Fleet consolidation is an ongoing trend in the trucking industry. Large fleets are merging together, or buying up smaller carriers in a move for aggressive expansion. While many look at fleet consolidation as marginalizing smaller and emerging carriers, it may not eliminate competition from the more independent drivers and companies in the trucking industry.

The Heavy Hitters In Fleet Consolidation

In 2017 alone, the trucking industry has experienced roughly 40 examples of fleet consolidation in the form of acquisitions, with more to follow. Since most of these acquisitions are done between privately held trucking companies, they are rarely announced ahead of time to the public. Analysts state that the actual number is most likely higher, with at least the same number of acquisitions on deck for 2018. Fleet consolidation points to opportunities for growth in the trucking industry. As larger carriers acquire smaller companies and make inroads into other markets, jobs will theoretically be created and filled, and revenue will become more centralized.

The Impact On Independent Carriers

Fleet consolidation may seem like it is going to edge out smaller carriers, and prevent new fleets from getting a strong foothold in the industry. This is not the case. Smaller carriers are focusing on growing their own fleets to serve niche markets and locations which are not served by larger companies. Emerging independent carriers should remember that when carriers become larger, they also become more standardized and streamlined. Those niche markets are often overlooked by larger fleets, simply because it would be cost ineffective to haul and deliver for them. This is where smaller fleets shine. Independent carriers can focus on quality over trying to streamline operations and clientele. While fleet consolidation allows for growth among large carriers, it also opens up more opportunities for independent and startup fleets, by not servicing niche customers and overlooked territories across the country.

The Future Of Fleet Consolidation

Even with large carriers merging, and more acquisitions lined up for next year, the trucking industry is far from becoming one unified entity. Just like in every industry, when the “go to” for many customers are large, streamlined carriers, then other clients will seek out more specialized trucking companies who provide services that fit their needs. Ultimately, there is a place in the trucking industry for large consolidated fleets to exist, while still leaving markets open to smaller and upcoming independent carriers.