Generations of trucking
By: Jeff Reed, Skyline Transportation, Inc., Knoxville, TN
I’m not sure if I chose trucking or if trucking chose me. Growing up, it’s all I knew and all I wanted to do.
See, trucking has been in our blood for generations. Our family has been working in the transportation industry for as long as we can remember. So, for my grandfather and his brother, trucking is all they knew and wanted to do, too.
In 1954, following their dream, the Reed’s gave up everything they had — they sold what they could and quit their jobs in the trucking and railroad industry — to purchase the trucking company Skyline Transportation in Knoxville, Tennessee. At the time, Skyline was a small carrier, with only six trucks. The company served as a local interline trucking company, which operated within about 75 miles of Knoxville, serving the small surrounding communities during a time when the trucking industry was heavily regulated and many trucking companies could only operate in one state.
Though Skyline may have been a small operation at first, the first generation of Reed’s operated everyday with strong pride, knowing that our family was delivering the everyday goods that our neighbors and friends relied upon to move their lives forward and keep our local economy growing. Through hard work and dedication, the first generation of Skyline Reed’s grew the business to operate within a 200 mile radius of Knoxville.
Years later, the second generation of Reed’s, my father and his brother, guided Skyline through a period of government deregulation of the industry, which allowed all trucking companies to compete for business anywhere in the country without having to obtain operating authority for each individual state. During this time, Skyline experienced tremendous growth, expanding service across Southeast states, including Tennessee, Ohio, North Carolina and Alabama.
When my father retired in the late 1990s, my brother and I took over the family business. Skyline became a major competitor in the southeast regional LTL market, but we were always thinking of ways to continue growing the business.
In the early 2000s, we decided to shift Skyline from the LTL sector to the full Truckload sector, and quite literally started from scratch like our grandfather did. Once again, with only 6 trucks and a tremendous amount of drive and work ethic instilled in us from the previous two generations of Reed’s, we successfully established and grew Skyline as a high-quality truckload service provider. Now, Skyline covers service for the eastern half of the United States.
My goal has always been to challenge the way trucking has always been done, and find new technology and processes to improve our company and our help our industry mature. I didn’t just want to carry on with the status quo — not when there was so much room for growth and potential.
Much of society doesn’t realize all the behind the scenes work, problem solving, and sometimes magic it takes to move our goods and keep our stores stocked. Trucking is vital to any society, delivering everything you need, from the food on your table and the clothes in your closet, to playing a crucial role in defense, health, and other social and political attributes of any country.
Trucking is an industry that generations of my family have been truly proud to operate in. Will the children of the fourth generation of Reed’s also pursue a path in the industry? Only time will tell. While the Reed children are encouraged to pursue their passion, history would indicate that at least one of the five Reed children will join the world of trucking, just as I did and the generations of Reed’s before me.