Heavy haul shipments are some of the most complex loads to move. Although the definition of “heavy haul” varies between companies many aspects of these shipments remain the same.
For example, most “heavy haul” shipments will require permitting and route planning, a specialized semi-trailer, a heavy haul truck, an experienced driver and a thorough plan of attack.
Handing your heavy haul shipment to an underprepared or unreliable trucking company will make a serious impact on your business; in the worst cases causing your shipments to fail, customers to question your ability and freight spending to get out of hand.
This is especially the case when it comes to your “super” loads.
With so much at stake for your business, and so many stakeholders depending on the competence of your transportation provider, you can’t afford to make a wrong choice here.
Unfortunately, without the right tools, that is exactly what shippers experience.
Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we’re proud to offer industry-leading heavy haul trucking services that meet the needs of many companies. Since 1976 (when we first began offering heavy haul service) ATS has made significant investments in our safety, permitting, securement and driver-training teams to ensure the success of each shipment we cover.
However, we also recognize that we are not the only company to offer heavy haul service at a high level. You deserve to leave your heavy haul freight in competent hands — even if ATS is not your carrier of choice.
There are a lot of heavy haul carriers in the U.S., this article will narrow them down for you by listing 10 of the largest. These are companies that, year after year, continue to rank among the biggest in the business — in terms of the total payload capacity and size of their specialized/heavy haul fleet.
While this is by no means a comprehensive list of the greatest heavy haul carriers, these are the companies that, based on their fleet composition and size have the ability to cover your heavy haul needs at a high level.
Top 10 Heavy Haul Trucking Companies in 2023
- Landstar Transportation Logistics
- Daseke Inc.
- Mammoet North America
- Barnhart Crane & Rigging
- Maxim Crane Works
- Bennett Motor Express
- Sterett Heavy Hauling
- Emmert International
- Deep South Crane and Rigging
- Combined Transport Inc.
Here are some of the key facts you should know about each of these top heavy haul freight carriers.
Landstar System Inc.
Year founded: 1968
Headquarters: Jacksonville, Florida
Total Payload Capacity in U.S. Tons (2022)**: 75,905
Number of modular/hydraulic trailers (2022)**: 26
Number of multi-axle specialized trailers (2022)**: 2,850
Applicable assets*: Landstar has a wide variety of heavy haul and specialized equipment including but not limited to Schnabels, RGN units, perimeter trailers, beam trailers, double-drop trailers and step-deck trailers.
* According to Landstar System’s website
Year founded: 2008
Headquarters: Addison, Texas
Total Payload Capacity in U.S. Tons (2022)**: 87,469
Number of modular/hydraulic trailers (2022)**: 194
Number of multi-axle specialized trailers (2022)**: 3,787
Applicable assets*: Daseke Inc. is a full-service specialized open-deck and heavy-haul transportation provider. Though Daseke Inc. owns many subsidiary companies, Lone Star Transportation is its largest heavy haul provider with more than 1,500 trailers and 500 drivers.
* According to Daseke Inc.’s website
Mammoet North America
Year Established in U.S.: 1989
U.S. Headquarters: Rosharon, Texas
Total Payload Capacity in U.S. Tons (2022)**: 83,263
Number of modular/hydraulic trailers (2022)**: 479
Number of multi-axle specialized trailers (2022)**: 320
Applicable assets*: Based in the Netherlands, Mammoet’s North American operations offer a variety of services to parties in the heavy transport business. Mammoet owns and maintains a modern fleet of modular and hydraulic trailers for heavy-haul transportation projects of all sizes.
*According to Mammoet’s Website
Barnhart Crane and Rigging
Year Established: 1969
U.S. Headquarters: Memphis, Tennessee
Total Payload Capacity in U.S. Tons (2022)**: 69,031
Number of modular/hydraulic trailers (2022)**: 136
Number of multi-axle specialized trailers (2022)**: 785
Applicable assets*: Barnhart has a vast fleet of heavy equipment trailers to assist with the movement of super loads across the U.S. Barnhart’s fleet includes dual lane trailers, platform trailers and self-propelled modular transports.
*According to Barnhart’s Website
Maxim Crane Works
Year Established: 2004
U.S. Headquarters: Bridgeville, Pennsylvania
Total Payload Capacity in U.S. Tons (2022)**: 50,606
Number of modular/hydraulic trailers (2022)**: 136
Number of multi-axle specialized trailers (2022)**: 654
Applicable assets*: Maxim offers a multitude of heavy haul solutions through the utilization of their modular, 13-axle and dual-lane trailers.
*According to Maxim’s website
Bennett Motor Express
Year Established: 1974
U.S. Headquarters: McDonough, Georgia
Total Payload Capacity in U.S. Tons (2022)**: 49,995
Number of modular/hydraulic trailers (2022)**: 137
Number of multi-axle specialized trailers (2022)**: 1,062
Applicable assets*: Bennet has a range of trailers capable of hauling loads ranging between 37,000 pounds (3-axle stretch double drop trailers) and 200,000 pounds (19-axle trailers). Along with other trailer types, Bennet’s fleet includes spread-axle flatbed and step-decks, 4-axle RGNs, 4-axle step decks and 3-axle stretch double drops.
*According to Bennet’s website
Sterett Heavy Hauling
Year Established: 2004
U.S. Headquarters: Owensboro, Kentucky
Total Payload Capacity in U.S. Tons (2022)**: 46,730
Number of modular/hydraulic trailers (2022)**: 372
Number of multi-axle specialized trailers (2022)**: 433
Applicable assets*: Based in the Midwest, Sterett’s fleet consists of dual-lane and platform trailers for super-load moves and a segment of flatbed and open-deck trailers for smaller hauls.
*According to Sterret’s website
Year Established: 1968
U.S. Headquarters: Clackamas, Oregon
Total Payload Capacity in U.S. Tons (2022)**: 39,822
Number of modular/hydraulic trailers (2022)**: 587
Number of multi-axle specialized trailers (2022)**: 121
Applicable assets*: On their equipment page, Emmert lists the following items: Hydraulic platform trailers; over-the-road trucks; transportation dollies.
*According to Emmert’s website
Deep South Crane and Rigging
Year Established: 1968
U.S. Headquarters: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Total Payload Capacity in U.S. Tons (2022)**: 35,248
Number of modular/hydraulic trailers (2022)**: 372
Number of multi-axle specialized trailers (2022)**: 496
Applicable assets*: Deep South has a fleet consisting of lowboy, drop-deck, extendable step and double-drop trailers, 4+-axle lowboys as well as a mix of self-propelled trailers and a dual-lane trailer.
*According to Deep South’s website
Combined Transport Inc.
Year Established: 1980
U.S. Headquarters: Central Point, Oregon
Total Payload Capacity in U.S. Tons (2021)**: 6,455
Number of modular/hydraulic trailers (2021)**: 385
Number of multi-axle specialized trailers (2021)*: 281
Applicable assets*: Heavy haul transportation is the fastest-growing portion of Combined’s business — according to their website. To offer these services, Combined has multi-axle RGNs, Schnables (for wind moves) and other specialty lowboy trailers.
* According to Combined Transport’s website
** According to American Cranes & Transport
4 Tips For Choosing Your Heavy Haul Provider
These companies move a lot of heavy haul freight. While the largest of them have nationwide reach and coverage, many don’t. Beyond this, the level of service you receive will change between companies.
For this reason, simply listing 10 of the largest heavy haul transportation providers in the U.S. doesn’t really do you much good.
Instead, it’s important that you measure your own needs and select accordingly.
Though they made this list, not every carrier above is guaranteed to meet your unique needs.
We’re willing to bet there are plenty of companies outside of these 10 that would actually fit you best.
As such, let’s talk about the most important things to keep in mind and consider when selecting a heavy haul transportation company. Regardless of size and revenue numbers, here is how you should vet heavy haul carriers:
- Vet heavy haul carriers on their core strengths and infrastructure
- Vet heavy haul carriers on their safety practices
- Vet heavy haul carriers on their reliability and experience
- Vet heavy haul carriers on their pricing
Vet Heavy Haul Carriers For Core Strengths and Infrastructure
Even the best heavy haul carriers in the business have a finite list of competencies. With so many different types of heavy haul cargo — from wind blades to generators and everything in between — no single company does everything well.
Many heavy haul carriers are great at managing specific kinds of freight moves. For this reason, you will want to ensure the carrier you utilize has the strengths you need.
Among other things, make sure to ask prospective carriers about their top-end capabilities and the types of commodities they move most frequently. Do they have assets capable of hauling your shipment? Have they moved your type of cargo before?
Both of these are crucial questions. If, for example, a heavy haul carrier can’t match your freight to its appropriate solution, or doesn’t have the experience your freight deserves, it is best to move along to someone else.
In addition to their core strengths, a heavy haul carrier’s locational infrastructure is also important to consider. Does this carrier have trailer yards near your freight’s origin? This could be important for on-time performance and efficiency long term.
Perhaps more importantly, make sure to choose heavy haul companies that have in-house resources to oversee your start-to-finish heavy haul moves. These resources should include safety teams, permitting departments, driver training professionals and project planners specializing in heavy haul moves.
The best companies have a team of transportation professionals dedicated to each heavy haul load. Search for a carrier that offers a robust customer portal and a single point of contact. These will help you communicate expectations to your customers and remain well informed throughout each project.
Vet Heavy Haul Carriers on Their Safety Practices
Heavy haul shipments — particularly those involving “super” loads (a specialty of many of the companies on this list) — are dangerous. In fact, we’d venture to classify these shipments as the most dangerous on earth.
Often, executing these loads safely takes refinement at all stages of the process.
Truck drivers must have the proper training and experience, operations employees and planners must have the right skill set and take the correct precautions. From start to finish the largest heavy haul shipments can take weeks to complete.
Failing to plan correctly upfront (by informing authorities, conducting surveys, contracting safety services and clearing the route) can have major implications for all parties involved.
As such, safety should be your first priority when vetting a heavy haul carrier.
Here are some questions that you’ll want to make sure to ask:
- Do you have a driver class and qualification system to make sure drivers are capable of hauling heavy haul freight?
- What processes do you have in place to ensure the safe transport of my freight?
- What is the average age of your equipment and how often do you perform maintenance?
- What safety programs and teams does your company have in place?
If, for any reason, you feel uncomfortable with the way a carrier responds to these questions, move along. These shipments are too complex and dangerous to settle for anything less than the best.
Vet Heavy Haul Carriers on Their Reliability and Experience
Experience is key to the success of any shipment. Heavy haul freight moves just require more of it. You see, some of the intricacies accompanying heavy haul shipping can only be learned with time; through trial, error and continuous improvement.
Luckily, the best heavy haul carriers have experience in all corners of their organization. From the top down, your next heavy haul carrier should have in-house experts at all levels, each dedicated to solving a unique set of problems. Their internal experts should include drivers, customer service representatives, fleet managers, permitting professionals and partner escort/pilot car service providers — to name a few.
Carriers that move heavy haul freight at the highest level don’t struggle to meet the commitments they make. Instead, great providers plan well, make timely adjustments where needed and come through on their commitments.
To ensure your experience is top-notch — and your freight gets where it needs to go on time and in one piece — inquire about each prospective provider’s experience.
Ask questions like:
- How do you make sure shipments deliver on time?
- What is your protocol when something goes wrong?
- What kind of after-hours support do you offer?
- Do you have the ability to oversee my shipment all the way through in-house?
Every carrier worth its salt will have well-prepared answers for these, and questions like these. And, the better you understand the level of competency each carrier can provide, the better suited you’ll be to make the right decision.
Another way to get reliability information is by asking carriers for a list of references to contact. Reach out to these companies — companies that move cargo similar to yours — and ask what their experience was like working with “carrier ______.”
These companies don’t have any reason to mislead you, making them a great resource to utilize.
Vet Heavy Haul Carriers On Their Pricing
Most heavy haul freight is moved on the spot market, where prices are calculated situationally. For this reason, it is usually prudent to receive quotes from multiple carriers per load.
Doing so allows companies, like yours, to ensure each carrier’s rates are competitive; accurately reflecting the cost of securing service.
Without weighing multiple quotes against each other, you could end up significantly overpaying or underpaying for heavy haul service. Both ends of this spectrum will negatively impact your business. Be wary of outliers when fielding heavy haul rates and always ask carriers how they formulated your pricing.
Here are some of the more pressing things to address during pricing conversations:
- What type of trailer are your quoting my freight on?
- What are my options and why?
- How much lead time will you need, prior to loading and why?
- How will this impact my rates?
- What does this quote include?
- Are escorts, permits, utility trucks, etc. included? If not, what is the upcharge for these services?
- How are my cargo’s dimensions impacting my rate?
Drilling into a heavy haul company’s rates, and having these honest conversations, will increase your ability to make a sound selection decision.
Our best advice — where vetting based on pricing is concerned — is to steer clear of carriers that quote your load at a rate that’s too good to be true. At the end of the day, the price you’re quoted should be backed by confidence, expertise and the ability to stick to them. Great heavy haul providers can easily articulate where your rates are coming from and why.
Related Content: What Does Heavy Haul Trucking Cost?
Use This Tool to Help You Select Heavy Haul Carriers
With this list of the top 10 heavy haul trucking companies in 2023 and the four key things to consider when vetting them, we hope you feel more comfortable now.
Leaving your freight in the hands of a shoddy heavy haul carrier can be damaging to your budget, reputation and customer relationships.
The more steps you take to avoid this in the selection stage of your journey, the better off you’ll be.
To help you avoid choosing a company that simply won’t fit your needs, we've developed a 36-question Heavy Haul Carrier Selection Checklist.
Download this comprehensive checklist today. It has helped many shippers navigate this decision in the past and will do the same for you in the future.
Here at ATS, we’re proud to say our heavy haul team consistently ranks among the best in the nation.
But, 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 as long as you're looking for a heavy haul transportation provider that:
- Offers nearly 1,000 tractors dedicated to flatbed and heavy haul trucking
- Has in-house permitting, safety and securement teams
- Prioritizes service quality and reliability — but not always the lowest price
- Thoroughly vets and trains every individual working on our customer’s shipments
- Strives to be an industry leader in technology utilization and customer experience
If these things intrigue you and 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 can make a difference for its customers.