Hometown heavyweights_ These trucking and logistics firms have Chattanooga roots

Over the previous couple many years, Chattanooga has change into a thriving hub for quite a few trucking and logistics firms — every of which has created jobs, contributed to towards financial prosperity, and helped reinforce the town’s place as a strategic crossroads for the trade. Right here, we spotlight among the most outstanding firms to get their begin in Chattanooga:


* Based: 2002

* Founders: Ted Alling, Barry Massive and Allan Davis

* Entry America Transport was certainly one of Chattanooga’s most profitable startup firms prior to now three many years, with greater than 500 staff and annual gross sales of practically $500 million when the corporate merged with Coyote Logistics in 2014. The mixed Coyote and Entry America firm was offered a 12 months later to UPS for $1.8 billion.

Entry America and its successors deal with multi-modal transportation, together with truckload, less-than-truckload, intermodal, flatbed and specialised freight for patrons throughout the U.S. Entry America staff have gone on to start out or work at most of the logistics firms populating Chattanooga’s enterprise scene. Founders Ted Alling, Barry Massive and Allan Davis used a part of their fortune from the enterprise sale to create the Dynamo Fund, a enterprise capital fund that has helped seed or support dozens of enterprise startups within the delivery and logistics enviornment.


* Based: 2015

* CEO: Lance Malesh (MODE International guardian firm)

* Headquarters: Avenger in Chattanooga / MODE International in Dallas

* Amenities: Avenger, 1; MODE International, 8

* Variety of employees/staff: Avenger, 75; MODE International, 450+

From the corporate

* Starting days: Avenger Logistics was initially began by Don Godsey, the founding father of Gold Bond, a provider of promotional merchandise. Godsey determined a freight brokerage had much less danger and extra upside potential than an asset-based firm, so he set his sights on making a freight brokerage in Chattanooga. The corporate shortly discovered success and went from $9 million in its first full 12 months, to $26 million in its second 12 months, and as much as $56 million its third 12 months. After one other profitable fourth 12 months, COVID arrived and altered every little thing. Avenger had been courted by potential consumers within the months main as much as the pandemic; and whereas a purchase order was practically full, the uncertainty of the instances precipitated these potential offers to be pulled from the desk.

* Navigating the downturn: Happily, the subsequent 18 months proved to be explosive for the trade, and in the course of the fourth quarter of 2020, the corporate was acquired by MODE International. Avenger stored its authentic identify and branding, and now operates underneath the household of firms held by its guardian group. Because the trade as soon as once more faces a difficult market, Avenger is engaged on streamlining efficiencies. The corporate continues to see year-over-year quantity development, and the foundational efforts towards automation are front-of-mind for the corporate’s key leaders. Avenger is positioned to proceed to develop market share with its current buyer base, whereas increasing into new trade verticals by way of elevated service choices by way of MODE International.


* Based: 2011

* CEO: Luke Marklin

* Headquarters: Chattanooga

* Amenities: NA

* Variety of employees/staff: 100+ headquarter employees

From the corporate

* Starting days: Bellhop (initially Campus Bellhops) was based by Cam Doody and Stephen Vlahos in the summertime of 2011 as a means to supply school college students with a easy technique to transfer into and out of their dorms. The founders’ preliminary aim was to schedule 30 to 40 strikes throughout Auburn College’s three-day freshman orientation weekend, however finally they accomplished 325. From there, Bellhop has continued to develop, now offering full-service and long-distance transferring in additional than 40 cities nationwide. The corporate has been listed as one of many nation’s high transferring firms by U.S. Information & World Report.

* Navigating the downturn: Regardless of the general downturn within the housing market, Bellhop has continued to seek out methods to speed up development by way of new partnerships and companies to help prospects. Moreover, the corporate has continued to put money into new know-how to enhance total operations and facilitate future development.


* Based: 1986

* CEO: David R. Parker

* Headquarters: Chattanooga

* Amenities: A number of warehouses and terminals throughout the U.S.

* Variety of staff: 5,000+

From the corporate

* Starting days: Because the step-son of Clyde Fuller, who constructed the nationwide trucking firm, Southwest Motor Freight, David Parker grew up round trucking. After his father’s enterprise was offered in 1986, Parker and his spouse, Jacqueline had a imaginative and prescient to start out their very own trucking firm. Parker made an settlement (a covenant) with God: He and Jacqueline would run the enterprise “the precise means,” if God would offer. The couple invested their hard-earned seed cash to start out Covenant Transport, with 25 vehicles and 50 trailers. They constructed Covenant’s company tradition round three faith-based values: deal with others as you need to be handled (empathy), put others earlier than your self (servanthood), and do enterprise with integrity, honesty, and equity in all conditions (advantage).

* Navigating the downturn: Covenant expects headwinds from a softer market and continued inflationary pressures. On this surroundings, the corporate focuses intensely on price financial savings to enhance its working prices. However the principle focus stays on the long run objectives, with continued investments in new tools, folks and know-how. The corporate expects much less earnings volatility than in prior intervals of financial weak spot. Covenant has labored to strategically shift its buyer base to much less cyclical industries by way of its full-service logistics focus. Even with a weak freight market, Covenant expects its money era, reasonable leverage and out there liquidity to proceed to learn shareholders.


* Based: 2014

* CEO: Jason Whitten

* Headquarters: Chattanooga

* Amenities: 7

* Variety of employees/staff: 409

From the corporate

* Starting days: KCH Transportation began as a trucking firm in Woodstock, Georgia in 2004, and finally turned a non-asset holding brokerage because of the the corporate’s overwhelming success. Within the final two years, the corporate has practically tripled in dimension, upscaling 4 places of work (Chattanooga, Nashville, Atlanta and Augusta) and opening three further places (Dallas, Tampa Bay and Phoenix).

* Navigating the downturn: KCH’s success in the course of the financial downturn is straight associated to its core imaginative and prescient — to construct partnerships within the provide chain. Fiscal accountability in early years allowed the groups to proceed rising whereas sustaining service for all prospects, large and small. The corporate will take a loss in an emergency as a way to protect the connection, figuring out the retention will deliver a return.


* Based: 1950

* CEO: Denis Reilly

* Headquarters: Chattanooga

* Amenities: Greater than 100 distribution services in 33 states

* Variety of employees/staff: 5,737

From the corporate

* Starting days: Kenco Group’s historical past started in 1950 with a single warehouse in Chattanooga with two staff — Jim Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Smartt. Although the corporate’s historical past is stuffed with evolving improvements, its biggest early achievement was when Kennedy drafted the trade’s first administration price contract warehousing settlement with DuPont in 1969. To at the present time, DuPont stays as a Kenco buyer. Since that first contract in 1969, Kenco has grown into a completely built-in logistics supplier, managing greater than 100 distribution services in 33 states. Kenco presently serves greater than 350 shoppers with various logistics wants throughout a variety of industries.

* Navigating the downturn: To assist prospects by way of financial downturns, each prior to now and as we speak, Kenco Group focuses on the deployment of steady enchancment (CI) initiatives — a proactive strategy to implementing incremental adjustments that optimize effectivity, scale back waste and enhance efficiency. By deploying CI initiatives, Kenco has pushed out greater than $100 million of waste from shoppers’ operations over the previous 10 years, and continues to ship these the identical advantages on this 12 months’s unpredictable market.


* 12 months based: 2014

* CEO: Cindy Lee

* Headquarters: Chattanooga

* Amenities: Community of 30,000+ carriers

* Variety of employees/staff: 25

From the corporate

* Starting days: LYNC was based in 2014, stemming from Cindy Lee’s need to create a greater working relationship between brokers and truck drivers. Over the previous 9 years, LYNC has stayed true to its founding rules: empowering girls in any trade, supporting staff who prioritize their households, and sustaining transparency in dealings with trucking firms. Right this moment, the Chattanooga-based firm works with greater than 30,000 carriers and serves shoppers throughout the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

* Navigating the downturn: Previous to beginning LYNC, Cindy gained expertise as vice chairman of human assets at Lee-Smith Inc., in Chattanooga. She additionally served because the president of a regional freight service. Whereas serving in these roles, she discovered the significance of constructing belief and connecting with folks within the male-dominated trucking trade. Cindy’s interactions with truck drivers taught her to pay attention and deal with them as buddies, not simply drivers.


* Based: 2009

* CEO: Andrew Ladebauche

* Headquarters: Chattanooga

* Variety of services: 9

* Variety of staff: 300

From the corporate

* Starting days: Reliance Companions industrial transportation and logistics insurance coverage firm was established in 2009, initially backed by the identical group who based Entry America Transport, together with insurance coverage skilled, Andrew Ladebauche. Reliance has crafted a formidable management group, comprised of executives from AAT and the previous Coyote Logistics. Reliance Companions has grownto a employees of greater than 300 staff, utilizing on-demand applied sciences just like the Reliance Utilization Primarily based Interface (RUBI) to seek out insurance coverage options for the trade.

* Navigating the downturn: Reliance Companions is utilizing its strategic assets and nationwide distribution capability to sort out the present downturn. Along with its deep-rooted logistics specialists, the corporate has a partnership with Carousel Capital. With 9 places of work throughout the U.S. focusing solely on trucking and logistics, Reliance works on channeling its assets, maintaining targeted on offering customer support to get by way of these difficult instances.


* Based: 2012

* CEO: Jason Provonsha

* Headquarters: Chattanooga

* Amenities: 11 places of work throughout 9 states within the Midwest and Southeast

* Variety of employees/staff: 700

From the corporate

* Starting days: Initially created because the worldwide division of Entry America, Steam Logistics started in response to buyer demand for expanded international companies. The plan was for Entry America to leverage its enterprise improvement capabilities and funnel its buyer base to gasoline the speedy development of Steam as a freight forwarder. Nonetheless, in 2014, Entry America was acquired by Coyote Logistics, leaving Steam to chart its personal course and set up itself as an impartial entity.

* Navigating the downturn: Firm leaders anticipate the trade downturn to proceed by way of this 12 months, and make a flip for the higher going into 2024. Steam is in a lucky place attributable to its multi-modal technique and may ship a much wider vary of options than most 3PLs. Because the pandemic, there was an actual shift in buyer expectations, and they’re in search of companions who can ship these expanded companies relatively than being one-dimensional. Steam is seeing this first-hand from its prospects, with cargo volumes up 50% year-to-date because of this.


* Based: 1966

* CEO: Eric Storey

* Headquarters: Henagar, Alabama

* Amenities: Chattanooga and Henagar

* Variety of employees/staff: 150

From the corporate

* Starting days: What began within the mid-Nineteen Sixties with a farmer and his potatoes, is now a multi-generational trucking firm working out of Chattanooga and Henagar, Alabama. Paul Storey began Storey Trucking with only a couple vehicles, and when his potato crop ran out, he began hauling freight. Greater than 50 years later, now with Eric Storey on the helm, Storey maintains a fleet of greater than 100 vehicles, each hauling refrigerated dry items back-and-forth from the Chattanooga space to locations throughout the western United States.

* Navigating the downturn: Storey has been driver-first because the enterprise began, emphasizing “the human aspect of logistics” to make the motive force expertise the perfect it may be. Storey is managing the downturn by caring for its drivers, working exhausting to maintain them transferring. As a substitute of constructing a number of pickups earlier than heading again to the Southeast, they’ve an area fleet who stays within the California space to maintain their groups rolling. Storey’s planning prevents their drivers from sitting for a number of days earlier than returning residence. The everyday cross-country run for Storey’s solo or group drivers is 5 to 6 days, after which they’re again at residence with their households to relaxation.


* Based: 2012

* Co-CEOs: Chris Wang and Derek Steele

* Headquarters: Chattanooga

* Amenities: Extra places of work in Birmingham, Alabama; new warehouse in Savannah, Georgia

* Variety of employees/staff: 55 throughout all places of work

From the corporate

* Starting days: Taimen was based in 2012 by Chris Wang and Derek Steele. Wang started his logistics profession with Entry America Transport, and Steele was a former contract supervisor for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The Taimen model attracts its inspiration from a legendary fish solely present in distant areas of Mongolia. Domestically known as the “river wolf,” taimen are an aggressive fish with massive tooth, notoriously identified for looking meals in packs. The “river wolves” at Taimen embody this spirit, working collectively to supply options for his or her shoppers.

* Navigating the downturn: Taimen lower its tooth within the oil and fuel trade, arranging shipments of metal pipe and tools on flatbed trailers throughout the nation. Rapidly constructing new choices for a rising buyer base, Taimen expanded into further truckload companies throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Beginning in 2017, management expanded by including a second firm – Taimen Trucklines, a standard trucking firm with 48-foot flatbeds and 53-foot dry vans. In the course of the pandemic, the corporate expanded the trucklines dry van fleet whereas including expedite and air companies to Taimen Transport. In response to rising buyer demand for drayage and storage, Taimen bought a 100,000 square-foot warehouse in Savannah, Georgia in 2022. This diversification of companies and bodily capital investments has supplied staff with new development alternatives all through the financial slowdown this 12 months.


* Based: 2013

* CEO: Heath Haley

* Headquarters: Chattanooga

* Amenities: Tennessee, Minnesota and Florida

* Variety of employees/staff: 256

From the corporate

* Starting days: Based in 2013, Trident Transport started in a studio apartment-sized workplace house the place founders Mark Harrell and Heath Haley (additionally brothers-in-law) booked their first load, incomes the primary $50 for the full-service logistics firm. Quick forwarding to as we speak, Trident has been named one of many fastest-growing firms within the nation for the final 5 years and has grown exponentially with places of work in three cities and plans to proceed growth.

* Navigating the downturn: Provide chain will all the time be a cyclical market. By remaining proactive, Trident has been capable of set face these difficult instances. The corporate’s technique on managing the downturn consists of: 1. Continueing to boost service ranges with carriers and prospects; 2. Creating an employee-focused office; 3. Investing in applied sciences to generate a extra environment friendly workflow; 4. Improve coaching alternatives; and 5. Sustaining optimistic experiences for workers, carriers and prospects. Trident believes that by holding true to core values, the corporate can proceed to thrive in any market situations.


* Based: 1986

* Headquarters: Chattanooga

* Amenities: 48 retailers, service facilities and places of work throughout the U.S.

* Variety of employees/staff: 10,885 staff

* New proprietor: Knight-Swift, the nation’s fifth largest trucking firm, is within the course of of shopping for U.S. Xpress

* Starting days: Max Fuller and Pat Quinn began U.S. Xpress in 1986 after beforehand working for Fuller’s father, Clyde Fuller, earlier than he offered Southwest Motor Freight in 1985. Beginning with simply 48 vehicles, Max Fuller and Quinn constructed U.S. Xpress into one of many nation’s largest long-haul carriers, amassing a 5,000-truck fleet within the firm’s first decade in enterprise. From its company headquarters on Jenkins Highway in East Brainerd, the corporate embraced satellite tv for pc monitoring of vehicles earlier than the vast majority of the trade; and U.S. Xpress was one of many first fleets to implement fully-automatic transmissions of their vehicles. In 2017, Max Fuller promoted his son, Eric Fuller, to CEO of U.S. Xpress, and the corporate went public and have become a stock-traded firm in 2018.

* Navigating the downturn: Shares of U.S. Xpress misplaced greater than half of their worth final 12 months after the corporate misplaced practically $40.5 million. U.S. Xpress made three rounds of employees cuts and realignment at its company headquarters prior to now 12 months, and agreed in March to merge with Knight-Swift Transportation underneath an $808 million buy provide.


* Trucking and freight industries navigate turbulent instances as historic highs give technique to painful lows

* How girls are taking the wheel and making inroads into the historically male-dominated trucking and logistics industries

Pictures courtesy of Bellhop / Bellhop CEO Luke Marklin

Pictures courtesy of Covenant Logistics / Covenant Logistics CEO David Parker

Pictures / EDGE archives / LYNC Logistics CEO Cindy Lee

Pictures courtesy of KCH Transportation / KCH Transportation CEO Jason Whitten

Pictures courtesy of Steam Logistics / Steam Logistics CEO Jason Provonsha

Pictures courtesy of Taimen Transport / Taimen Transports Derek Steele, Ryan Daniels and Chris Wang

Pictures by Matt Hamilton / Trident Transport CEO Heath Haley

Pictures courtesy of Storey Trucking / Storey Trucking CEO Eric Storey

Pictures courtesy of Avenger Logistics / Avenger Logistics President Jason Roberts

Pictures courtesy of Kenco Group / Kenco Group CEO Denis Reilly

Pictures / EDGE archives / Reliance Companions CEO Andrew Ladebauche

Pictures / EDGE archives / U.S. Xpress Enterprises CEO Eric Fuller

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