Knight Transportation drivers don't drive long hours into the night. The truckload carrier instead focuses on short- to medium-haul trips, averaging about 500 miles. From some 35 regional operations centers, mainly in the southern, midwestern, and western US, Knight carries such cargo as consumer goods, food and beverages, and paper products. It has a fleet of about 3,800 tractors and 9,000 trailers, including nearly 900 refrigerated trailers. Besides for-hire hauling, Knight provides dedicated contract carriage, in which drivers and equipment are assigned to a customer long-term. It also offers freight brokerage services. Four members of the Knight family collectively own about 30% of the company.
The US trucking industry as a whole has been in a recession since 2007 due to high fuel prices and industries cutting production. Knight's average length of haul decreased from 520 miles in 2008 to 470 miles in 2009. The company was aided, however, by the falling diesel fuel prices in late 2008, as well as company wide cost-cutting initiatives (it reduced its fleet of tractors by 59 during that time). A number of Knight's competitors also divested excess equipment, but Knight recognized that shrinking its fleet would improve its operating results only for the short-term.
After glimpsing a turnaround in the industry in the fall of 2009 -- the company's loads began to increase -- Knight began looking at a more long-term picture, seeing 2010 as a turnaround for the truckload freight market. The company was able to grow revenues in 2010 due in part by increasng its average revenue per total mile by nearly 4% and by cutting non-paid empty miles by about 10%.Willing to give up some of its profit, Knight purchased 370 Volvo tractors in February, readying itself for the opportunity to grow its business.
With 18 wheels of optimism, the company is pushing ahead to expand into new geographic regions by opening new service centers. These regional service centers are linked to Knight's corporate computer system, which provides detailed information regarding equipment, shipment status, and customer requirements. The company believes its regional structure helps the company control costs and not be as susceptible to regional economic downturns. The regional system also serves as an aid in recruiting drivers, because it gives them more time at home.
Four Knight cousins -- Kevin, Gary, Keith, and Randy -- started the company in 1990. – less