FOR MOST tank truck fleets, 2013 was another good year, but it wasn’t quite as good as the previous year. This year’s Bulk Transporter Annual Gross Revenue Report shows that carriers had to work harder to grow revenues.

Tank truck loads grew by around 4.5% during 2013, down slightly from 2012. The tank truck industry benefited from fast-growing sectors of the economy that generate heavy freight loads, such as residential construction, oil and natural gas production, chemical production, and automobile manufacturing.

However, despite the increased loads in the tank truck sector, capacity actually shrank across the entire trucking industry. A big factor was the growing driver shortage that affected all types of carriers.

View the 2013 Gross Revenue Report

The American Trucking Associations’ best guess is that the trucking industry was short 40,000 truck drivers in 2013. The driver shortfall could climb as high as 239,000 by 2022.

The continued strength of the tank truck sector in the face of growing challenges was very apparent in this year’s Gross Revenue Report. More than three-quarters of the tank truck carriers participating in this year’s report posted higher revenues. Forty-two percent showed improved operating ratios.

All but three of the Top 10 tank truck carriers found revenue growth in 2013. Kenan Advantage Group held onto the top spot and is still the only tank truck carrier with revenues in excess of $1 billion.

The rest of the Top 10 included Quality Distribution Inc, Trimac Transportation, Superior Bulk Logistics, Groendyke Transport Inc, Schneider National Bulk Carriers, Foodliner, Martin Transport Inc, Dupre Logistics LLC, and Transwood Carriers Inc.

Combined Top 10 revenues were $4.4 billion in 2013, a modest improvement over the $4.2 billion reported in 2012. Top 10 revenues accounted for 73.9% of the total in this report.

Average revenue for 2013 was $145,204,395, up more than $23 million from the average of $121,634,880 in 2012.

The median carrier on the list, the one with an equal number of carriers above and below it, had revenues of $60,257,000. In 2012, the median carrier revenue was $50,071,000.

Operating ratios for both 2013 and 2012 were supplied by 23 of the carriers in this year’s report. About 26% showed improvement compared with the previous year. The operating ratio represents operating expenses as a percentage of revenue.

Almost half of the 2013 operating ratios were above 95%. Eleven fleets reported operating ratios between 95.0% and 99.9%, and one was at 100%.

Ten carriers reported operating ratios below 94.9%, and two of those were below 90%. That was the same as the previous year.

Many of the fleets participating in the 2013 report submitted data used to calculate tractor revenues. These numbers give an indication of productivity levels, and it showed that tank truck carriers were busy overall. The average tractor revenue for 2013 was $236,363, well above the $212,474 reported in 2012.

Six of the Top 10 reported tractor revenues, averaging $243,785. This was a modest increase over the $235,351 average reported by the Top 10 in 2012.

A diversified tank truck carrier claimed the top spot for fleet productivity with tractor revenues of $366,497. The lowest tractor revenue ($122,127) came from a food hauler.

Many of the figures used here are from preaudited reports and may include nonbulk revenues or revenues from subsidiary tank truck carriers. In all cases, the numbers were supplied directly to Bulk Transporter. The staff greatly appreciates the cooperation of all who helped in the preparation of this report.   ♦