Canada’s 100 largest trucking companies are once again growing their fleets, albeit not as aggressively as during past economic recoveries. Our ninth annual Top Tier report which offers a comprehensive look at the capacity of the...
Canada’s 100 largest trucking companies are once again growing their fleets, albeit not as aggressively as during past economic recoveries. Our ninth annual Top Tier report which offers a comprehensive look at the capacity of the nation’s largest for-hire carriers, found an almost 8% increase in the number of tractors operated by Canada’s largest for-hire carriers, rising to a total of 47,854 vehicles from the 44,337 reported the previous year.
Class 8 sales in Canada have been growing every year since their precipitous drop in 2009 but, as noted in this space last year, these sales were best attributed to pent-up demand to renew aging vehicles rather than a willingness among fleet executives to significantly grow their fleet size. And in fact, Class 8 truck sales in 2013 will show their first drop since 2009.
In recent years our research has also shown a great divide when it comes to purchasing new trucks and this continues into 2014. The interim results from our annual Transportation Buying Trends Survey, conducted in partnership with CITA, CITT and Cormark Securities, shows that Canada’s larger carriers (fleets with 100 or more vehicles) are significantly more optimistic than their small carrier counterparts (fleets with less than 10 trucks) when it comes to freight volume growth, improved rates, and business optimism. For example, 67% of large carriers responding to our survey so far see freight volumes growing in 2014 compared to just 37% of small carriers who think likewise. Just as significantly, 56% of large carriers expect to raise their rates in 2014 compared to just 37% of small carriers. The average business optimism for 2014 among large carriers is 6.78 (on a scale of 1 to 10) compared to just 5.50 for smaller carriers. It comes as no surprise that large carriers are far more likely to be purchasing new trucks than smaller carriers. So far our survey has found 56% of large carriers plan to purchase new tractors in 2014 compared to just 21% of small carriers.
Aside from the distinct differences in tractor purchasing plans between Canada’s largest and smallest carriers, the other major trend certain to impact the face of Canada’s trucking industry is the recently renewed vigour of mergers and acquisitions activity. Large deals such as Transforce’s purchase of Clarke and Vitran’s Canadian operations, Vespeeten’s bid for Moe’s and Celadon’s purchase of Yanke have dominated the headlines in the last few months.
We expect the company names that appear in our Top Tier report to show significant changes over the years to come.
This comprehensive guide is not intended as a mere tally of vehicle counts. In fact, we have chosen not to list the top 100 carriers by size. The top 100 carriers are listed in alphabetical order because we believe that after a certain threshold, optimum fleet size is a reflection of the different markets these fleets are meant to serve.
I would also like to thank the sponsors of our Top Tier report, Peoplenet Communications, Mack Canada and Castrol who continue with their support. Their involvement is instrumental in helping us deliver such a comprehensive report.
We hope our report serves as a tool not only for the largest carriers to keep tabs on their competitors but also as a tool for the smaller and medium-sized fleets to contrast their buying strategies with the industry’s largest and gain a fuller understanding of industry issues as they rebuild their companies.