It’s been three weeks since the closure of the nation’s third-largest less-than-truckload carrier, Yellow, and the impact is still being felt across the industry.
Kent Williams, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Averitt Express, a Tennessee-based transportation provider, estimates that Averitt alone has seen an additional 2,000 daily shipments since Yellow ceased operations.
When major carriers shutter, additional volume enters the market while capacity leaves it. For carriers that are already working at maximum utilization, this newfound demand for their services may be hard to keep up with.
“I think some carriers do tend to screw themselves down too tight. So when they get a surge of business like we’ve gotten, it can strain [their] network and we start to see service challenges,” Williams said.
Because of the excess capacity already present in the market, however, he believes the sudden surge of shipments brought about by Yellow’s closure has helped to move the balance between capacity and volume closer toward equilibrium.
Since the surge of shipments following Yellow’s closure, Averitt has focused on serving its current customers while also welcoming new business.
“Our network has remained fluid, we’re current, we’re not missing any pickups, and we’re getting the job done,” Williams said.
When it comes to LTL, Williams said the rest of the year and heading into peak season will be all-hands-on-deck. While he expects raw commerce volumes to be relatively muted this peak season, he remains optimistic the truckload side of the industry will see business pick up.
“I think there are opportunities there for forward-thinking carriers to get out there and differentiate yourself with providing the best service in the business [so] that you can kind of create your own peak, if you will,” Williams elaborated.
Averitt’s resiliency in the face of surprises such as weather events, economic surges, peak season or other carriers going out of business is a result of its built-in flexibility. Leveraging its five verticals, the company has the ability to divert drivers and assets when necessary in order to continue to serve customers.
Averitt’s strong commitment to its customers and associates stems from its small-town roots and caring culture. This is evident in its treatment of its drivers.
The company’s goal is to bring home as many drivers as possible every night, and Williams said many regional drivers are home multiple times during the week. Weekly home time is something Averitt is fully committed to.
“We’re very driver-centric, and we’re going to keep doing all we can to do that,” Williams said.
This people-first culture has not only attracted but helped retain associates. That is true in one of Averitt’s proudest statistic: Approximately 17% of its nearly 10,000 associates have been with the company 20 years or more.
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