Carolina Freight 1937-1995

Discussion in 'LTL and Local Delivery Trucking Forum' started by Mike2633, Jun 26, 2022.

  1. Mike2633

    Mike2633 Road Train Member

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    So in my lifetime this was I think the biggest company that I know of that ABF bought out. You actually would see mixed sets on the highway with ABF and Carolina trailers back in the middle 1990s.
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    But what was Carolina Freight?
    Carolina Freight was started by Mister Charles Beam in 1931 in Cherryville, North Carolina. He started off as pretty much a 1 truck operation and hired a part timer or two to help him out and the part time drivers would run around North Carolina transfer whatever goods needed to be bought or sold or transferred pretty simple.

    In 1934 Mr. Beam was able to acquire a contract to haul cotton yarn to New England.
    In the middle 1930s Mr. Cone Beam started a trucking company in the same territory as Beam truck company and there was also another company called Mauney Transfer in the same area. Mr. Beam went over and combine forces with Cone Beam and then they got together and bought Mauney Transfer out and created the Carolina freight company that we know of today. That took place in 1937.

    Through the 40s and 50s the company sustained moderate growth adding more drivers and equipment every year and buying out smaller competitors along the way. However the real big push ahead for Carolina Freight was in the 1960s. The company struck a deal with Sea Highway Inc, which allowed them access into Central America.

    The company also had an initial public offering and went public on the stock market. This helped to really bolster growth and investors were happy to invest in Carolina Freight.

    During the 1970s Carolina continued to do alright they did have a little bit of up and down ticks in sales volume due to the recession of 1975, but always tended to come back alright and keep chugging. They merged with a company called Leonard Express for strategic reasons and this merger would give Carolina full access to east and west routes that they needed. They also switched and fell more and more into less then truck load shipments in the middle 1970s and by the 1980s were pretty much a full force national LTL carrier and they even started to invest in subsidiary companies in Canada and Mexico.

    However by 1991 Carolina Freight was starting to have some troubles in the finance sector. Profitability was running low and Carolina was getting the squeeze from other stiffer more fierce competition. Plus the company was starting to turn into like an over grown "inter regional LTL carrier."

    I know that Carolina probably was getting the squeeze from companies such as Estes and Overnite.
    Carolina bought out GI Trucking in 1983 and GI was kind of like Carolinas west coast subsidiary. Estes ended up doing a lot of work with GI Trucking for west coast stuff. GI Trucking was owned by ABF and came with the Carolina acquisition in 1995. Estes used GI trucking a great deal and decided in July of 2005 to buy GI Trucking from ABF.

    As Carolina went on into the early and middle 1990s they had trouble with profitability they costs of owning all these different companies and operations was starting to become to much and the overhead was just killing the company. They tried everything as far as cutting costs and closing break bulks and all that stuff, but it wasn't to much avail. The company still was having a hard time, plus competition from companies like Overnite and Estes and I'm sure by that time middle 1990s Old Dominion and even Saia were starting to become fiercer Old Dominion would have been pretty newish at the time in terms of being considered a big carrier they were will say kind of a new kid on the block same with Saia both companies were like the New Kids on the Block back in 1995, but they would have been down south in those areas I know in the middle 2000s Saia went on a little bit of a buying spree and they bought out a bunch of smaller 3-4 state coverage area regional LTLs.

    ABF in 1995 decided it was going to buy Worldway Inc, which was the parent company of Carolina Freight. they purchased Carolina Freight for 72 million dollars and then shortly after that shut Carolina down and in 2005 spun GI Trucking off to Estes and the rest as they say is history.
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  3. Mike2633

    Mike2633 Road Train Member

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    Just a side note more to do with Saia. The two big companies Saia bought out in the midwest when they were coming up from the south and into the midwest and establishing them selves as a bigger LTL carrier were The Connection Company which was a regional LTL carrier based out of Columbus, Ohio Saia paid $17.5million for them that was in the last couple of months of 2006 and Madison Freight Service of Madison, Wisconsin. Those were the two real big companies that Saia bought out in my market.
     
  4. PSM379

    PSM379 Medium Load Member

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  5. LTL Bull

    LTL Bull Heavy Load Member

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    We used to load Saia trailers and move them as new units to the southwest. Saia got them moved free for letting us use them. We also had a truckload carrier called Cardinal freight , I don’t know if that’s the same Cardinal that’s around now.
     
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  6. LTL Bull

    LTL Bull Heavy Load Member

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    The biggest squeeze also has to do with the “double breasting” operations like the Con Ways and Vikings that were non-union startups from Union carriers like Roadway and Consolidated Freightways that were not on hub and spoke systems and could provide better short haul service. The average length of haul on LTL was falling from 12-1300 miles toward the 5-600 mile mark and the big Union LTL’s just didn’t have the freight network to compete with the smaller non union regionals. This would have been in the late 80’s early 90’s and a lot of off shoring of manufacturing was going on. CFCC as an example had terminals in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Flint and Detroit Michigan as well as Toledo Ohio as the Breakbulk. However the small Michigan terminals could not load direct to each other but had to load to the Toledo break. The Breakbulk didn’t cut trailers to make service but instead waited till the trailer was cubed out or max weight. So conceivably a pallet shipped Monday afternoon from Lansing May not make delivery till Wednesday in Flint even though Flint and Lansing were only 1.5 hours apart. It’s similar to how the old school airlines were set up and you may fly past your dest to come back to it till the smaller regional airlines started offering direct service
     
  7. bzinger

    bzinger Road Train Member

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    About the time saia bought Madison freight they also bought clark bros. Inc of Norfolk Nebraska ( marking the end of my ltl career) ....with Clark bros. Came terminals in .
    Minneapolis.
    Milwaukee.
    Chicago.
    St. Louis.
    Soiux falls .
    Soiux city.
    Omaha .
    Des moines.
    Lincoln ne .
    North platte .
    Grand island .
    Denver .
    Kansas city .
    Dallas TX.
    Houston TX.
    Cedar rapids ia .
    Saia pretty much lied to the Clark drivers and was hated almost overnight by loyal Clark drivers ...central dispatch went from omaha to Atlanta GA instantly and most Clark line haul drivers said saia stood for " some arsehole in Atlanta " .
    Within about 90 days of the buyout most of the Clark Linehaul drivers ( myself included) had quit or retired .
    Saia treated Clark's linehaul drivers so bad that some even quit at terminals far from they're home terminal renting cars or flying home .
    I worked out of the omaha terminal which was the largest in the system and there is only 1 Clark driver left there from the buyout and he can't wait to retire .
    To this day there is still hard feelings between ex Clark employees and saia .
     
  8. Mike2633

    Mike2633 Road Train Member

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    The book Never Stand Still goes into a little bit of detail on the Conways and Conway even has there own book and pretty much what you said The Conways and smaller regional LTLs were able to haul shorter shipments faster, because they would just load to each other and roll out.
     
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  9. Mike2633

    Mike2633 Road Train Member

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    What was if you remember the max out on weight?
     
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  10. LTL Bull

    LTL Bull Heavy Load Member

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    A pup they considered max weight at 22,000 vans were 42,000 to cut and close for dispatch. They were also big into cubing out and bill count. Kmart was a big account and they would take a 17,000 lb pup that was day 75% cube with room between pallet tops and trailer ceiling. They may have three skids of Kmart vitamins or whatever at say 3,000 lbs together and a few hundred cartons. They would break those three skids apart, stamp each carton with the pro number (tracking number) and have a guy climb up on the freight and have another guy toss the cartons to him to stack in the open head space! I was part of this process more times than I care yo remember as a dock hand at the Toledo Ohio Breakbulk. All to run said pup from Toledo to Flint Michigan. Rail containers were another treat. Toledo would load west coast freight on rail boxes then truck them to Chicago to be put on the rail, apparently there was no intermodal access in Toledo at the time for us. The battle cry was “there’s no scales between us and the railhead, LOAD IT UP! High and tight left yo right”. My god some of those boxes went out heavy.

    my favorite was when linehaul would send loads back to the dock because they were heavy. Mind you, they kept track of billed weight on the paper manifest,but it wasn’t always accurate or bills may not have been updated to the manifest. So the trailers didn’t actually get weighed till they were hooked to the power as a single van or set of pups. So if linehaul scaled the unit and it was under gross but over on an axle rather than break it apart and put it to the dock to rework it, the docke supervisors would tell the yard jockey to “go give that thing a couple of good brake checks (forward or reverse depending on overweight axles) and see if you can get something to move on there to get the weights right so linehaul quits whining”!
     
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  11. Mike2633

    Mike2633 Road Train Member

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    I work as a shuttle driver (food service talk for linehaul) for a super regional food distributor headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan there initials are G F S and I’m pretty sure Carolina and GFS back in those days ran on the exact same operating model as far as cube and weight goes. GFS had these strange and very uncommon 28’ pups with tandem axles so they could load real heavy.
     
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