Starting a Trucking Company: The Story of Carl Moyes

The Story of Carl Moyes

Every trucking company owner hopes that their company will go on to become the next international transportation chain that brings in tens of millions of dollars every year, but only a few trucking companies reach that level of success. What sets them apart? What makes these entrepreneurs so wildly successful?

To answer that, keep reading to learn the story of the Carl Moyes, the founder of Swift Transportation.

Starting in the Trucking Industry

Carl Moyes got his start in the trucking industry in the same way that most drivers do—he got behind the wheel of a truck and put in hundreds of thousands of miles. In the 1940s and 1950s, Carl Moyes worked for CR England, where he hauled vegetables from northern Utah.

Making the Switch

In the 1950s, Carl Moyes started to make the transition from driver to owner when he and his wife put their efforts into starting a small trucking company. B & C Truck Leasing was their first step into business ownership, and they quickly brought their older son into the fold. This company quickly found its niche; Carl Moyes drove between Arizona and Southern California, bringing steel to Arizona and bringing cotton to California (, 2016).

The Beginning of Swift Transportation

Carl Moyes took the next step in 1966. He and his son Jerry started Common Market, one of many small trucking companies popping up in the region as a result of industrywide growth. Common Market started with just one truck.
As the company grew, Carl Moyes involved his other son, Ronald. Carl Moyes and his wife temporarily took a more hands-off approach to the business, but in 1968, they moved to Arizona to have more say in the day-to-day operations of the company.

Expansion and Carl Moyes Change

Thanks to the long hours and hard work put in by Carl Moyes and his family, Common Market was extremely successful in its early years. As business increased, Carl Moyes bought various business assets and small fleet trucking companies, including Cooper Motor Lines, Arthur H. Fulton Inc., and Swift & Company. In 1968, when they purchased Swift & Company, the Carl Moyes family changed the company name to Swift Transportation.

Continued Growth

You know how the story ends. After all, there's barely a person in the United States who hasn't seen at least one Swift Transportation truck on the road. By 1990, Swift Transportation had expanded into a $125 million carrier with 800 trucks. They didn't stop purchasing small truck companies, which allowed them to continue building their national presence and customer base. In total, the company purchased 12 trucking companies between 1988 and 2000 (, 2016). This also gave them the chance to expand into Canada, where they now have facilities and routes in all provinces.

Swift Transportation Today

The work that Carl Moyes put into starting a small trucking company has paid off thousands of times over. Swift Transportation now owns over 18,000 trucks and runs 40 facilities across the United States (, 2016).
A lot goes into success of this magnitude. Jerry Moyes, now the owner of Swift Transportation, attributes the company's ongoing growth to their strength in customer acquisition and customer relationships. Not only do they excel at getting new customers, they know how to keep a customer once they've made the switch.

Who knows if Carl Moyes expected his company to become a multinational trucking giant when he first put his mind to starting a small trucking business in the 1950s? What matters is that Carl Moyes never became complacent. Even when his company was thriving, he continued looking for ways to do more and to do better. Thanks to his persistence, hundreds of companies around North America rely on this company's trucks for their shipping needs and thousands of drivers support their families with Swift Transportation jobs.

This story proves that even the most successful trucking companies started out with just one driver and a truck. Owning a trucking company is tough, but if you have the tenacity to stick it out, who knows how you could change the industry?