Celadon keeps more drivers, ‘seats’ more trucks

Celadon keeps more drivers, ‘seats’ more trucks

Success in hiring and keeping drivers behind the wheel meant more “seated” tractor-trailers for Celadon Trucking and more capacity for its shipper customers in the first quarter.

The Indianapolis-based truckload carrier boosted its average seated tractor count by 21.2 percent to 4,171 tractors in the quarter, the third accounting period in Celadon’s fiscal year.

That helped increase total revenue 19.9 percent to $231.7 million, the company said. Excluding fuel surcharges, Celadon’s freight revenue rose 29.6 percent to $201.7 million. The company attributed its success in getting more drivers behind the wheel to additional Celadon driving school locations, acquisitions, and the expansion of its independent contractor fleet.

Like many of its trucking peers, Celadon reported increased freight demand in a quarter that saw most other sectors of the economy nearly halt, with U.S. gross domestic product expanding only 0.2 percent. That compares with a 2.1 percent contraction in GDP a year ago.

"Our primary focus over the past couple of years has been to expand our service offerings to our customers and grow our capacity of seated tractors,” Paul Will, president and CEO, said. “This growth strategy should position Celadon to better serve our customers, especially in the near future as we believe truck capacity will continue to tighten for the truckload industry.”

Celadon, which has been expanding primarily through acquisition, also belongs to a growing cadre of increasingly profitable motor carriers. The 16th-largest U.S. truckload company’s net profit leaped 146.7 percent in the quarter to $8.6 million, compared with 3.5 million in the same period a year ago.

"Our average revenue per tractor per week increased $282, or 10.2 percent, to $3,034 in the March 2015 quarter,” Will said. “This was attributable to the increased revenue per loaded mile, which is a combination of rate increases and higher rate levels from acquired businesses.” Average revenue per loaded mile rose from $1.60 a year ago to $1.80 per mile.

Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com and follow him on Twitter: @wbcassidy_joc