and I’ve met some very great people in this industry,” Kaburick said.