The market for specialized trucking services is growing rapidly, according to Barbara Vitchus, newly appointed general manager for Schneider Specialized Carriers, a subsidiary of Green Bay, WI-based truckload carrier Schneider National. And demand for such services may become more acute as many smaller carriers that used to serve this market have left the business.
“The specialized trucking niche used to be served primarily by smaller carriers that had expertise in hauling glass, oversized freight, etc.,” she said. “Now many of those carriers have left the business because of the tough freight environment of the last few years. That opens a major opportunity for specialized divisions such as ours, especially as new housing starts continue to grow.”
Vitchus noted that the specialized trucking niche faces some challenges as well, most notably a major driver shortage.
“The major challenge is finding drivers willing to haul specialized freight,” she said. “It’s a more difficult task than general freight as it’s more labor-intensive and safety concerns are greater. That’s why finding drivers for this segment is difficult.”
However, tight capacity can be a silver lining of sorts to the driver shortage dilemma in this segment, Vitchus said, as demand for specialized services isn’t going away. Also, new hauling systems are playing an important role in making the available specialized driver population more productive.
“For example, we use a patented ‘rack and roll’ system for hauling glass, which makes loading and unloading glass faster and easier while requiring less handling by drivers. That makes the job easier on drivers while making them more productive.”