Truck to the Future - Co-founders Fuller and Quinn reflect on 25 years of US Xpress

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By Sam Eifling, Contributing Writer & Greg Thompson, Guest Writer
Source: Tennessee Trucking News

To hear Patrick Quinn and Max Fuller talk about the good ole days of the company they founded 25 years ago is to recall a world that has continually receded in the rearview mirror. Gone are some of the old trappings of trucking as these leaders and their company have ridden—as well as have directed themselves—many of the waves of change within this industry.

For instance when co-chairmen Fuller and Quinn began U.S. Xpress operations with 48 trucks in 1986, the guesstimates on how far a given driver was from his destination have long ago yielded to geo-tracking and real-time satellite communication. “You were right most of the time,” Quinn said of those early days. “But it took a lot of intuitive knowledge.”

Today, when Quinn talks with Tennessee Trucking News about the grease boards on which dispatchers used to update daily the whereabouts of each truck, he might as well be talking about the cave paintings of Lascaux.

“Amazingly, it worked probably 98 percent of the time because people did do what they were supposed to do,” Quinn said. “You knew the driver. You couldn’t verify; it wasn’t Ronald Reagan, ‘trust and verify.’ It was simply trust. You think of going from that to where we are today.”

Twenty five years later, U.S. Xpress is the second-largest privately-owned truckload carrier in the nation, with revenues in 2010 in excess of $1.6 billion. Over the past decade, U.S. Xpress—with a networked fleet of 8,500 trucks, 22,000 trailers and employment of more than 10,000 employees nationwide— has diversified from the traditional long-haul and expedited truckload carrier model. In addition to regional, dedicated and expedited truckload operations, U.S. Xpress is involved in intermodal, logistics, brokerage and even international business with border crossing into Mexico. The U.S. Xpress customer list—with names like Walmart, Home Depot, Target, etc. – is as impressive as anyone’s anywhere. “We’ve kind of got the who’s-who of the Fortune 500,” Fuller said. “We pretty much ship for them all.”

The two men who split the top billing at U.S. Xpress have their specialties: Fuller is the operations and equipment maven; Quinn has seen the country making house calls to customers. Along with providing the vision and leadership that has continually brought operational efficiencies, safety improvements and enhanced levels of customer satisfaction to the industry, Fuller and Quinn have been at the forefront of innovation, adopting technologies that allowed their employees to utilize the best available tools....
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