Fleet Profile: Celadon grows from chance encounter

If Steve Russell had correct change one day back in 1985, the American trucking industry might not have one of its major players today, Celadon Group Inc. (CGI), which is located in Indianapolis and employs 4,000 people.

Russell, a man steeped in manufacturing and transportation, was on a highway outside New York City in 1985 when he found he did not have exact change for the automated tollbooth. Switching lanes, he wound up next to a man he knew who rolled down his car window and asked to talk to Russell.

The man said he was having trouble getting auto parts from Mexico into the U.S. for Chrysler, and asked if Russell could help. Russell said he could. What would eventually become an $800 million a year trucking company was born, and Russell today serves as chairman of the board.

In its early years, Celadon specialized in carrying automotive parts and equipment. Today, it hauls a variety of commodities throughout North America. Thanks to some recent acquisitions, CGI is involved in most segments of the trucking industry,  using company drivers and owner-operators.

Joe Weigel, director of marketing and communications for Celadon, says the company made a dozen strategic acquisitions between December of 2012 and December of 2013, increasing not just the size of the company, but its scope. Just last month, it acquired Evans Equipment Inc. of Butler, Ind., re-establishing itself in the flatbed market.

The size and scope of Celadon means drivers have numerous opportunities with the publicly traded company, which has annual revenues of $800 million.

Celadon services include dry van truckload, dedicated, local, LTL consolidation, temperature-controlled, flatbed and intermodal. In addition CGI offers brokerage, warehousing and distribution and 3PL services.

Driving Celadon’s fleet of 3,600 tractors and 10,000 trailers are both company drivers (85 to 90 percent) and owner-operators (10 to 15 percent). Most are driving 2012-2013 International ProStars, and Celadon offers a lease program with  International LoneStars to attract owner-operators. Company team drivers are in new, premium Kenworth T680s.

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According Weigel, Celadon starts company drivers at 33 cents per mile; 34 cents if they have at least three years experience driving. Owner-operators are paid 94 cents per mile plus a fuel surcharge.

“We tell company drivers they can average around 2,300 miles a week, which can fluctuate on how much home time they want,” said Weigel.

Fourteen days on the road earns drivers two days off.

Drivers qualify for benefits after 90 days, and the company has a wellness clinic for all employees at it headquarters in Indianapolis.

See Celadon’s FAQ for potential drivers.