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In balancing proven expertise in logistics and trucking, Buchanan Hauling & Rigging is reaping the rewards of partnership
When Geary and Becky Buchanan started their eponymous hauling company in Fort Wayne, Ind., they struck out with one truck, two trailers, and a boatload of dreams. At the time, Geary had already put in 24 years on the road as a trucker and knew too well that a life on the road was demanding, difficult, and potentially dangerous. He and Becky also believed there had to be a better way to do the daily work integral to keeping a nation moving into the future – and that they could outperform any trucking company in the state.
The Buchanans didn’t write up a business plan or seek PE funding when they set up Buchanan Hauling & Rigging, Inc. (BHRI) They simply went to work with a modest but challenging goal: to offer quality transportation at a fair market rate, provide great jobs for drivers and owner operators, and to treat everyone in their orbit with respect.
That was in 1996. In 2018, BHRI’s annual revenue target was $100 million. As we go to press, BHRI is on track to hit north of $450 million in revenue this year.
When they opened, BHRI offered flatbed, open deck hauling. They soon broadened into providing expedited flatbed service and entered the heavy haul market with multiple-axle trailers designed for carrying oversized and heavy loads. Over time, their fleet expanded to include an enclosed trailer fleet, drop decks, and curtainside haulers.
The Buchanans’ significant investments in training, equipment, and safety technology became part of their DNA, vaulting them to the success they currently enjoy.
Today’s BHRI is a full-service logistics enterprise with over 9,000 asset-based carrier partnerships, overseeing the passage of all types of commodities, projects, and freight throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico – with no transloading at border crossings. The company also created Buchanan Specialized, dedicated to the safe over-the-road transportation of hazardous materials.
“Our mission is to work hard every day to provide measurable value to our customers, our employees, and our company,” said company VP of operations and COO Rob Rausch. Of late, their path providing those critical value adds is winding through the middle market, serving the growing needs of SMBs. “There are a lot of small to medium-sized companies out there that know their core business, but they don’t know transportation.”
The concept of companies focusing on core competencies to achieve the highest degree of success is hardly new, but it can be a very big ask for medium-sized companies that are too small to have an in-house transportation operation, but large enough to need dedicated logistics and transportation support.
The way BHRI sees it, the trucking business is in dire need of improved efficiency. “We are taking the inefficiencies out of it and delivering value to our customer by making transportation as efficient as possible,” Rausch said, noting that routing out inefficiency happens not just on the road or in the fleet, but in the way they fulfill their customers' needs – as real partners.
Naturally, the mutual trust needed to nurture robust, long-term partnerships takes time to develop. Once established, BHRI creates win-win scenarios with their customers, such as creating innovative pricing and expense-sharing strategies to ensure success for everyone involved.
Seeing Beyond the Obvious
The growing popularity of e-commerce colliding with the sudden need for nationwide deliveries during pandemic lockdowns created a perfect storm for transportation logistics specialists. With an explosion of demands from customers came new demands on the driver’s side. In addition to seeking out fair pay and superior safety training, drivers in these times are increasingly focused on getting lanes that enable them to get home every night.
According to Rausch, this is one of the biggest trends that transportation and logistics companies are now faced with. “Customers are warehousing more, and drivers don’t want to haul for long distances anymore. We are in a ‘home every night’ world,” he said. The question becomes how to shorten hauls efficiently and cost-effectively.
This is another way where the BHRI partnership model makes a difference for SMBs. In addition to taking care of a customer’s logistics needs, BHRI takes a hard look at the way their trucks are loaded, as well as several other factors. Rausch is clear that BHRI’s strategy is not to hover over a customer’s processes, but to find areas in which their expertise in hauling and logistics can best benefit them.
As a general rule, logistics companies don’t invest much energy into understanding the ins and outs of trucking because their business is largely transactional; it’s often out of their scope to know how small but meaningful adjustments on the trucking side can impact customer satisfaction. BHRI bridges that gap. “We understand trucking more than some of the larger firms do.”
Rausch illustrated how that unique proposition works. “If my pallets weigh 2,000 pounds and I can only fit 21 pallets in a truck that could hold 30, why don't I look at partnering with another person to fill that truck,” he said. “We look at what else we can do to capitalize on and better utilize our equipment going down the road, and to help our customers save money.”
Recently, the 71-year-old Geary hauled a load from Indianapolis to Phoenix. “He’s not afraid to get in the truck, take three days, and see what life is really like on the road,” Rausch said, adding that such trips help inspire the value the company can deliver.
“To know what it means to slide tandems and defrost your reefer and throw a chain at it changes how well you can do your job. I'd love to find a way to let all of our employees experience that for a day or two.”
We don’t know if Rausch’s idea will take hold, but it is obvious that the Buchanans allow leadership the flexibility to bring fresh ideas to both the company and the industry. “Geary and Becky are two of the most gracious and giving people you'll ever meet,” he concluded. “Geary’s slogan is ‘I'll never hold anyone back.’ Working for them is just a pleasure.”
Buchanan Hauling & Rigging, Inc. is a full-service transportation company offering full truckload van and flatbed service, LTL and a logistics division that can help with all of your transportation requirements. In addition to our standard truckload and LTL service we also provide expedite service.
Our main office located in Fort Wayne, IN is staffed 7 days a week 24 hours a day 365 days a year with well-trained transportation professionals on site. In addition to our domestic U.S. service, we offer thru service into and out of Mexico and Canada. We have partnered with several high-quality Mexican carriers to deliver our loads. If you ship freight into Mexico it will stay on our trailer until it is delivered.
Our equipment includes: flats, stretch flats, single drop stretch, double drop stretch, multiple axle removable goosenecks and 13 axle double drop RGNs. In addition to our fleet of flat and specialized trailers we also maintain a substantial fleet of van trailers. All our vans are 53’ air-ride trailers equipped with logistics posts and e-track.
Buchanan Hauling and Rigging, Inc is a mid-size company (300+ trucks), however, we provide the services normally only offered by much larger companies. We have the technology, equipment and personnel to handle your most rigorous transportation requirements.
4625 Industrial Road
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
Phone Number: 260.471.1877
Homepage Link: https://www.buchananhauling.com/