Fleet Insider — Profile
A three-truck dredge company that made its way in the 1980s by pulling containers off of the rail in Greensboro, N.C., was picked up in 1987 by three partners who had the intent of changing the small company’s direction.
Best Cartage, now based in Kernersville, N.C., worked its way into the dry van segment and eventually found its niche in short haul, same day and early next day delivery.
“We do a lot of just-in-time business,” VP of Fleet Operations Roy Cox says. “That is primarily our niche.”
Some of the carrier’s biggest customers are in the corrugated box industry, and they serve a five-state area around North Carolina, including all or parts of South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia.
They currently run 132 trucks and employ 150 drivers, Cox says, and all of its growth has been “natural, and slow and steady,” though there were jumps in ’95 and ’99, both from securing large accounts in the corrugated box industry.
“In that niche market we kind of grew to be one of the premier carriers in the industry,” Cox says. “Word of mouth spread our name around. The service we provided — which takes great drivers to do — earned us more business in the same industry. It was kind of a domino effect.”
Cox says the fleet also puts an emphasis on driver experience and driver retention, and in 2010 and 2011 also Best Cartage was named one of the Truckload Carriers Association’s Best Fleets to Drive For.
Of its top perks, home time is a major player, Cox says, as drivers are home every weekend — due to the regional runs — and even some during the week. The company has a corporate chaplain, workout room and, Cox says, “a family atmosphere.”
“What I hear a lot of drivers say is they don’t feel like a number; they’re treated with respect,” Cox says. “They’re treated like people and I think that’s what they truly appreciate. Even though we’ve grown larger, there’s still definitely a family atmosphere.”
Of the three owners that bought the fleet in 1987, two have retired and sold their shares to a current single owner. Though their business took a small hit by the recession, “we were able to tighten up our expense controls, batten down the hatches a bit,” Cox says.
“We maintained the same customer base, we just had to deal with a lower volume of business,” he says. “We just stayed focused on ourselves and our expense controls and continued to take care of our customers.”
As for potential growth, Cox says the company expects year over year growth naturally, but isn’t opposed to the idea of looking for sources outside of the company.
“We are constantly seeking out opportunities internally and externally to not only grow Best Cartage, but to grow all of our business units,” he says. “Sometimes it’s hard to put a percentage on it, but we are going to take opportunities as they arise. With a new account or a small acquisition, you can grow 50 percent pretty quick.”
Location: Kernersville, N.C.
Primary Freight: Corrugated boxes
Number of Drivers: 150
Number of Trucks: 132
Area of operation: Five-state area around North Carolina