Overdrive Extra

Max Heine

Flatbed operators prospering as economy rebounds

| November 17, 2017

Flatbed operators are having a great year, based on year-to-date financial reports from owner-operator financial services provider ATBS.

From January through September, flatbedder clients of ATBS had net income of $51,602. Even though miles driven did not change much during the first three quarters, net income per mile rose dramatically each quarter, indicating rapidly rising rates: 67.3 cents per mile, 74.7 cpm and 81.7 cpm.

At this year’s pace, flatbed owner-operators will easily surpass $60,000 in net income for the year.

“Flatbed usually leads us out of a recession,” says Todd Amen, ATBS president and CEO. “With a couple slow freight years behind us, it seems like industrial goods, auto, homes, etc., are all booming and that leads to flatbed freight.”

At this year’s pace, flatbed owner-operators will easily surpass $60,000 in net income for the year. All owner-operators tracked by ATBS averaged close to $60,000 in 2015 and 2016.

Discussing the industry’s rising rates and strong freight outlook, Eric Starks, CEO and chairman of FTR Associates, this week cited various segments, some of which rely heavily on open-deck shipping. Speaking at the CCJ Solutions Summit in Palm Springs, Calif., he noted a rise in housing starts, a strengthening manufacturing sector, a drop in the inventory-to-sales ratio, growing retail sales, record levels of imports and a sudden demand for cars following the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida.

In other owner-operator categories tracked by ATBS, reefer haulers have fared the worst, earning $36,585 over nine months. Dry van operators earned $45,338. Independents in all niches earned $44,274.

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