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Truckstop’s new CEO sees scaling, integration as major challenges

Kendra Tucker is becoming CEO of at a time when it is firmly established as a major load board but trying to diversify its offerings to become much more. 

Tucker recently was named CEO of effective April 1, less than two years after joining the company as its chief revenue officer. Most recently, she was chief operating officer.

In an interview with FreightWaves, Tucker talked about the numerous existing Truckstop  offerings that she hopes to expand upon. But the load board remains the core of the company’s business. Without offering specifics, Tucker said it continues to account for more than 50% of Truckstop’s revenues.

Describing the current financial performance of Truckstop, Tucker said the company has posted double-digit growth “for a few years” and has been profitable in every year of its existence. But she declined to put specific numbers on that performance.

She added that 2021 was a “particularly good year for us. We did have historic growth across revenue. We had strong growth across the board.” 

Tucker noted that Truckstop’s business has long had smaller carriers at its core. And that has helped it in its carrier business, which Tucker said “grew a lot, especially as new carrier entrants came into the market, given what rates look like.” She declined to offer specific numbers on the rate of growth. 

Another significant area of non-load board growth has been coming out of the May 2021 acquisition of RMIS, the California-based carrier compliance automator. Tucker described the growth at RMIS as “healthy.”

The compliance onboarding services provided by RMIS are targeted primarily at brokers, “because honestly it makes brokers’ lives easier,” Tucker said. When Truckload bought RMIS, the company’s service allowed brokers to fulfill 98% of their requests for carrier certificates of insurance within 60 seconds. Without it, “it takes a lot of paperwork.”

One of the tasks that Tucker sees as a priority is integrating the company’s various offerings into a more streamlined platform.

She described Truckstop as “an integrated platform in that we aim to service carriers, brokers and shippers across the whole freight life cycle.”

When a company is known overwhelmingly for one dominant product, marketing the rest of the offerings can be a hurdle to overcome. Tucker said the goal for existing and potential customers is that “as they come through the door, they understand that yes, we can help you to find goods to fill your truck or find a carrier to move your freight, but there is more. The longer they stay with us, the easier it is to get exposed to all our services.”

She conceded that many of the company’s acquisitions “do operate almost independently of each other.”

That’s why, Tucker said, an immediate goal is to integrate the various businesses — such as factoring and RMIS — into one platform. “That is where we’ve spent a lot of time in the last 18 to 24 months,” she said, looking to create a platform “where all the services exist and can interact between them seamlessly.”

An example would be better integration between Truckstop’s factoring services and the load board. Many of the carriers accessing freight through the load board are already factoring customers of Truckstop, but factoring and freight matching run in parallel systems, not an integrated one.

Over the next six to eight weeks, an integration of the load board and factoring will be put in place. “This is what I’m talking about,” Tucker said. “It’s helping the customer to not have to work too hard to make it seamless.”

Factoring is a business that has been projected to be a fertile area for acquisitions. But Tucker said Truckstop is not now looking at that strategy. “There is so much momentum in our current factoring business today that we can see the push forward with the people and the resources we have.”  

That potential for taking the disparate parts of the business and putting them together in a way that grows the overall business is one of the things that attracted her to Truckstop in the first place, “to bring some of the scaling ability I have.” 

“We’ve been in the business a long time and we’re really starting to invest in the growth that is driving us to the hybrid business that you see,” Tucker said. She added that Truckstop started “really investing” in the company in the 2016-2017 period, “and so it sounds ‘startup-y’ in that we have the same scrappy, go get ’em mentality. But there is a mature product underneath that.”

One area of growth in the load board business has been smaller vehicles. Tucker said box trucks have been using to a far greater extent than in the past. 

Tucker said box truck traffic on the load board rose to 30% to 35% of all traffic at the end of 2021 after being 17% of volume in the middle of 2020. 

That growth creates challenges. Box trucks — as well as the pickup truck-based business known as “hot shot trucking” — operate with far different equipment than the traditional dry van or other heavy duty trucks. “It requires specializing the product a little bit to showcase the loads that could be moved on those equipment types,” Tucker said. “It’s about how do we flex our product to be able to deliver what this type of carrier is looking for.”

The growth in this business, Tucker said, has been powered by the new carrier entrants that she referred to earlier. 

Tucker’s ascension to the top spot makes her unique: a Black woman at the head of a significant company in the supply chain. “I don’t think of myself as groundbreaking,” said Tucker, who is likely to be viewed as a role model for other women of color in trucking and freight.

“One of the things I found to be surprising is that people, women in particular, do comment on me being a woman in a traditionally caucasian male industry,” she said. “But I am happy to have the opportunity to do it so that other women can see that they have their own chance to do it. I guess I didn’t do it on purpose. It’s just the way things worked out.”

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