The trucking industry is one of the world’s biggest industries, so let’s get acquainted with some USA trucking companies.
The American trucking industry is an absolute behemoth that puts other employment sectors to shame. According to recent figures, the industry employs about 7.4 million Americans! That’s almost 6% of all jobs in the USA. Trucking allows for the magical economy of goods and services that we know and love to function; without trucking, companies would be unable to send their products to every valley and hillside of the country, into every Dollar General, every Price Chopper, every Home Depot, etc.
Because of this, trucking companies in the USA have tons of money at their disposal to pay truckers for their work. But who is the biggest trucking company in the USA? In this article, we will look at 10 of the largest trucking companies in the country. We will be focusing specifically on “Truckload Carriers”.
Topping off this list is perhaps a predictable company: Knight-Swift is actually the result of a merger between two companies, Knight Transportation, Inc. and Swift Transportation Company, both titans of the industry in their own right. The companies merged in September of 2017 and their joint project now employs over 25,000 people in its operations. Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Knight-Swift conducts trucking routes throughout the USA as well as Canada and Mexico. In 2019, the company reported a revenue of $4.9 billion, a number which actually dropped from $5.4 billion in 2018. Knight-Swift has positioned itself at the forefront of the digital transformation revolution, and recently partnered with Truckstop.com to integrate the site’s “Book It Now” platform. With the controversial automation revolution already underway, Knight-Swift looks poised to exploit it. Will this backfire on them? It remains to be seen.
Landstar System set up shop in the trucking industry way back in 1968 – the year of the Civil Rights revolution in America. They became a public company in 1991, the same year the Soviet Union collapsed, though both of these pieces of information are coincidences as far as we know. Landstar reported $4.1 billion in revenue in 2019, which is formidable, but they employ a far lower number of workers compared to Knight-Swift or many other transportation companies – just over 1200. Landstar has also dipped its hand into the shady and controversial world of Blockchains. In 2018, it joined the “Blockchain in Transport Alliance”. Only time will tell if this decision will end up bearing fruit.
Schneider National’s story goes all the way back before World War II to the 1930’s, when businessman Al Schneider, as legend has it, sold the family car to buy a truck. He surmised that in the future, American roads would develop and companies would be required to expand their distribution networks along them. His hunch was proven correct, and Schneider National remains a massive player in the game to this day because of it. They have about 20,000 employees and reported a 2019 revenue of $4 billion. Schneider was a lifelong fan of the Green Bay Packers, and Green Bay remains the company’s headquarters to this day. Like Knight-Swift, Schneider has embraced modern technology in recent years. They implemented “Platform Science” to log their load data and make decision making for drivers simpler and less stressful.
Clarence Werner founded this company in 1956, and in 2019 they reported $2.5 billion in revenue. Compared to other trucking companies in the USA, Werner has a slightly more international focused operations program. They do routes to Canada and Mexico but also in South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. All corners of the globe, really. Werner employs a staff count of around 13,000, and has a similar origin story as the aforementioned Schneider National – Clarence sold a family car in order to buy a truck. Not everything is smooth sailing in Werner-land, however. Last October, they were forced to pay $40.5 million to the family of a woman who was killed by a junior Werner driver in 2017. Accidents happen, though, and the company’s spirits do not appear to have been demonstrably shaken as a result.
Prime is one of the more under-the-radar players in the trucking industry, with no flashy origin story or merger to speak of. The company was founded later than the previously mentioned ones, in 1970. However, their might should not be underestimated, as Prime was one of the few major trucking companies in the US to report a growth in revenue from 2018 to 2019. They went from $2.3 billion in 2018 to $2.4 billion in 2019. The company is proud of its “positive, family culture”, and is headquartered in Springfield, Missouri. This “positive” culture was called into question in 2018 when Prime was hit with allegations that they had not provided a safe working environment for their female truck drivers. This was not an isolated case, either, and it’s something the company will have to square moving forward if it wants to become a truly elite employer in the US trucking industry.
Kenan Advantage Group
Based in North Canton, Ohio, Kenan Advantage Group is a relative newcomer on the trucking scene, and a promising one at that. Founded in 1997, the company reported $1.8 billion in revenue in 2019. Unlike most of the major truckload carriers in the US, KAG is still private. As such, we don’t have as much information about them. They likely employ between 5,000 and 10,000 people. The company ships a lot of chemicals and fuel around the continental United States, as well as Canada and Mexico. Taking pride in its work safety and supportive culture, KAG looks poised to solidify itself as one of America’s top trucking employers for the foreseeable future. In 2018, they put in place a series of pay raises for their drivers, which many interpret as a response to the shortage of truck drivers. Whatever the reason, it is good to see KAG’s employees being paid more.
Daseke is a sort of mother company network that operates a range of lower-level trucking companies in the USA. They specialize in flatbed trucking, reported $1.7 billion in revenue for the year of 2019 and likely employ about 5,000 employees. Lovingly dubbed the “Flatbed Gorilla”, Daseke is based in Texas and is trying to remain relevant in today’s ever-changing times. They are worried about the precarious modern market for flatbed trucks, and are also facing a series of leadership questions.
US Xpress Enterprises
US Xpress Enterprises prides itself as being powered “as much by brainpower as by horsepower”, and that philosophy has positioned them with a reported revenue of $1.7 billion in 2019. The company, founded in 1986, contains a very healthy staff of about 10,000 people, dwarfing some of the other companies in this article. Though their revenue dipped towards the end of 2019, the company remains internally confident that this was an aberration, and is participating in the industry-wide effort to revolutionize operations in a post-COVID world.
Clocking in at $1.6 billion in 2019 revenue, CRST actually took a bit of a tumble. That number was down 7.4% from their 2018 mark, and raises questions about the company’s viability and operations program in the year 2020. Based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, CRST is another private enterprise. While there are a multitude of factors that contribute to a given company’s revenue number, CRST’s bout with sexual harassment accusations over the years have likely not helped. The company has spent a lot of time in court, doling out legal fees and embroiling itself in emotionally draining wars of words. Is there a deep culture of sexual harassment at CRST? We can’t know for sure, but the sheer number of plaintiffs suggests that something is afoot, and in a societal time where sexual harassment is being exposed left and right, it’s possible that CRST will be left in the dust. However, their placement on this list suggests that a downfall is still a way’s away.
Roadrunner Transportation services
Speaking of downfall, our last entrant on this list is in a rather sad and desperate state. Roadrunner reported $1.6 billion in revenue for 2019, but this figure is down a whopping 15% from 2018! Last September, the company laid off 450 drivers and closed five of its terminals. According to the company, its dry van truckload business was becoming unprofitable, and thus had to be massively downsized. In a supposedly unrelated event, Roadrunner was hit with a $37 million lawsuit last summer that cost it time, money and energy. Through their major restructuring and attempts to win legal battles, the Illinois-based trucking company hopes to get back on its feet and return to the glory days. We wish them the best of luck, and we also wish that the employees who were laid off find new work.
So, there you have it. These are the top ten USA trucking companies in terms of revenue. We focused on Truckload Carriers as opposed to more distributed transportation or logistics companies with a trucking component. Will this list be the same next year? Probably not. That’s the beauty of business and technology – every day, a new trend, a new victor and a new chance to earn money. Especially in a pandemic-ridden world where things can change on a dime.