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2014 Trucking Industry Overview

Wed, 06/04/2014 - 14:06 -- stateco

Companies in this industry provide long-distance and local trucking, including truckload (TL) and less-thantruckload (LTL) services. Major companies include US-based Con-way, JB Hunt, Schneider National, Swift Transportation, and YRC Worldwide, as well as Hitachi Transport System and Seino Transportation (Japan),
Norbert Dentressangle (France), Stobart Group (UK), and TransForce (Canada).

Large, wealthy nations such as the US, Japan, and Germany are top markets for trucking, but growth in emerging markets has prompted some companies to expand overseas. China, in particular, has attracted investments from large trucking service providers based in North America and Europe.

The US general freight trucking industry includes about 65,000 establishments (single-location companies and units of multi-location companies) with combined annual revenue of $130 billion. Key growth drivers include consumer spending levels and industrial output.

The industry is comprised of carriers that transport commodities for shippers using a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). This profile covers general freight companies, including for-hire carriers and independent owner-operators, which transport a wide variety of commodities using containers or van trailers. Companies primarily engaged in flatbed, tanker, or refrigerated trailer transport are covered in the Specialty Trucking industry profile. Express delivery services and moving and storage companies are covered in separate profiles.

Competitive Landscape

Demand is driven by consumer spending and manufacturing output. The profitability of individual companies depends on efficient operations. Large companies have advantages in account relationships, bulk fuel purchasing, fleet size, and access to drivers. Small operations can compete effectively by providing quick turnaround, serving a local market, or transporting unusually sized goods. The US industry is fragmented: the 50 largest companies account for 40 percent of revenue.

In addition to domestic consumption and production, US truck transportation depends heavily on free trade through NAFTA. Trade with Canada and Mexico represents about one-third of all US trade. The top gateway for truck transport between the US and Canada is Detroit; the top gateway for US-Mexico truck transport is Laredo, Texas. Cross-border congestion is a problem for trucking companies specializing in NAFTA-related trade. Movement to or from Canada and Mexico can often be hampered by long lines and lengthy inspection processes.

Trucking competes with other forms of cargo transportation, including rail, air, and water. However, the shift toward intermodal transportation means that these modes of delivery are often more complementary than competitive.