Trucking Biz Buzz

Van and reefer spot freight rates on the rise

Flatbed freight rates dropped slightly as van and reefer rates continue a trend of increases for the week ending Saturday, March 7. This is compared with the previous week, according to DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

Van rates received a relatively large gain of 6 cents to $1.94. Chicago experienced rates as high as $2.12. Rates for the month of February were down 2.6 percent from the previous month and declined 5.1 percent since February 2014. Load-to-truck ratios increased 16 percent to 3.7 loads per truck. Only three states – Idaho, Maine and Vermont – have a ratio of 5.5 or greater, unchanged from the previous week.

Reefer rates also experienced a large gain of 5 cents to $2.16 compared with the previous week. Green Bay rates were as high as $3.05, 42 cents higher than the previous week. Lakeland, Fla., had the low rates of $1.66. Compared with February 2014, reefer rates are down 3.7 percent. Load-to-truck ratios went up by 15 percent to 11 from 9.5 in the previous week. Only seven states west of the Mississippi have ratios of 12 or more, unchanged from the previous week but still much fewer than weeks prior.

Flatbed rates dropped a penny to $2.12. With the exception of a $2.13 the previous week, flatbed rates have stayed stagnant at $2.12 since the week ending Feb. 14. Harrisburg, Pa., had a high rate of $3.41. Phoenix marked a low rate of $1.81. Rates are down 3.6 percent for the month and 3.2 percent in the last 12 months. There were 14.0 loads per truck for flatbeds, a 12 percent increase from the last week. Eleven states across the country have a ratio of 18 or higher, unchanged from the previous week.


Con-way Truckload joins charity to send free coffee to troops overseas

Con-way Truckload and military charity Holy Joe’s Cafe have teamed up to provide coffee to soldiers at military bases in the United States. Con-way Truckload is now a transportation sponsor of the charity.

Offering its services free of charge, Con-way will transport thousands of pounds of coffee to military bases. Coffee is also donated from suppliers.

Con-way began moving coffee for military charity Holy Joe’s Cafe last June. Transporting more than a dozen shipments, the donated service was valued at more than $50,000. This year, Con-way plans to increase the amount of shipments. Each truckload carries approximately 400,000 to 500,000 Keurig K-Cups along with a pallet of Keurig coffeemakers.

Once shipments arrive at various military bases, the coffee is sent to deployed troops. Soldiers in the Middle East are the main focus, with military personnel in 35 other countries also being delivered Keurig coffee.

Served by military chaplains at overseas bases, troops will have the opportunity to have conversations dealing with a variety of issues they may have to cope with while deployed. More than 150 military chaplains participate in this program.

For more information about Holy Joe’s Cafe and its services, visit their Facebook page.


Mack Trucks calendar contest accepting submissions

It may be March 2015, but it is not too early to start thinking about 2016 calendars. Mack Trucks announced this week that Mack owners now have the opportunity to see their truck in next year’s calendar.

Mack owners can submit photos to nominate their trucks at Mack Trucks' official Facebook page. Trucks being entered in the contest must be in current commercial operation. Any Mack model and year is eligible.

Fans of the Facebook page will vote on six trucks to be featured in the 2016 calendar. Currently, the Facebook page has more than 100,000 fans. Trucks that win the contest will receive a professional photo shoot that will be used in their spot for the calendar.

Mack is currently accepting submissions. All entries must be received by May 31.


Red Eye Radio Million Mile Club inductees announced

Chevron Products Co. has announced the most recent inductees to the Chevron Delo-sponsored Red Eye Radio Million Mile Club.

For 23 years, the Million Mile Club has been honoring U.S. and Canadian truckers who have logged in 1 million miles of driving without an accident. New members will receive a personalized Million Mile Club jacket, a membership card and a gift from other sponsors involved with the exclusive club.

Qualified drivers can apply to be among the next group of inductees by going to

Below are the February 2015 Million Mile Club inductees:

  • Ed Davis, Con-way Truckload, Yoakum, Texas
  • Jeff Gabel, Caledonia Haulers, Viola, Wis.
  • Kelvin Wartick, St. Cloud, Minn.
  • Wayne Chambers, Frito Lay, Lewisville, Texas
  • Ken Brennstuhl, Owner Operator, Unionville, Tenn.
  • Maude Bradley, H&M Trucking, Pleasant Plains, Ill.
  • Walter Salyers, Owner Operator, Springfield, Ohio
  • Raw Dawson, DC Express, McClure, Ohio


Transport jobs see biggest increase in more than a year

After the largest net loss in nearly a year in January, transportation jobs experienced the largest net gain in more than a year industry-wide for February. Truck transportation – a subsector – received moderate growth. The transportation sector gained 18,500 jobs in February, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Truck transportation subsector jobs received a relatively modest gain of 2,600 jobs, for a total of more than 1.4 million jobs. Approximately 2,400 truck transportation jobs were added in January. Trucking jobs gained the third most in the transportation and warehousing sector, with most subsectors receiving minimal gains. Couriers and messengers received the largest gain with 12,300 jobs added, followed by warehousing and storage with an additional 3,900 jobs. In January, couriers and messengers received the largest loss with 14,100 jobs eliminated from the workforce.

February’s transportation job gain is a significant increase from January, which saw a loss of 8,600. December gained more than 3,000 jobs. Last month marked the largest gain since November 2013 when the transportation sector was injected with 30,500 more jobs. 

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $22.94 for February, up 10 cents from January. Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees decreased 3 cents to $20.68. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries increased 3 cents to $24.78. Compared with a year ago, average earnings have gone up by 2 percent.

According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material moving occupations is down to 7.7 percent from 10.2 percent last February. The overall unemployment rate for the country made little change at 5.7 percent. The number of long-term unemployed remained relatively stagnant for February, but has decreased by 1.1 million in the past 12 months.


Mercedes-Benz Vans to open plant in South Carolina

Charleston, S.C., will soon be receiving an injection of German engineering as Mercedes-Benz Vans has announced plans to open a new plant in the city. Construction is slated to begin in 2016.

At a cost of half a billion dollars, the new plant will manufacture Sprinter vehicles for North America. Expected to take up more than 200 acres, the facility will include a new body shop, paint shop and assembly line. More than 1,300 jobs will be created, making Mercedes-Benz one of the largest industrial employers in the region.

Mercedes-Benz Vans’ decision to set up shop in the United States was a fairly easy one. According to a press release, North America has a thriving van market. Vans manufactured in Germany face high U.S. import duties. Additionally, vehicles must be disassembled before being shipped over. A plant in the U.S. eliminates both of these cost burdens.


CRST International acquires Pegasus Transportation

CRST International Inc. recently acquired Pegasus Transportation Inc. The purchase was made with CRST cash reserves.

“The acquisition of Pegasus will allow CRST to expand its temperature controlled operations nationwide footprint through their expanded customer base.” said Group President Mike Gannon. “For CRST and Pegasus it means improved fleet utilization and increased operating efficiencies. We look forward to working with the Pegasus employees and customers.”

CRST International’s annual revenue exceeds $1.5 billion, and it currently employs more than 7,000 company drivers, independent contractors and office personnel across the United States. CRST has acquired three other transportation companies in the last two years: Specialized Transportation, Allied Special Products and Besl Transfer Co.


U.S. Department of Commerce: trucks still moving most freight

The dollar value of freight hauled across the borders by U.S., Canadian and Mexican truckers in December was more than 9 percent greater than a year earlier. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, which also says trucks moved 60 percent of all the international freight, with trains, planes, ships and pipelines picking up the rest.

Reduced value of mineral fuels led to a decrease in December 2014 U.S.-NAFTA trade flow, according to the TransBorder Freight Data released by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Freight totaled $95.8 billion, the second consecutive month of decreasing freight flows when compared with the previous month.

Four of five modes experienced an increase in commodity value when compared with December 2013. Truck cargo had the highest growth at a rate of 9.3 percent. Rail freight increased 8.3 percent, air freight went up 6.3 percent and pipeline freight improved by 4.0 percent. Vessel freight experienced the only decrease from a year ago with a 22.6 percent reduction in value.

Trucks were responsible for nearly $3 billion of the $4.9 billion net increase from December 2013, the largest increase and offsetting losses from vessel freight. Rail came in at second with a $740 million increase. Trucks accounted for $28.4 billion of exports and $28.4 billion of imports.

More than 52 percent of U.S.-Canada freight was moved by trucks, followed by rail at 16 percent. U.S.-Mexico freight went up by 4.3 percent. Of the $42.8 billion of freight moving in and out of Mexico, trucks carried 67.5 percent of the loads.


First public access CNG station in northeast Florida opens

Diesel still reigns supreme, but natural gases continue to establish relevancy. Champion Brands Inc. and amp Trillium LLC have opened the first compressed natural gas station with public access in northeast Florida. The new fueling station will be located off of Highway 1 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Near the intersection of Interstates 295 and 95, the new CNG station will be open for heavy-duty trucks 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The station will use a public access card reader system.

Two dual hose dispensers will be available, allowing two trucks to fuel up simultaneously. Trillium CNG’s fast-fill hydraulic intensifier compressor will also be featured at the station.

Steve Josephs, director of engineering and co-founder of ampCNG, mentioned in a press release that the goal is to get more CNG trucks in the area and that the company has plans to open more CNG stations across the country this year.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are 811 public CNG stations and only 69 public liquefied natural gas, or LNG, stations in the U.S. as of press time.

In a 2013 report, natural gas engine engineering company Westport determined that LNG is more suitable for long-haul trucks. Conversely, CNG is a better fit for smaller commercial vehicles and more local or regional heavy-duty trucks.

Westport also projected that approximately 150 LNG stations would be needed to cover all of the major interstate trucking routes at 300-mile intervals.

Several fleets, including Dart, have invested in CNG tractors.


Averitt Express donated $450,000 in 2014, $7 million total to children’s charity

Employees at Averitt Express donated $450,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 2014. Last year’s contributions put the company’s donations at more than $7 million.

Founded in 1986, Averitt Cares for Kids has given nearly $7.5 million to various charities for children, including the Shriners Burn Institute and Ronald McDonald House. Weekly contributions from Averitt in 2014 went to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Contributions by truckers and other Averitt employees are voluntary and out-of-pocket.

“With just a weekly donation of $1, our associates exemplify what can be achieved when people rally together for a good cause,” Averitt President and CEO Gary Sasser said in a press release.

Since 1990, Averitt Cares for Kids has donated $4.8 million to St. Jude. As a result, families of children battling cancer and other diseases do not have to pay for treatment at St. Jude, including travel, housing or food. Families are afforded the opportunity to focus on the sick child without having to carry the weight of financial burden.

In 2007, the Averitt Express Leukemia and Lymphoma Clinic at St. Jude was completed with the help of a $1.5 million endowment.



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