Among OOIDA’s members, average fleet size tends to remain constant, Siebert says, staying at 1.4 or 1.5 trucks for at least six years.
Overdrive surveys of owner-operators find more correlation between fleet size and the overall market. When the last trucking boom ended in 2001, the average size of owner-operator businesses was 1.78 trucks. That dropped for the next two years to 1.53 as many owner-operators went back to one truck, became company drivers or left trucking altogether. The number picked up with the economic rebound in 2004 and will continue to grow as long as freight stays strong, Brady says.
“This business will still be dominated by single-unit owner-operators,” he says. “Some of them are going to become multi-unit. They’ll purchase another truck or two. Some of the multi-units will add a few more, and will no longer be owner-operators. They’ll be small fleets, and the guy will get out of driving.”