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2020 Best Truckload Companies (And How to Choose) Blog Feature
Rick LaGore

By: Rick LaGore on June 5th, 2019

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2020 Best Truckload Companies (And How to Choose)

Truckload

truckload freightWe talk with hundreds of shippers about truckload and truckload brokerage options every year in sales calls, blog discussions, social media and through our participation on leading industry panels sponsored by the TIA (Transportation Intermediaries Association).  

The one topic that always comes up is: who are the largest and best truckload motor carriers in the market today?  

As with many solutions, there is not a one size fits all answer and often the largest is not the best for a shipper, but it is still an important question many shippers ask as they pursue their over-the-road truckload requirements.  

So, to help in answering the question, we’ve come up with our top 20 truckload carrier list for shippers to review, while also providing details on how to select the best 53’ capacity solution that will be the best fit for their logistics requirements.

With all that said, let’s jump right into the top twenty listing, then provide details of each.


Knight-Swiftknight swift logo

Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Established: 1990

Website: https://www.knighttrans.com

Services: Truckload / Dedicated / Brokerage / Intermodal / Drayage

 

Schneiderschneider logo

Location: Green Bay, Wisconsin

Established: 1935

Website: https://schneider.com/

Services: Truckload / Dedicated / Expedited / Intermodal / Specialized

 

Landstarlandstar logo

Location: Jacksonville, Florida

Established: 1988

Website: https://www.landstar.com/

Services: Truckload, LTL, Dedicated, Expedited, Heavy Haul

 

JB Huntjb hunt logo

Location: Lowell, Arkansas

Established: 1961

Website: https://www.jbhunt.com/

Services: Intermodal / Drayage / Truckload / Dedicated / Brokerage

 

Primeprime inc logo

Established: 1970

Location: Springfield, Missouri

Website: https://www.primeinc.com/

Services: Refrigerated Truckload, Flatbed, Tanker

 

Werner Enterpriseswerner logo

Location: Omaha, Nebraska

Established: 1956

Website: https://www.werner.com

Services: Truckload, Dedicated, Expedited, Temp Controlled, Flatbed

 

CRSTCRST logo

Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Established: 1955

Website: https://www.crst.com

Services: Truckload, Expedited, Dedicated, Flatbed

 

US XpressUS xpress logo

Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Established: 1986

Website: https://www.usxpress.com

Services: Truckload, Dedicated

 

Cretecrete carrier logo

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Established: 1966

Website: https://www.cretecarrier.com

Services: Truckload, Temp Controlled, Specialized

 

CR EnglandCR England Logo

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Established: 1920

Website: https://www.crengland.com

Services: Truckload, Temp Controlled, Intermodal, Dedicated

 

Roadrunner Transportationroadrunner transportation logo

Location: Downers Grove, Illinois

Established: 1984

Website: https://www.rrts.com

Services: Truckload, LTL, Temp Controlled

 

Covenant Transportcovenant transport logo

Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Established: 1986

Website: https://www.covenanttransport.com/

Services: Truckload, Expedited

 

Western Expresswestern express logo

Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Established: 1990

Website: https://www.westernexp.com

Services: Truckload, Dedicated, Flatbed

 

Heartland Express

Location: North Liberty, Iowa

Established: 1978

Website: https://www.heartlandexpress.com

Services: Truckload, Dedicated

 

RuanRUAN logo

Location: Des Moines, Iowa

Established: 1932

Website: https://www.ruan.com

Services: Truckload, Dedicated

 

Cardinalcardinal logistics logo

Location: Concord, North Carolina

Established: 1981

Website: https://www.cardlog.com

Services: Dedicated

 

MartenMarten Logo

Location: Mondovi, Wisconsin

Established: 1946

Website: https://www.marten.com/

Services: Temp Controlled Truckload

 

Universaluniversal truckload logo

Location: Warren, Michigan

Established: 1932

Website: https://www.UniversalLogistics.com

Services: Truckload, Dedicated

 

P. A. M. TransportPAM Transport, Inc. logo

Location: Tontitown, Arkansas

Established: 1980

Website: https://www.pamtransport.com

Services: Truckload, Expedited, Dedicated

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So, now that you are armed with the basic information on the biggest truckload providers in the market, let’s walk through the topics to consider to make an objective decision on what provider will be the best fit for your supply chain.

Important Considerations for Choosing a Truckload Motor Carrier

truckload Decision

Keep in mind the truckload market is worth $700 billion in revenue and is highly segmented making the ability to tap into 100% of the capacity options in a given freight lane very difficult to obtain. 

This is why many shippers reach out to logistics service providers (LSP’s) because of their ability to have depth and breadth in the unlimited origin-destination pairs.

 On the fragmentation of the truckload market, according to the US Department of Transportation, there are over 700,000 registered motor carriers, with 91.0% operating 6 or fewer trucks and 97.3% operating fewer than 20 trucks

In other words, there are plenty of options for shippers to tap into for their truckload needs, but it can be overwhelming at times.  Companies need not settle, so they should be deliberate and diligent in their search to find what freight service solutions will be best for their needs. 

So, with all that in mind, here are some thoughts to help a shipper through the buying process of 53’ capacity.

  • Valid Operating Authority
  • Freight Carrier Safety RatingSafety Rating
      • It is of the utmost importance for shippers to check the safety rating of the carriers they put under their loads. A freight carrier’s safety rating essentially becomes the shipper’s if they hire them, meaning if that driver gets in an accident the claimant can come back to the shipper to make a claim of liability.
        • The website for Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System is where shippers can check the safety records of the carriers they employ to run their freight.
          • If the truckload carrier has been in business for a while and there are no inspections, then this may mean they fronting the business as an asset motor carrier but then broker all the loads out.
          • If the carrier has a high out of service rate, then it could mean they are getting stopped at every scale for further scrutiny by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
        • A plus with working with an LSP or 3PL is they have their systems tied into monitoring programs that go out a minimum of once a day to check the safety rating and valid operating authorities for all of their motor carriers they use for their shippers.
  • Cargo InsuranceInsurance Coverage
      • Validate the carrier’s business insurance meets the requirements of your legal department, then check the cargo loss and damage coverage to ensure it will cover the value of your shipments.  
        • Shippers need to remember to check both business operations and cargo insurance.  
      • As part of the validation process, check to ensure there are not any clauses that do not cover your shipment’s value and what is carrier’s policy on the deductible.
  • Credit
      • Check the truckload carrier’s credit.  The credit rating provides a shipper a good snapshot view of the financial health of the company they are working with to service its customers.
        • Keep in mind, a freight carrier can close its doors without warning leaving a shipper out trying to find where its freight is and how to recover it.
  • differentiator in managed TM servicesService is the Differentiator
      • A motor carrier can be perfect on all its safety, insurance and financial stability. But if they cannot service a shippers customer base well, then it really does not matter.
        • The best way to validate service performance is to ask for references, network in the freight and logistics marketplace with peers and research for negative comments on the web and social media.  
          • Again, the numbers may be perfect, but if the carrier cannot pick-up and deliver on-time, then the impact can be far-reaching and ultimately damage the shipper’s reputation with its customer base.
  • Certifications
      • Is the truckload carrier positively associated and engaged with industry leadership?
  • Subject Matter Experts
      • Is the carrier engaged in educational or other support content publishings?
  • Dedicated Operational Support
      • Consider whether your company will be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in an ocean.  
  • geographic locationsGeographic Coverage
      • Does the provider offer the geographic coverage to meet the shipper’s freight capacity requirements?
      • If not, what percentage and what lanes are the carriers best strengths or balance to other freight they are moving?
  • Operational Coverage
      • What are the standard operating hours and how does one get in touch with the freight provider “after-hours”?
  • Technology
      • Will the truckload provider be able to integrate into the shipper’s business systems as required?
Technology services
  • Quality of Service
    • Do they have the systems and processes internally to provide exceptional service, even when there is a failure to meet your service level requirements?
  • Carrier’s Customer Base
    • Does the freight provider like to work with the large, high volume shippers or is their service more boutique-oriented for small to medium-sized shippers. Both have their place in the market, but both do not fit the needs of all shippers all the time.  In many cases, high volume, also means the motor carrier is looking to service certain markets to maximize their asset turns while ignoring other freight lanes.

 

Other Considerations for Truckload Capacity Requirements

Other options for shippers to tap exercise to tap into truckload over-the-road carrier capacity is either working with a logistics service provider and / or bringing in an intermodal strategy. 

Again, there is not a one size fits all solution, so don’t be hesitant to review the pros and cons.

Logistics Service Providers

logistics service provider (LSP)Logistics service providers bring with them technology, process, market knowledge and a deep bench that can be helpful for shippers looking for additional capacity.  It does not need to be an all or nothing approach, which is why LSP’s are often the back-up to shippers when their primary motor carriers cannot fulfill all a shipper’s capacity. 

For more on the pros and cons of LSP’s and Carriers, we recommend the article entitled Logistics Service Providers vs Motor Carriers: Comparing the Differences.

Intermodal

intermodal trucksAnother option for 53’ capacity is either converting a truckload freight lane to intermodal when the option is available.  Intermodal is not an option available on every freight lane, but when it is a shipper can bring in a tremendous amount of additional capacity and a fair price. 

A quick read on the differences between intermodal and truckload can help a shipper better understand if their organization is ready for the possibility of a modal conversion strategy on their 53’ capacity lanes.

Once a shipper makes a decision as to what truckload carriers will work best for them on fit, here are a few articles to read on price:

How-to Negotiate & Execute Best Freight Rates: Comprehensive Guide

Freight Contract Rates vs Spot Rates - Comprehensive Guide

While InTek Freight & Logistics is not a truckload asset motor carrier itself, but instead a LSP we do have the ability to tap into the total 53’ truckload and intermodal freight markets at competitive prices and a high level of service.  We’d love to be part of the conversation if you are looking for additional options.


Learn more about InTek Freight & Logistics and follow us on our weekly blogs.

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About Rick LaGore

Rick is the co-founder and CEO of InTek Freight & Logistics, a company focused on being the place where companies come when faced with a logistics problem.

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