From its humble beginnings hauling crops and cattle to market in rural Alabama, Hornady Transportation LLC – a Daseke company — has grown to be a powerhouse flatbed hauler with 270 trucks, 400 trailers and 325 drivers and staff employees operating 22 million miles a year east of the Rockies.
Now the company is celebrating its 90th birthday and its third generation of family management. It aspires to even more success while maintaining the team atmosphere, a focus on people and a nimble operating strategy that saw it through good times and turbulent years in its history.
Don Daseke, founder, chairman and chief executive of Daseke Inc., a family of flatbed haulers Hornady joined in 2015, said the Hornadys should be proud of the name on the truck and the company and the legacy behind it.
“There are very few companies in trucking or in U.S. business generally, which achieve that milestone,” said Daseke. “To have one family at the helm for 90 years is also very impressive. It’s quite an achievement.”
Chris Hornady, chief executive and grandson of the company’s founder, said the road has been bumpy at times. “It’s a very tough, challenging, ever-changing business,” he said. “To keep up with all of the challenges, and to take advantage of all the opportunities, requires a lot of hard work. Just as being safe on the road requires our drivers to pay constant attention to other traffic and weather, being successful in trucking requires staying on top of what’s going on.”
But the company has been able to survive the Great Depression and other economic downturns, the war years of rationing and dramatic restructuring of the industry through hard work and a family approach to the business.
“The Hornady family includes our drivers and employees and our customers, all of whom make our success possible,” Hornady said. “We do take great pride in having our name on the company and what that represents, but we also know we couldn’t do this without a lot of great people working with us.”
Daseke credited the company’s focus on people – “that’s crucial in our business,” he said – with helping it through the tough times and growth years. Many employees have long tenures with the company and turnover is lower than is typical in the industry.
“You couldn’t ask for anyone any better to work with or work for,” said Raina Dees, Hornady’s pricing manager. “People know you and your family. It makes all the difference in the world. You’re not a number, but a name.”
“They’ve figured out how to manage through all economic cycles,” Daseke added. “They’ve been very nimble from a management standpoint. Great management, a team atmosphere and focusing on the people, are all key to making a business survive for 90 years.”
G.E. Hornady founded his namesake company in 1928. After his death in 1950, three Hornady brothers (G.A. Hornady, Cecil M. Hornady and B.C. Hornady) continued to operate the family business. In 1977, B.C. Hornady purchased the interest of Cecil Hornady and became the sole owner and president of Hornady Truck Line Inc. Chris Hornady is B.C.’s son.
With the advent of trucking route and rate deregulation in the early 1980s, Hornady filed applications to increase its scope of operations, only to run into opposition from regulators and competitors. Ultimately, Hornady prevailed in its efforts.In August 2015, Hornady merged with the the Daseke organization. Daseke is the largest owner of flatbed, open-deck and specialty trucking capacity in North America, serving the United States, Canada and Mexico. Chris Hornady said becoming part of Daseke has given his company big competitive advantages in purchasing economies of scale, in marketing, and in the exchange of ideas with fellow Daseke companies.
As it continues to grow, Hornady is leading the industry on such issues as driver pay, having recently announced increased per-mile pay for both current and new-hire drivers and increasing other incentives; it also announced a guaranteed minimum driver weekly pay of $1,200.
Hornady also operates the Hornady Heroes program to help military veterans transition to new careers in trucking. The company’s emphasis on safe operation is exemplified in its six consecutive silver awards for safety performance from Great West Casualty.
“The foundation is so solid, and the company has the vision to push forward,” Dees said. “I see great things ahead.”
Don Daseke does too. “The 90th anniversary party was terrific,” he said. “I look forward to attending the 100th anniversary in 2028!”
About Hornady Transportation
The company was founded in 1928 and is a leading flatbed transportation company. Operating east of the Rockies, Hornady supports building products and steel industries. In 2015, Hornady merged with Daseke Inc., the largest owner of flatbed, open-deck and specialty trucking capacity in North America serving the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Hornady operates a fleet of 270 late model trucks and 400 flatbed trailers.