At the time, most trucking companies probably saw 2007 as fairly miserable – soft freight demand, ample capacity and high fuel prices. Diesel averaged $2.89 a gallon in 2007, rising steadily throughout the year from a low of $2.41 in January to an unprecedented $3.44 by late November.
For many, those were the good old days. Today’s diesel prices are more than 35 percent higher than even the highest average price during 2007. Escalating prices coupled with the lag between fuel purchasing and fuel surcharge payments put severe strains on smaller carriers in particular. But fuel prices and other economic weaknesses have taken their toll on the nation’s leading trucking companies as well.
Three carriers that were in last year’s CCJ Top 250 – No. 67 Performance Transportation Services, No. 88 Jevic Transportation and No. 248 Alvan Motor Freight – ceased operations this year and so have been dropped from this year’s CCJ Top 250. Fuel wasn’t the lone culprit. For example, the troubled automobile industry contributed to the demise of Alvan Motor Freight and car hauler PTS, which shut down in bankruptcy principally due to a Teamsters strike. Other carriers that have survived have suffered severe financial distress. For example, Missoula, Mont.-based Jim Palmer Trucking – No. 226 in this year’s CCJ Top 250 – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July.
A widespread slowdown
The CCJ Top 250’s growth slowed further in 2007. Revenues grew 3.9 percent, down from the 9 percent increase recorded the year before and the 16.1 percent rise in 2005 over 2004. For LTL and truckload general freight carriers – the majority of the CCJ Top 250 – 2007 was truly a lackluster year. In fact, 2007 was just another 2006 for LTL carriers, which saw no change in revenues. Truckload general freight carriers posted a 3.3 percent gain as a group.
Only one group in the CCJ Top 250 – tank and bulk carriers – saw higher revenue growth in 2007 than in 2006. Together, those carriers’ revenue increased 9.6 percent – up from the 4.9 percent growth they posted in 2006.
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