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How a quick shift in strategy kept one shipper’s goods moving better

Brokerage, Dedicated, Drivers, Shippers

When the pandemic made asset-based team drivers harder to find, a power-only brokerage solution quickly closed gaps.

What’s happening: The pandemic broke up a lot of asset-based truck driving teams (it’s tough to social distance in a cab). That shift delivered disruptions for shippers who counted on those team drivers to move their freight quickly.

How we solved it: Adding a customized, power-only brokerage solution for a longtime U.S. Xpress customer ensured they didn’t miss a beat when many of the asset-based team drivers they had always counted on had to split up.

The bottom line: When things change fast, carriers and shippers have to react even faster. Tapping into new solutions, collaborating creatively, and reimagining longstanding processes are all ways to keep goods moving better.


Shippers who relied on team drivers to move their freight fast had to scramble for new solutions when the pandemic threw a wrench into that tried-and-true system. It’s tough to social distance in a cab, and many asset-based teams that weren’t made up of family members split up when COVID-19 hit.

For one longtime U.S. Xpress customer shipping high-value beauty products and apparel, asset-based team drivers had always been their goods-moving mainstay. When those resources grew scarce, a customized solution that began as a stopgap turned into a winning everyday play.

U.S. Xpress tapped its Xpress Technologies brokerage group to send third-party trucks and their team drivers to haul loads for this shipper, but also arranged for U.S. Xpress trailers to be dropped on-site for loading at any time that was convenient for them. This power-only brokerage solution tapped smaller carriers whose teams tend to be family members, and quickly closed the gap that the pandemic created in the asset-based team driver model. In fact, the solution worked so well that the customer decided to stay with that approach for the long term.

“We understand their network, what they need, and how they operate,” said James Rockwell, enterprise sales VP for U.S. Xpress. “Because of this, we were able to present a solution that provided the missing pieces and knew it would be valuable.”

A long-term history of great asset-based service gave the customer confidence that the creative solution could solve this challenge, despite the fact that they were new to the brokerage side of the business.

“We mobilized to provide that solution quickly and showed the customer that they can do it, the commitment is there, the service is there, the capacity is there,” James said. “There has to be a lot of trust and understanding on both sides for something like this to work – that is a key ingredient.”

By providing the resources of an asset-based carrier that also has a brokerage arm, U.S. Xpress is in a good position to quickly pivot when conditions change. That ability, and the willingness of the shipper to go along for the ride, meant their business didn’t miss a beat, even at the height of the pandemic disruption.

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