This recap is from FreightWaves’ Small Fleet & Owner-Operator Summit on Wednesday.

FULLER SPEED AHEAD: The outlook for growth at Forward Air

DETAILS: Forward Air’s brand is growing as the company diversifies beyond its core airport-to-airport business operating a scheduled hub-and-spoke ground transport network for airfreight. Now the company has final mile, intermodal drayage and expedited divisions. 

SPEAKER:  Kyle Mitchin, chief people officer at Forward Air, chats with FreightWaves founder and CEO Craig Fuller.

BIO: Mitchin is responsible for overseeing human resources functions as well as the capacity growth and retention initiatives for Forward Air’s fleet of independent contractors. He joined Forward Air in 2014 as vice president of recruiting and retention. He was promoted to senior vice president of human resources in 2017. 


“We’re the biggest large transportation company most people haven’t heard of. That LTL dedicated network that we have is still the bread and butter of our company. But as we’ve continued to diversify, we’ve built a strong network around that so we can offer more holistic services to our customers and really have complementary businesses to support our customers’ needs better than we could just servicing the domestic and international freight forwarders.”

“There’s a complementary level across all the different offerings and as we continue to expand our footprint, it could be from shared locations across our network. Or it could be from a synergy as we look at advancing technology from a fleet perspective and really match utilization of our trucks and our fleet partner drivers. It’s a win-win. If we can use an intermodal drayage driver for a short-haul run within LTL while they have downtime in intermodal, there’s huge efficiency gains and it makes all of our owner-operators and independent contractors more profitable. So we’re really focused on where we have those synergies. Even though the business model is quite a bit different, it’s all the more important that we pull out all the tools we can and maximize utilization of our drivers for their own profitability to best retain them.”

“From a volume perspective, the introduction of e-commerce into our network has been pretty impactful. Figuring out how to best move that e-commerce freight within our normalized bigger, bulkier, palletized freight does introduce some challenges and we’re certainly working through those. Our operations team is fantastic and working with our commercial group in finding our sweet spot of where we play there. But over the last couple of years we’ve started to expand our footprint outside of the terminal, the large airport locations where our network has traditionally been. So, we have several greenfield startups a year. We continue to do those outside of the airport network, which is really positioning us to really play in that space much better and more efficiently as we grow.”