In Amarillo, Texas — where the major industry is cattle — Dee King Trucking says it is the top choice for cattle hauling. Founded in 1992 by Dee King with one truck, the company has grown to operate 117 tractors and almost 180 trailers.
“My family has always been in the cattle-hauling business,” Vice President Aaron King notes. When Aaron’s father founded Dee King Trucking, it was hauling only live cattle. Then, in 2007, it started hauling refrigerated beef and earlier this year it began hauling containers, as well. Expanding in this way has diversified the company and led to its success, and now 60 percent of its business is refrigerated beef.
Dee King Trucking’s clients include Tyson, JBS USA, Cargill and Seaboard Farms. JBS is its main client for container hauling. Affiliated Foods Inc. is also a major client.
Within a 100-mile radius of its headquarters, 100,000 head of cattle are slaughtered per week. The cattle typically weigh between 1,200 pounds and 1,450 pounds. “We are dealing with live cattle,” King says. “They are big. They have a mind of their own. They are wild animals. So when you are loading them and unloading them, there is risk. You have to take safety precautions, know what you are doing and try not to get run over.”
Currently, there is a shortage of cattle due to drought conditions, and earlier this year, a Cargill cattle-processing plant that had employed 2,300 in Plainview, Texas, closed because of this. This trend complicates matters for a trucking industry that is already highly competitive with fuel costs rising and hauler rates remaining flat. Driver retention is also difficult, King says. But in spite of these challenges, it is Dee King Trucking’s ability to take care of its customers that fuels its success. “We do whatever we can to make sure their needs are met,” King says. “We are able to help when no one else is. We are willing to find solutions and do everything we can to meet their needs. We are on time and we do everything we are asked to.”
Dee King Trucking also has a couple of competitive advantages. One is its ability to meet clients’ busy peak season business and the other is its proximity to cattle clients in Amarillo, which has been a top cattle-trading location since the 1880s.
Technological upgrades have increased efficiencies at Dee King Trucking over the years. “GPS and electronic tracking have been a big help,” King says. Improved dispatch software has helped management decision-making processes and saved time in logistics, “and in this business, time is money,” he notes.
Dee King Trucking has also implemented new technology to keep its CSA (U.S. Department of Transportation Compliance, Safety, Accountability) scores high, which is important for liability reasons. The company has invested significant resources to ensure service hours, vehicle maintenance, driver fitness and crash indicator inspection scores are satisfactory, and that it maintains safety for its 110 drivers. All trucks have PeopleNet Driver Terminals for communications, dispatch, GPS and electronic logs. Having the ability to remotely monitor truck speeds has been particularly useful, he says.
Founder Dee King’s more than four decades of trucking experience, coupled with the smaller size of the company, allows it to provide close attention to its clients and their operations. Dee King Trucking is particularly adept at matching the locations of its trucks with the schedules of its clients.
“This is a service business more than anything, so we pride ourselves that everybody does their job correctly,” Aaron King says.