Home is where the heart is, and Heartland Express stays close to home as a short- to medium-haul truckload carrier -- its average trip is just over 500 miles. With the exception of traffic from its Phoenix hub, the company mainly operates east of the Rockies; it also offers service in the southwestern US. Although most of its loads go directly from origin to destination, Heartland also operates from about 10 regional distribution hubs, which are located near major customers. The company regional hubs focus on short-haul freight movements (less than 500 miles). Heartland transports general commodities, including appliances, auto parts, consumer products, food, and paper products.
Heartland parlayed an increase in freight demand in late 2010 into an 8% increase in revenues compared to 2009. For the year, the company's profits increased just over 9% and net income (the company's income after adding total revenue and gains and subtracting all expenses and losses) was up about 9% as well.
The company's fleet of tractors is about two-years-old, and the average trailer is about five-years old. Heartland keeps costs down by utilizing a uniform feet of vehicles that follow a standardized maintenance schedule. The company also employs independent contractors, who own their own vehicles and are responsible for all upkeep costs.
To combat the volatility of fuel costs, Heartland purchases over-the-road fuel at negotiated price discounts through a network of fuel stops throughout the US. The company also has bulk fuel sites at 12 Heartland-owned facilities and service centers. Additional fuel saving procedures includes reducing tractor idle time and controlling out-of-route miles (additional/non-billable miles).
In conjunction with its focus on short- to medium-haul transportation, Heartland tries to attract customers who are more time-sensitive than price-sensitive and thus will pay higher rates. The company aims to grow by attracting more business within its existing service territory, but it has indicated it will consider acquisitions.
Founder and CEO Russell Gerdin and his family own about 40% of the company. Son Michael Gerdin was promoted from VP to president of Heartland in 2006. – less