Stroke of genius



Dempsey Boyd found a forte in flatbed and turned a small start-up into a powerful nationwide fleet

Adaptation has set the tone for Clayton, Ala.-based Boyd Bros. Transportation’s success since the company launch with one truck in 1956.

Dempsey Boyd started the business as a van-hauling owner-operator, grew it into a small fleet and then had a breakthrough idea about the direction he should take. “Mr. Boyd realized there was a strong niche operation for a dedicated flatbed carrier,” says Boyd’s Steve Bredigkeit, director of owner-operator programs and facility manager in Birmingham. “We started cycling away from van trailers and committing exclusively to flatbed. That, as it turns out, has been an absolute stroke of genius. We’ve been able to set ourselves apart.”

The Birmingham, Ala., Boyd Bros. facility was hit in April 2011 by a tornado, and Steve Bredigkeit says he spent much of his time in the past year helping restore the facility. Pictured is the terminal close to its re-finished state.

More recently, the company’s been one of the first to delve into intermodal flatbed, and, Bredigkeit says, they’ve shored up the way they divide their availability to customers to help safeguard business and increase leverage. “Several years back we went through a process that we call granulation. It was a purposeful and targeted decrease of the number of trailers we commit to any one particular customer.”

Now, no customer has more than 4 percent of the carrier’s business, Bredigkeit says, and the company is flexible enough to attain new business in new areas. “Instead of having one customer in one area giving us 25 loads, we’d rather have five customers giving us five loads each.”

Boyd is still based in Clayton, but its biggest facility is in nearby Birmingham, Ala. – a full-service terminal. The company also has facilities in Cincinnati; Greenville, Miss.; and Cofield, N.C.

In addition to its 85-person owner-operator fleet, the carrier has nearly a 1-1 ratio of drivers to trucks — roughly 730 of each — and Bredigkeit says they’re planning to increase that number to 800 in 2012.

Bredigkeit says Boyd also works with drivers to help them understand how the company operates, which benefits both the company and drivers, he says. “The more informed our drivers are, the better they’re going to do. We invite them to come sit down with their fleet manager and just look over a shoulder and watch how the fleet manager does his or her job.”

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When drivers are able to go to the Clayton office, he adds, “we have them sit down with our sales folks so they can see how loads are booked and assigned to trucks.” The end result is that drivers better understand not only Boyd Bros., but the industry, he says. “It’s that kind of knowledge that I think sets our drivers apart.”

Boyd Bros. Transportation

Location: Clayton, Ala.

Founded: 1956

Primary freight: Flatbed

Number of drivers: 730 drivers; 85 owner-operators

Number of trucks: 730

Areas of operation: Nationwide