Eggs in the Basket

Fleet Insider/ Profile

Kennesaw Transportation builds strong relationships with a select few customers

By James Jaillett

Sweets have served Pat Patrick well during his 30-year tenure as founder and owner of Kennesaw Transportation.

He didn’t waste much time capitalizing on new freedoms offered by deregulation and started the then-five-truck fleet in 1981, when “Keebler and Nabisco, and some European bakeries … were the big hitters,” says Pat’s son, Chuck, Kennesaw’s VP.

Today, the company runs confections and candy on its way to Georgia from the West Coast, returning from trips carrying floor covering, running nearly all teams in its 175 tractors.

They’ve also built lanes in and out of Chicago hauling reefer. “We picked up trucks and grew the fleet with the economy and different industries as they entered north Georgia,” Chuck says. “We haven’t done any acquisitions over the years.”

The fleet calls Rydal, Ga., home, now, but when Pat broke ground, “we didn’t even have a storefront,” Chuck says. “We just operated it out of the house.”

The Patrick household address was in Kennesaw, Ga., outside of Atlanta — a fitting name for his new company, Pat thought. After picking up a few more trucks, though, the need for a terminal arose, and Pat found an affordable piece of real estate in Woodstock, Ga., not too far from his house, and opened up shop there.

They don’t contract with owner-operators, opting to do all business with company drivers — 340, to be exact. Of that number, 50 are solo drivers, and the rest work as teams to get freight out and back as quickly as possible.

The carrier and its management also choose not to diversify their business too much, a strategy that’s come under much scrutiny from other companies, Chuck says. “People think we’re out to lunch on our business strategies,” he says. “Most carriers aren’t comfortable getting more than about 10 percent of their business from one customer.”

They choose to do nearly all of their business with just a handful — Shaw Industries and Fresh Express are two of the company’s biggest clients, and “we’ve been hauling for them for 15 to 20 years,” Chuck says. “We’ve made a good living off of being good business partners. They need us just as much as we need them” is the philosophy.

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They also take a relationship-first approach with their drivers, Chuck says, and he and the other managers have an open-door policy. “We take the time to sit and talk with people so you don’t have to send an email,” he says.

The carrier’s out-and-back approach serves drivers well, too, as the runs are similar to dedicated long-haul loads. Patrick says it gives drivers planned home time, “and they still make the miles.”

They do so in style, no less: By September, every truck the company owns will be a 2012 or 2013 model.

“We turn equipment over quick so we’re not putting money into maintenance and part replacement,” he says. “We keep drivers in a newer truck that’s not having problems and that’s a good, safe, comfortable truck that keeps him on the highway and not having to stop for repair or service.”

The Truckload Carriers Association has taken notice, too, naming the fleet one of the 20 Best Fleets to Drive For in both 2010 and 2011.

Kennesaw Transport

Location: Rydal, Ga.

Founded: 1981

Primary freight: Floor covering, confections

Number of drivers: 340

Number of trucks: 175

Area of operation: Nationwide


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