Filling your network with reliable trucking companies, though important to your long-term success, has never been simple. There are hundreds of thousands of truckload carriers in the U.S. alone, each claiming to do its job better than the field.
With so many options, it’s not unusual for shippers to feel overwhelmed and wary of which companies to work with. All you’re looking for is a transportation service provider, worth its salt, that can meet your needs and assist you toward your goals.
But, alas, this is easier said than done in such an oversaturated industry.
Which providers will ensure your demands are met consistently and without fail?
How can you know, pre-emptively, whether the provider you choose has the infrastructure and expertise needed to become a seamless extension of your supply chain?
Answering these questions is crucial to ending your transportation provider search on the right note; with a well-chosen carrier (or two) in your corner.
Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we’ve been helping companies, like yours, move their full-truckload van freight since 1983. After nearly 50 years in this space, we know which companies provide enclosed truckload services at the highest level.
Although we take pride in helping companies secure capacity with confidence and follow through on their customer commitments, we also acknowledge there are other options out there — and some pretty good ones at that.
So, as you strive to create a transportation network of carriers you can count on, you may want to consider the largest in the business.
Based on their truck and trailer count and the revenue numbers reported by Transport Topics, these are companies that provide enclosed truckload services at the highest level — boasting the biggest fleets of enclosed trailers in North America.
In this article you’ll find:
- A list of the 10 largest truckload van carriers in 2023
- 5 keys to choosing the right dry van carrier for your business
While selecting great carriers is never easy, we hope this article helps you feel more comfortable making these decisions in the future. Your supply chain and customer relationships should never suffer due to poor carrier performance. And, with the right one, they never will.
Note: These companies are ordered based on asset count.
10 Largest Truckload Van Carriers in 2023
- Knight-Swift Transportation
- TFI International
- J.B. Hunt
- Werner Enterprises
- U.S. Xpress Enterprises
- CRST International Inc.
- Prime Inc.
- C.R. England
- Founded Date: 1990
- Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona
- Truck Count: 19,000*
- Trailer Count: 58,000*
- Revenue 2022: $6.00 Billion ($4.673 Billion in 2021)
*According to Knight-Swift’s website
- Founded Date: 1957
- Headquarters: Montreal, Canada
- Truck Count: 22,812**
- Trailer Count: 50,091**
- Revenue 2022: $7.220 Billion ($6.347 Billion in 2021)
- Founded Date: 1961
- Headquarters: Lowell, Arkansas
- Truck Count: 18,617**
- Trailer Count: 39,994**
- Revenue 2022: $12.168 Billion ($9.64 Billion in 2021)
- Founded Date: 1976
- Headquarters: Green Bay, Wisconsin
- Truck Count: 9,000*
- Trailer Count: 36,700*
- Revenue 2022: $5.600 Billion ($4.552 Billion in 2021)
*According to Schneider’s website
- Founded Date: 1956
- Headquarters: Omaha, Nebraska
- Truck Count: 8,000*
- Trailer Count: 24,000*
- Revenue 2022: $2.734 Billion ($2.372 Billion in 2021)
*According to Werner’s website
U.S. Xpress Enterprises
- Founded Date: 1986
- Headquarters: Chatanooga, Tennessee
- Truck Count: 6,400**
- Trailer Count: 13,600**
- Revenue 2022: $1.949 Billion ($1.742 Billion in 2021)
CRST International Inc.
- Founded Date: 1955
- Headquarters: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
- Truck Count: 4,894**
- Trailer Count: 14,289**
- Revenue 2022: $1.800 Billion ($1.502 Billion in 2021)
- Founded Date: 1932
- Headquarters: Camden, New Jersey
- Truck Count: 5,170*
- Trailer Count: 13,275*
- Revenue 2022: $3.100 Billion ($2.630 Billion in 2021)
*According to NFI’s website
- Founded Date: 1970
- Headquarters: Springfield, Missouri
- Truck Count: 6,500+*
- Trailer Count: 11,700+*
- Revenue 2022: $2.408 Billion ($2.208 Billion)
*According to Prime’s website
C.R. England Inc.
- Founded Date: 1920
- Headquarters: Salt Lake City, Utah
- Truck Count: 3,833**
- Trailer Count: 5,897**
- Revenue 2022: $1.644 Billion ($1.502 Billion in 2021)
**According to Transport Topic’s for-hire carrier statistics
How to Choose the Right Full-Truckload Van Carrier For Your Business
Now that you have a list of the 10 largest enclosed-trailer transportation providers in North America — in terms of truck and trailer count — let’s address the elephant in the room: how should you go about choosing a carrier?
Whether you choose a trucking company from this list or one of the many others available to you, your methods for selecting a carrier won’t change.
Here are five keys to success when selecting your next truckload carrier:
- Consider your freight spend and volumes
- Inquire about their customer relations processes
- Verify their infrastructure and areas of strength
- Make sure they have experience moving your commodities
- Ask about their ability to source capacity externally
1) Consider Your Freight Spend and Volumes
The companies listed above lead the transportation industry in size. These carriers have made significant investments in their infrastructure; expanding their fleets and increasing their driver counts each year.
The cost of managing a trucking company of this size is high. Among others, purchasing/maintaining trucks and equipment, holding adequate insurance and paying truck driver salaries are unavoidable expenses carriers incur.
Expenses like these only increase as a trucking company grows, changing the overall cost structure of running one profitably.
For this reason, it’s imperative that large carriers — like those listed above — consistently utilize their assets. Like a car rental company, trucking companies only make money by “renting” out their assets.
Utilization rate, or the percentage of their overall fleet that is booked out at a given time, is a metric carriers use to track this — larger companies are especially vigilant.
As a result, it’s common for large carriers — with massive fleets of assets — to prioritize high-volume shippers. These shippers can guarantee their carriers work (often doled out contractually) over an extended period, thereby limiting the odds that their equipment sits unused.
Additionally, partnerships with businesses that move high freight volumes on an ongoing basis fit large carriers’ operating networks — giving them opportunities to reliably make money for a long time.
The same can not be said for shippers in need of less attention and service. As such, it’s crucial that you consider your freight volumes and (projected) monthly/yearly spending.
Are you sending freight frequently enough to entice large carriers to prioritize your business?
Will you be left in the lurch when a bigger shipper comes along?
Is it possible that a small/mid-sized carrier would fit your business better?
All of these are important questions to ask when selecting your next carrier. So, don’t be afraid to pose questions to the carriers you vet.
Ask them what their ideal customer is and whether your needs match them. If they do, verify what kind of service they can guarantee for a company like yours.
At the end of the day, you’re going to need a reliable transportation provider that puts your business needs first. Unfortunately, huge carriers don’t always prioritize the needs of low(er) volume shippers.
2) Inquire About Their Customer Relations Processes
Transportation services can be offered in a number of ways. Freight brokers work as a third party, connecting shippers with a solution in their area. Trucking companies manage their own trucks, trailers and drivers, scheduling them out as efficiently as possible.
No matter what type of provider you utilize, the way your business is handled from your first load to the last can make or break your experience as a customer.
As you’re making your carrier selection decisions, be sure to ask each trucking company about how your freight will be handled.
- Will you have a single point of contact or multiple people to work with?
- What are their invoicing procedures?
- Do they have a local brick-and-mortar location that you could form a relationship with if need be?
- How many people will be working on your shipments? Do they have teams of professionals handling each load or a single person?
Depending on how each carrier answers these questions — and your preferences — your decision to work with them may change. For example, if you really enjoy the convenience of having one point of contact, but this trucking company doesn’t offer them, you may want to choose someone else.
All told, to make the right trucking company selection decision, you’ll want to ensure this fit is right from the beginning. Making this discernment starts with understanding a provider’s customer handling/relationship processes.
3) Verify Their Infrastructure and Areas of Strength
Where infrastructure is concerned, you'll want to ensure each carrier you use has a localized presence where you need it. At different times of the year, seasonality changes things in many areas of the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Does this carrier understand how seasonality changes in your area(s)? What kind of capacity can they provide you during these strenuous periods?
Ask them about where their closest trailer yards and terminals are to your origin. Do they have plenty of drivers located in your area?
Most importantly, does their current network of customer relationships align with your lane/route requirements (does it make sense, financially, for that carrier to add your business to their docket)?
These pieces of their infrastructure help them ensure sound service. Without nearby facilities, customers to turn to for backhaul freight out of your destination or nearby domiciled drivers to handle your cargo, your service levels may falter as meeting your needs gets more difficult.
As such, it is crucial to make sure each carrier has all of the pieces in place to seamlessly add your company to their customer base.
4) Make Sure They Have Experience Moving Your Commodities
There are hundreds of industries in North America and many of them use enclosed van semi-trucks to move products. Hazmat and tanker-endorsed freight, food and beverage products, manufacturing materials, household goods and general retail commodities (to name a few) travel U.S. roadways in dry van and reefer trailers.
This amount of variance (from one product category to another) means it is impossible for one trucking company to do it all. Sure, the carriers listed in this article are huge, with a presence in most, if not all, regions of North America. These carriers do not, however, have experience moving all kinds of cargo, in all kinds of weather throughout every area of the continent.
For this reason, it’s important that you consider each carrier’s strengths and their history of moving your kind of goods.
Inquire about how familiar they are moving your type of cargo. Ask them how long they’ve been doing so and what steps they take to keep drivers trained on proper handling and securement procedures.
Have they moved this kind of freight around your region before?
Do they have experience hauling shipments to your destinations — be it a dock, job site, school, medical center, manufacturer or distribution center?
You’ll want to be comfortable with how they answer these questions.
5) Ask About Their Ability to Source Capacity Externally
In an industry like yours — where securing a timely solution can mean the difference between successfully fulfilling your supply chain and significant delays — working with carriers that can provide coverage through multiple channels can be really impactful.
Even if your carrier has an expansive fleet of trucks and trailers, like those listed above, strictly asset-based providers (which don’t have brokerage authority) still have finite resources available. As a result, it can be challenging to secure capacity with these carriers when demand in your area surges during a peak season or the supply of on-duty drivers shrinks over a national holiday.
In these situations, it’s valuable to work with versatile providers. Carriers that have well-established relationships with other companies and/or have a brokerage authority to lean on are often more reliable during trying times.
You’ll want to keep this in mind when selecting your next van carrier. Make sure to ask them about their outsourcing abilities. Do they have a network of sister companies to work with when needed? Do they maintain brokerage authority and have a network of trusted partner carriers to source capacity from?
If so, inquire about their carrier-vetting procedures and the things they take into account when adding companies to this network.
At the end of the day, your carrier is only as good as the partnership it holds and its ability to come through for you. Make sure their capabilities stretch beyond their asset fleet.
Use This Tool To Vet Full-Truckload Carriers Precisely
Now that you have this list of the 10 largest full truckload carriers to consider in 2023, and have some things to consider when choosing yours, let’s take this conversation a step further.
Leaving your freight in the hands of an unfit company can be detrimental to your budget, supply chain and customer relationships long term.
So, the more steps you take to avoid this going forward, the better off you’ll be.
To help you select great carriers in the future, we've developed a 30-question Carrier Selection Checklist that can be downloaded for free today.
This comprehensive checklist for selecting a carrier has helped many shippers navigate this territory in the past and will do the same for you in the future.
Here at ATS, our vans division diligently works to offer industry-leading service — an accolade we're proud to carry. However, we're not the right fit for every company.
In the interest of transparency, here's what you should think about when considering ATS for your next load. . .
You should consider ATS if you're looking for a carrier that:
- Has a fleet of more than 600 trucks and 1,400 trailers
- Is best at servicing lanes east of the Mississippi River
- Offers dry van service to businesses across industries, including:
- Retail, paper, furniture, food and beverage, manufacturing
- Does not own any refrigerated trailers
- Has a large network of sister companies to lean on for additional capacity where needed
- Offers ramps, side-doors and cranes on its trailers to help with loading/offloading
- Offers pad/blanket wrap services, white-glove service and trailer tracking technologies.
- Centralized operations with sales customer service, planning and fleet management constantly collaborating.
- Has regional operations and openly communicates driver domiciles.
If these things leave you wondering whether a carrier like ATS would fit your supply chain, please don't hesitate to reach out. We’d love to show you how a great provider goes out of its way to make a difference for its customers.