Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Manufacturers Are Benefiting from Trucking Industry Growth and Reduced Shipping Costs

The trucking industry is on a growth trajectory that is predicted to continue at least through 2022, according to the American Trucking Association (ATA). In addition, reduced fuel prices are leading to more flexible, affordable shipping options.

The U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast compiled by the ATA says that, in 2010, the trucking sector accounted for 81% of total revenue and 67% of tonnage for transportation companies. The forecast suggested that overall revenue for the industry will rise nearly 66% and tonnage will increase 24% by 2022, according to

The New York Times recently reported growth in trucking as a result of declining fuel costs and greater efficiencies in the industry. These benefits, coupled with an improved economy, increased consumer spending and greater factory output, which are, in turn, increasing demand for truck freight.

“When trucks use less fuel, shipping costs go down.”

In the months ahead, the current reduction in fuel prices may lead to more flexible shipping options, such as less than truckload (LTL) vs. full truckload (FTL) shipments, preferred by some manufacturers, but largely unavailable in recent years, as shippers and manufacturers did all they could to keep trucks full and, conversely, keep prices down.

Also helping growth is that in June, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department jointly announced regulations to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions from heavy-duty trucks. “These efficiency standards are good for the environment—and the economy,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “When trucks use less fuel, shipping costs go down.”

Not everyone agrees, however. While some truck makers say they can adapt to the new requirements, others claim that the new technologies will be too costly. The Wall Street Journal reports that a new rule requiring truckers to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) on all shipments will likely improve efficiency, but could have a negative impact on smaller trucking companies and owner-operators.

Perhaps the biggest challenge faced by trucking companies today is the shortage of big-rig drivers. According to the ATA, some 35,000-40,000 more drivers are needed. This means fewer trucks on the road, and higher costs as a result.

Some companies have simply decided to handle their own shipping. Take, for example, Ashley Furniture Industries, a family-owned business, which is located far from any major cities or economic centers, and 30 miles from the nearest Interstate highway.

Ashley’s solution was to create its own shipping operation. Today, the manufacturer has 800 trucks, used to deliver most of its products to retailers. Nearly 3,000 employees—about 25% of the company’s U.S. headcount—work in transportation and warehouse jobs. Special equipment is used for speed loading, and the trucks carry other companies’ loads on return trips.

But this approach is not for everyone. Industry experts point out that it is highly unusual for manufacturers to operate their own transport fleets. For most manufacturers, outsourcing shipping functions to a third-party transport service leads to greater reliability and cost savings.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.