With a fleet of about 200 trucks and about 300 trailers, Twin Falls, Idaho,-based Giltner Inc., is an asset-based shipper with heavy business in the fresh produce sector.
Dan Hawkins, vice president of corporate business development, said the company also has a division called GLS Carriers Inc., a sister fleet that is comprised of owner-operators and carries about 60 trucks and 70 trailers.
All together, the firm operates about 260 trucks, with 400 drivers and nearly 500 total employees.
In addition, the company also runs Giltner Logistics Service Inc., providing brokerage transportation services from 35 locations across the country.
Hawkins said the trucking industry has lost hundreds of thousands of drivers over the past year, partly related to an aging driver population and perhaps rated to the electronic logging mandate. “It is a lot of capacity that went in the dumpster,” he said.
Still, he said the 30-year old business has adapted to the industry challenges and is growing. Last year, former chief operating officer Greg Paulson bought the company from the founding family and is now CEO.
Fresh produce focus and rising rates
Giltner’s main source of revenue is with fresh produce shipments, pulling fresh produce loads from northern California and taking potatoes and onions from the Northwest to northern and Southern California. The firm also delivers to Midwest and Plains states, including Kansas, Nebraska and Illinois.
The company also is hauling refrigerated meat, recently expanding business with a meat packing company in Idaho.
The ramping up of rates earlier in the year, combined with the loss of drivers, has served to tighten up industry-wide capacity, Hawkins said. Long-term relationships are more important than short-term gains, he said.
“We haven’t taken advantage (of the market) and put the screws to our customers who have been with us,” he said. “We have customers that care about us and it is vice versa; we have a great relationship.”
Rates are likely to stay strong. One-time trucking rates of $1.50 and $1.60 per mile may never come back; he noted that March rates were running $2 to $2.25 per mile for routes over 600 miles.
The company has been compliant with the ELD mandate for several years.
Using equipment to the maximum extent possible is critical when adjusting to the ELD mandate, he said.
“We have had to start changing our lanes a little bit and moving more toward the Midwest to get more miles and utilization,” he said,
Longer routes can give more miles per truck and revenue per truck to compensate for lost time caused by loading or unloading at pickup and delivery.
“On any given day, a truck can travel about 600 miles but that is not including loading or unloading,” he said.
Hawkins said it is impossible to know if hours of service regulations will be modified to allow more flexibility for truckers, but Giltner will be ready for what comes.
“We are looking to up our utilization and our growth will come naturally,” he said, noting that the company also expects growth in providing third-party logistics services.