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J.B. Hunt leads state, country in trucking.

Lowell-based Firm Exceeds $881 Million in Revenues

J.B. HUNT TRANSPORT SERvices Inc., probably the most widely recognized name in trucking in Arkansas, is the state's largest trucking firm, according to Arkansas Business' annual ranking.

J.B. Hunt, based in Lowell, increased revenues $181 million in 1992 to move ahead of ABF Freight Systems Inc. of Fort Smith as the state's largest. The largest publicly held truckload, dry van carrier in the country, had revenues of $811 million in 1992, while ABF's revenues improved about $60 million to $843 million in 1992.

Arkansas has six publicly traded trucking companies, including ABF Freight, which is a subsidiary of Arkansas Best Corp. In addition to Hunt and ABF, American Freightways Corp. of Harrison, P.A.M. Transport Services Inc. of Tontitown, USA Truck Inc. of Van Buren and Cannon Express Inc. of Springdale are public companies.

J.B. Hunt recently announced it will market its on-board computers, created in conjunction with IBM, to the trucking industry. The company estimates the venture could be worth $200 million in sales.

The computers are 386 PCs that allow J.B. Hunt's drivers to send messages back to headquarters in Lowell, saving the drivers time normally spent on the telephone.

"We did not want a customized product," says Larry Davenport, J.B. Hunt's senior vice president for information services. "We would like this to become an industry product so people will start developing other attachments and other features."

IBM will market the system selectively through its salesmen who already have trucking firms as clients, Davenport says. J.B. Hunt and probably two or three other firms will market the system to the trucking industry and in Europe.

"We will have had more time with this product than anybody else," Davenport says. "So if we're smart at all, we should be able to keep a leg up on our competition."

System to Monitor Trucks

In October, Davenport says, J.B. Hunt will begin receiving circuit cards to add to the computers. The cards will attach to the electronic wiring harness that runs throughout the truck and trailer, monitoring engine RPM, oil pressure, water temperature, etc.

"That, we will start testing within the next 60 days," Davenport says.

More than 35 percent of J.B. Hunt's 7,000 trucks have the touch-screen sensitive computers installed.

Five new truckers made Arkansas Business' list this year: Mail Contractors of Arkansas Inc., based in North Little Rock; Southern Transit Inc. of Fort Smith; MCC Transportation Inc. of Hope; Howard Trucking Inc. of Newport; and Russell Yarbrough Moving & Storage Co. of Little Rock.

Mail Contractors, which hauls mail in about 40 states from Colorado east, is one of the five largest mail carriers in the country, says Randall Mourot, its president.

The firm has 260 trucks, 470 trailers and 450 drivers.

"We relay the mail across the country," Mourot says. "If you were to put us in the |Interstate Commerce Commission~ categories, we're scheduled, regular route, contract carriers."

The predecessor company to Mail Contractors began business in 1945 as a bus company, InterCity Transit.

"Back in the 1940s and 1950s, we mostly hauled troops in the state to different camps," Mourot says. "Over the years, we developed into a mail hauling concern."

In 1991, Mail Contractors had $20 million in revenues. Mourot expects the company to grow 20 percent this year.

Coincidentally, the largest mail carrier in the country, Pat Salmon & Sons Inc., is also based in North Little Rock. Salmon declined to reveal its revenues and expenses for 1992.

Sunbelt Couriers, the 21st largest trucker on Arkansas Business' list, is a subsidiary of Pat Salmon & Sons.
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Title Annotation:Arkansas Business Rankings; J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.
Author:Smith, David (American novelist)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Oct 4, 1993
Words:605
Previous Article:On the front burner.
Next Article:APA carries its own banner.
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