Bowling Green’s fast- growing industrial base has led local trucking company Bluegrass Dedicated to expand its fleet despite a truck driver shortage and supply chain issues that are hindering vehicle production.
Bluegrass Dedicated, sister company to Bowling Green’s Bluegrass Supply Chain logistics provider, announced plans this week to invest $3 million to purchase 25 new tractor-trailers and add to its current fleet of 72 trucks.
“There has been a tremendous influx of new businesses coming to Bowling Green, and a lot of them need trucking to support their operations,” said Rodney Smith, director of business development for Bluegrass Dedicated. “There’s a big capacity gap between what businesses need and what trucking companies are able to provide. We’re trying to fill that.”
Bluegrass Dedicated has trucking hubs in Shepherdsville, Anderson, S.C., Memphis and Portland, Tenn., but its headquarters and the bulk of its drivers and equipment are in Bowling Green, where new manufacturers like Ball Corp. and Crown Holdings are setting up shop and increasing the region’s transportation needs.
“Because of the tremendous influx of new business entities in our region, our goal is to provide a solution to companies that have a greater logistics need,” said John Higgins, founder and chief executive of privately held Bluegrass Dedicated and Bluegrass Supply Chain.
Despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, the sister companies have continued to thrive and now have more than 750 employees, Smith said.
Founded in 2002, Bluegrass Supply Chain provides warehousing, e-commerce fulfillment, light assembly, engineering and quality support services in a five-state region. The company has 2.5 million square feet of warehouse space across that region.
“We’ve continued to grow and expand in the midst of the pandemic,” Smith said. “We’re very thankful that we’ve weathered the storm and are still doing well.”
Smith expects Bluegrass Dedicated to have the new trucks delivered by October, although delays are possible.
“The lead times for trucks are a little dicey, with the computer chip shortage and trying to get stuff from overseas,” Smith said.
Once those trucks are delivered, Bluegrass Dedicated will face the challenge of hiring drivers in the midst of a long-haul driver shortage.
The American Trucking Association estimated there was a shortage of 61,000 truck drivers at the end of 2019, and that has only worsened in the pandemic.
But Smith believes his company can fill the openings and put drivers in the cabs of the new trucks.
“Drivers are hard to find,” he said, “but we’ve been recruiting heavily. We’re continuing to expand our driver base.”
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.