ATA: Truck tonnage in 2023 saw 'worst' year since 2020

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Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024:

Truck tonnage fell 1.7% in 2023

ATA Truck Tonnage Index December 2023ATA's seasonally-adjusted Truck Tonnage Index showed a 2.1% increase in freight hauled in December, but tonnage was down annually 1.7% from 2022.ATA

Trucks hauled less freight in 2023 than in 2022, according to the American Trucking Associations’ For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index.

The seasonally-adjusted index showed a 2.1% increase in tonnage hauled in December over November, with the index reading 115.7 compared to 113.3 in November. ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello noted, however, that tonnage remained in a recession for the year despite the stronger finish.

“For-hire contract freight, which is what comprises our index, in December was 2.6% above the trough in April,” Costello said. “For the entire year, tonnage contracted 1.7% from 2022 levels. This makes 2023 the worst annual reading since 2020 when the index fell 4% from 2019, and the only year since 2020 that tonnage contracted."

Compared with December 2022, the index fell 0.5%, which was the 10th straight year-over-year decrease, albeit the smallest over that period. In November, the index was down 1.6% from a year earlier.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 110.7 in December, 1.9% below the November's level (112.8). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA's For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.

Ruan promotes new executive VP

Ruan Transportation Management Systems (CCJ Top 250, No. 31) has promoted Jeff Harpole to executive vice president, the company announced Tuesday, Jan. 23. 

Jeff HarpoleJeff HarpoleHarpole, who joined Ruan in 2020, currently serves as Senior Vice President. He will succeed Dan Van Alstine as Chief Operating Officer when Van Alstine retires near the end of 2024. Van Alstine will serve on Ruan’s board of directors starting in 2025.

“Ruan has experienced historic success under the leadership of Dan Van Alstine, which is a significant achievement when considered over Ruan’s 92 years of serving customers across North America,” said Ruan CEO Benjamin McLean. â€śThese contributions will define Dan’s legacy at Ruan, as will his critical role in developing and preparing his successor, Jeff Harpole. In working closely with Jeff, I have been extremely impressed with his highly effective people and customer leadership skills. Even more importantly, Jeff demonstrates and continues the leadership culture that has enabled our success.”

Harpole joined Ruan after serving as vice president of transportation for one of the country’s largest retailers. During his 12 years at the company, he managed an $800m transportation organization and worked closely with transportation providers in developing solutions, performance metrics, and pricing approaches. Harpole also helped launch the company’s private fleet, overseeing every aspect of the operation, including equipment investments, safety and compliance processes, driver relations, and maintenance operations.

Ron Hanson, Ruan’s Chief Administrative Officer, will also retire in 2024, the company announced. 

Empire Freight Logistics acquired by holding company

Cleveland-based Kodis Holdings, a collection of niche logistics companies, has completed the acquisition of Syracuse, New York-based Empire Freight Logistics. This is Kodis’ most recent acquisition since purchasing Tomball, Texas-based Standard Freight Logistics in July 2021. During this same time frame, Kodis also launched a new entity, SOLVR Logistics, providing on-demand warehousing solutions.

As a result, Kodis now offers a broad suite of logistics services, including freight, warehousing, and supply chain technology. These moves were designed to help the company diversify its service offering and position it as a leading provider of comprehensive logistics services targeting such niche markets as digital infrastructure, HVAC, power generation and distribution, commercial construction, underground construction, renewable infrastructure, and electronics.

"We serve a very particular client whose shipments are of a mission-critical nature and who can't afford an unreliable or unsophisticated logistics provider," said Michael Kokal, founder and CEO of Kodis Holdings. "Kodis’ strength is the aggregation, translation and synthesis of information from varied sources into a single source of truth that drives smarter business decisions for customers. We have strengthened that position by strategically welcoming Empire Freight to the KODIS family."

According to Kokal, Empire Freight Logistics was attractive because of its proven track record and reputation focused on pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and health science services. Its well-established network allows Kodis to further diversify its service offering to include LTL and enclosed trailer shipping. 

Former U.S. Xpress exec joins TMS provider as CEO

TMS provider Sheer Logistics has announced that Joel Gard has been named CEO and Board member. Founding CEO Joe Egertson has assumed the role of Executive Chairman of the Board.

Gard brings experience in providing 4PL/Managed Transportation Services and driving digital transformation in the logistics and supply chain industry to Sheer Logistics, the company said.

Prior to joining Sheer, Gard led the business transformation program at American Commercial Barge Line (ACBL) where he was tasked with building an internal 4PL/Managed Logistics platform for one of the nation’s leading marine transportation companies.

Prior to ACBL, Gard helped launch and lead Coyote Logistics’ European operations. Gard also served as President of Xpress Technologies, U.S. Xpress’ tech-enabled brokerage platform, and as CTO at U.S. Xpress. 

“Joel is a proven leader with a strong track record of serving the complex needs of global shippers, developing transformative technology and successfully driving profitable growth,” Egertson said. “With a deep background in 4PL/Managed Transportation Services and logistics technology, Joel is the ideal choice to lead the Sheer Logistics team. I look forward to working closely with Joel in my new role as Executive Chairman, and I’m excited for Joel to build on Sheer’s legacy of truth, transparency, and trust in serving the needs of middle market shippers.” 

“Since its founding in 2009, Joe and the team at Sheer Logistics have built a world-class 4PL/Managed Transportation Services and value-based logistics offering powered by an ecosystem of best-in-class logistics technology, including the proprietary SheerExchange Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS),” Gard said. “Mid-market shippers are facing unprecedented challenges in today’s highly competitive global marketplace. Sheer’s 4PL/Managed Transportation Services and tech-enabled logistics solutions were purpose-built to serve their needs and help them achieve their goals. I am grateful to Joe and the team at Sheer Logistics for the opportunity to join and lead this exceptional organization.”