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For almost 26 years, Pat Quinn and Max Fuller proved you don’t have to be related to be successful partners in trucking. You don’t have to share the same opinions or interests either, Fuller said. “We didn’t agree all the time, but we always agreed on what was best for the company,” Fuller said in an interview.

Quinn died Dec. 13 after a battle with brain cancer, at the age of 65.

The Fuller-Quinn partnership was unique in an industry that has many chairmen but few co-chairmen. “One reason we were able to make it work was that Pat’s interests were different than mine,” said Fuller, 58. “He loved to travel and meet new people. I really love the insides of the business. If we had a major decision to make, he’d often come at it from a totally different direction than I would, but we’d wind up in the same place and agree on what was right for the company.”

That formula helped U.S. Xpress grow from a startup long-haul truckload carrier in 1986 to a multifaceted trucking and transportation company with some $1.6 billion in revenue in 2010, according to SJ Consulting Group data.

The company is still owned by the Fuller and Quinn families, and a second generation works for the company in various capacities under a management team led by Max Fuller, co-chairman and CEO; Jeffrey Wardeburg, COO; Ray Harlin, CFO; and John White, president of the U.S. Xpress operating subsidiary.

The company’s trajectory “won’t change a lot,” going forward, Fuller said. “We’re trying to make sure this company is very sustainable over the long term.”

-- Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com. Follow him on Twitter @wbcassidy_joc.