The Largest Trucking Company Bankruptcies: 2024 Update

Brian Smith
May 31, 2024
14 minutes
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The Largest Trucking Company Bankruptcies: 2024 Update
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Just as Sun Tzu said, "The line between disorder and order lies in logistics." This couldn’t be truer for the trucking industry. It's the backbone of our supply chain, the silent force that keeps goods moving across vast distances. But what happens when major trucking companies shut down?

The impacts are felt everywhere—by companies, drivers, business owners, and consumers alike. The trucking industry is not only competitive but also unforgiving. In this post, we'll dive into the wave of trucking company bankruptcies and explore what these closures mean for the industry in 2024.

trucking company bankruptcies


Trucking company bankruptcies to take note of include cases like Yellow Corp and Convoy. In fact, cases like these two companies highlight the vulnerabilities within the industry. The factors that drive trucking companies to file for bankruptcy include economic pressures, inefficient operations, and competitive challenges.

Throughout this post, we'll come to terms with the volatile trucking market and the ways in which it's influenced. This includes economic downturns, rising operation costs, and technological inadequacies that have led to significant disruptions. Upon seeing these setbacks, Cota Systems has become a pioneering firm as it adapts to the untapped box truck market.

With our ability to integrate advanced technology and create efficient logistics solutions, our aim is to be the light amidst these dark times for the logistics industry. Below are some of the most important stats we'll be covering.

Statistical Highlights:

  • In 2023, nearly 88,000 trucking companies shut down their operations, along with 8,000 freight brokers.
  • Compared with 2023, trucking demand in 2020 was 30% higher in volumes.
  • After the pandemic, railroad shipping volumes decreased by 20% without recovery, last mile deliveries were 10x, and ocean shipping decreased by 25%.
  • Big trucking companies have to deal with rising operational costs: Driver wages accounted for 32% of all trucking-related costs in 2022, with driver benefits accounting for another 8%.
  • A forecasted increase of 8.8% in e-commerce sales in 2024 signifies that the trucking industry will have to adapt to more hub & spoke demand with box truck & localized services.
  • Small carriers account for 95% of the market with 95.8% fleets operating 10 or fewer trucks, and 99.7% operating 100 or fewer in 2023, according to HDT 2023 Fact Book. This tells us that the majority of US trucking capacity coming from the "invisible fleet" is untapped due to a lack of technology and centralized marketplace.
  • Specifically, the box truck market is valued at USD 12.9 billion in 2023 with compound annual growth rate (CAGR) at 4% between 2024 and 2032.
  • In 2023, there were 1,183 cargo theft incidents, with each incident resulting in an average loss of $586,917, amounting to a total of $694,327,811 in stolen goods​.

Top 10 Recent Trucking Company Bankruptcies

Below, we've provided an up-to-date out of business trucking companies list.

Trucking companies shutting down 2023:

Yellow Corp. - In August of 2023, Yellow Corp filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This has marked the largest bankruptcy filing in US trucking history.
Convoy - As of October 2023, Convoy shut down operations. This came after a series of layoffs and operational downsizing.
Matheson Trucking - In December 2023, Matheson Trucking announced plans to wind down operations. This was due to financial disputes.
Surge Transportation - In late July 2023, Surge Transportation filed for bankruptcy. This came after significant operational changes and financial struggles.
Elite Transit Solutions - Late in November of 2023, Elite Transit solutions closed operations. This followed the subsequent revocation of broker authority.
Meadow Lark Agency - This 40-year old Montana-based company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in early November 2023.
Transplus - In June 2023, Transplus filed for bankruptcy. This affected numerous small trucking companies that had not been paid for their services.

Trucking companies shutting down 2024:

Arnold Transportation Services - A 92-year-old trucking company based in Grand Prairie, Texas, was acquired by Pride Group Logistics in February 2022. As of May 2024, Arnold Transportation Services has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation, along with its affiliated companies.
Tony's Express - This 70-year-old California trucking company abruptly ceased operations in May 2024. In its wake, this shutdown has left over 200 employees jobless.
Flagship Transport - a Miami-Dade trucking company that ceased operations in May of 2024. Flagship Transport faces demands from unpaid drivers. The shutdown has left workers frustrated and uncertain about their financial losses and futures.

How many trucking companies were closed in 2023?
According to CarrierOK, nearly 88,000 trucking companies ceased their operations, alongside 8,000 freight brokerages.

Top 10 Recent Trucking Company Bankruptcies

How The Giants Have Fallen

Yellow Corp.

When it comes to a trucking company closing down, Yellow Corp was one of the largest less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers in the US. In August 2023, they filed their freight company bankruptcy under Chapter 11. The sale of most of Yellow Corp.'s shipping centers and real estate to multiple buyers was used to pay off $1.2 billion in pre-bankruptcy debt. This included $700 million owed on a U.S. Treasury Department COVID-19 pandemic relief loan. The loan was approved by former President Donald Trump's administration in 2020.

When Yellow Corp filed for bankruptcy, it made quite the impact, leaving 30,000 jobless. Importantly, industry analysts note that legacy carriers with unionized workforces have pension and healthcare obligations that can be higher than those of non-union competitors. This put a notable strain on their financial operations, particularly in competitive downturns. The rising cost of fuel alongside the shortage of drivers heightened their financial instability.

What went wrong:

Yellow Corp suffered from financial woes for years: The acquisitions of organizations like Roadway and USF in the early 2000s left the company in substantial debt. The recession of 2008 exacerbated these financial woes. In turn, this led Yellow Corp to be among the trucking companies shutting down for 2023. By the first quarter of the year leading up to the bankruptcy filing, Yellow reported around $1.47 billion in total debt. This far exceeded its assets, which were around $806 million.

Yellow Corp's internal management struggles: The Teamsters union, representing Yellow's employees, had ongoing disputes with the company over missed benefit payments and other issues.

Yellow Corp's bankruptcy underscored the challenges that legacy carriers and unionized workforces face along with the burden of debt.


Convoy, once a promising tech-driven freight network, shut down operations in October 2023 due to cargo carrier insolvency. This digital freight brokerage was founded in 2015 with 500 employees and 80,000 carriers. At its peak, Convoy was valued at $3.8billion.

Convoy, despite raising over $665 million, faced intense competition from both startups and established players. They made significant investments in innovation and technology, however they continued to struggle with high customer acquisition costs and fierce competition, which gave way to their road transport company dissolution.

Additionally, Convoy attempted to expand its services rapidly across the U.S., which often leads to increased operational errors and customer service challenges.

What went wrong:

Over reliance on small carriers: Convoy initially targeted smaller trucking companies and owner-operators to expand its fleet and market share. This left the company vulnerable as the freight market shifted.

High expenses and escalating losses: By late 2022, it was burning through $10 million a month. This was largely due to the cooling of the pandemic-fueled freight boom and a drop in shipping rates. The financial strain led to staff layoffs and office closures but wasn't enough to prevent the eventual collapse as one of the multi-million dollar trucking companies shutting down in 2023.

Impact of Trucking Company Shutdowns for Investors

Trucking bankruptcies like those of Yellow Corp and Convoy have serious consequences for investors. Undoubtedly, a trucking company closing, freight layoffs, and the risk of transportation industry decline are all worth taking note of in this sector. They affect direct investments in these companies as well as investor confidence in the industry as a whole. Here's some of the ways trucking shutdowns affect investors:

  • Loss of Capital Investment: Investors may face significant losses if the equity in a bankrupt trucking company becomes worthless. This is especially true in Chapter 7 liquidations. That's where assets are sold off to repay creditors. This often leaves little to no return for equity holders.
  • Diminished Confidence:  The shutdown of prominent trucking companies like Convoy and Yellow Corporation could erode investor confidence. Investors may become more cautious about allocating capital to trucking companies, especially to those facing financial challenges or operating under uncertain market conditions. This loss of confidence could lead to reduced investment inflows. It can also lead to higher borrowing costs for surviving companies in the industry.
  • Impact on Bondholders: Investors holding corporate bonds from the trucking company may experience defaults on payments or significant losses in bond value. In restructuring scenarios (Chapter 11), bonds may be exchanged for equity or new, less favorable bonds, potentially at a significant loss.
  • Market Perception and Confidence: Investor confidence losses can lead to broader market impacts. It can reduce the attractiveness of the sector to potential investors.
  • Ripple Effects on Related Investments: The bankruptcy of a trucking company can impact related industries and investments. For example, suppliers, customers, and partners may also suffer financial setbacks. This will affect the overall value of investments in these areas.

Inevitably, the collapse of key trucking companies like Yellow Corp and Convoy underscores the need for investors to be mindful of the volatility within the industry as well as the potential ripple effects on investments related to the sector.

Reflecting on Trucking Company Bankruptcies

When it comes to trucking company bankruptcies, it's the fall of major players like Yellow Corp and Convoy that convey a current trucking industry trend where logistic companies must be at-the-ready to adapt.

But what does that mean? Essentially, there's a shift towards more hub & spoke, box truck, and localized services. According to Oberlo, there's a forecasted increase in e-commerce sales of 8.8% in 2024. Furthermore, according to the HDT 2023 Fact Book, small carriers now account for 95% of the market, with 95.8% fleets operating with 10 or fewer trucks, and 99.7% operating with 100 trucks or fewer. Undoubtedly, this means it's high time for young owner-operators to enter the market and find success with a lean operation. They need to utilize automation and platforms like Cota Systems™ in order to target local, hub-and-spoke shipments.

Adapting to New Market Conditions
At Cota Systems™, we're not just players, we're also a proactive leader in the trucking industry. Easy entry into the market results in extreme cycles of boom and bust. This makes being innovative and adaptable vital for young entrepreneurs. Notably, investors are now turning to companies like Cota Systems on the promise of that innovation and stability that's necessary for continuity in the ever-changing world of logistics.

That's one of the reasons for our new partnerships with ReformHQ, as AI-powered automations in logistics are the way of the future of investments.

This is also why at Cota Systems, we developed targeted technological solutions to enhance profitability, security, and operational transparency: building a steady flow of smaller, more consolidated shipments and demands, while being selective with clients and carriers on a closed platform.

Shifting Market Focus

At Cota Systems™, we put our efforts and focus on the small carriers, especially the box truck delivery market. In 2023, the value of the box truck market was at $12.9 billion. Statistics at GM Insights show a compound annual growth rate (CGAR) or 4% between 2024 and 2032. However, it lacks a central marketplace.  

Oftentimes, small carriers operate without software. This makes real-time tracking impossible for shippers. This lack of access potentially costs them thousands a month in revenue. We don't want to see small carriers turn out like the larger trucking company bankruptcies of 2023.

We want small carriers to shift their focus and see this as an opportunity for rapid expansion in a market with increasing demand for tech-enabled logistics solutions. We're proud to offer these solutions:

Trucking Dispatch Software: CarrierPro™ + Mobile App from Cota Systems™ equips small carriers with powerful, innovative TMS software to improve their shipping management function. An insight we've learned is that corporate drivers usually care less about deadheading since their pay is covered. With smaller carriers and owner-operators, this has a bigger toll on their revenue. That's why we make it easy to check the driver status and plan for upcoming deadheading circumstances.

Shipping Management Software: With FreightPro™, shippers are connected to vetted box truck CotaCarriers™. With this innovative model, shippers are matched with small carriers, bypassing the traditional LTL for better efficiency and profit.

Scalable Technology Utilization

We believe our integrated technology will help improve efficiency while addressing the specific needs of box truck drivers and small carriers. We aim to make trucking companies bankruptcies a thing of the past with:

Proven Results: 160 shipments/month, $160,000 monthly revenue with EOY revenue forecast at $8.8 million.
Safer, Faster Shipping: With a lower cost in the shift to hub-and-spoke shipping models.
LoadBoost™: This technology will soon be integrated with authenticated 3rd Party Shipments from InXpress, Tranzact, Advatix, & Boa Logistics to increase freight capacity.

Here's how our sophisticated algorithms can optimize logistics, improve route planning, and enhance overall operational efficiency with LoadBoost™:

A.I. Neural Network Real-Time Flink Quoting and Load Pricing Optimization: With our system, you can run quotes without pallet count, get carbon footprint for each shipment, all with the help of artificial intelligence that provides real-time quotes and helps promote eco-friendly decisions.
End-to-End Load Capacity Matching: Match load capacity end-to-end to reduce empty miles and improve efficiency.
Custom API Integration for Shippers: Our API is tailored to fit the needs of shippers, this makes it easy to manage and facilitate shipping operations.

Here's an example of our technology in action:
Let's say a trailer for a CotaCarrier™ is available on their way back from a load, Cota Systems™ can identify and connect them with additional loads so they're not deadheading. Technology like this would've been useful when the ports of California were having a shortage of drivers during Covid.

Cota Systems strategy to avoid trucking company bankruptcies

How We Create an Agile, Fraud-Free Marketplace

The trucking industry is undergoing an explosive shift marked by trucking companies shutting down and opportunities to keep any existing trucking company shut down from happening. Cases like Yellow Corp and Convoy emphasize the clear need for innovation and adaptability. Statistically speaking, 63% of truck drivers in the US are between 25 and 55 years old, with the latter nearing retirement, as the market transitions. As mentioned earlier, Cota Systems™ is here to lead the way in the trucking industry through innovation, stability, and growth in a fragmented and competitive market.

Here's how we achieve a fraud-free marketplace:

Fraud Prevention: We've integrated advanced security measures on our platform to protect against fraudulent activities while building trust and reliability in the marketplace.
Support for Small Carriers: We understand that small carriers account for 95% of the market. That's why our tools mentioned above, like CarrierPro™ and the Mobile App, equip carriers with powerful TMS software.

At Cota Systems™, our aim is to create a stable and fraud-free marketplace so that trucking companies can adapt and thrive.

the volatile market conditions leading up to trucking company bankruptcies

The Trucking Market's Volatile Shift

Inevitably, the trucking industry is highly sensitive to economic disruptions. In the wake of the COVID pandemic and the recent boom in e-commerce, the light has been shining on trucking companies shutting down and trucking company bankruptcies.  

As e-commerce surged, demand for more flexibility and faster delivery times that larger LTL carriers traditionally could not provide, gave way to trucking company failures.

What we know now in terms of a trucking company shut down, is that even fluctuations in fuel prices can leave quite the impact on budgeting and profitability. For example, diesel prices, which are crucial for trucking operations, have shown considerable changes over the years. This makes choosing the best fuel cards for truckers paramount in 2024 and beyond.

Take a closer look at the shift in the trucking industry below:

Economic Downturns and Recessions

With any trucking company shutting down, 2023 marked a year that showed us how economic downturns and recessions can directly impact the trucking industry by reducing the demand for transportation services. According to McKinsey, in the 2020 pandemic, there was a surge in shipping volumes (up 30% in comparison to 2023). This was a result of panic buying, and was short-lived. It dropped sharply due to the subsequent recession, one that's now recovering with a different type of need. This is made evident by the decline in railroad volumes by 20% (not recovered). Moreover, last-mile deliveries have increased tenfold. However, ocean shipping is down 25%.

Forecast for trucking bankruptcies 2024:
Yellow Corp, as a major less-than-truckload carrier, would have been heavily affected by economic downturns and recessions. During this time, reduced consumer spending, manufacturing activity, and construction activity. In turn, this would have resulted in lower demand for freight transportation services.

This was very similar to the demise of Convoy. Yellow Corp likely faced financial challenges during economic downturns due to reduced freight demand and declining revenue. The company's large workforce and extensive network of trucks would have incurred significant operating costs. This makes it difficult to maintain profitability during periods of economic uncertainty.

As we look to mitigate the risks of future trucking company bankruptcies for 2024, we must be able to adapt and weather the storm of economic downturns.

Rising Operational Costs

When it comes to trucking companies shutting down, we know now that different operational costs can cause strain to the companies. These include rising fuel prices, maintenance expenses, insurance premiums, and labor costs.

Big corporations tend to have a "big business mindset." This means they're seeking a larger investment and are more willing and capable to endure the rising cost. However, this is also a double-edged sword as we can see in the case of Convoy and Yellow and their trucking company bankruptcies.

Here's some other things that affect rising operational costs:

The Driver Shortage
The big business mindset is also not driver-focused. This is important to understand in terms of trucking company failures. According to Forbes, the shortage of drivers is a significant challenge in controlling labor costs and maintaining operational efficiency.

According to Trucking Research, we gather that driver wages accounted for 32% of all trucking related costs in 2022. Driver benefits accounted for another 8%.

Heavy Cost Upfront
Convoy was heavily invested in developing and maintaining its digital platform. This required significant upfront costs for technology development, software engineering talent, and ongoing infrastructure maintenance. As the company scaled its operations to accommodate a growing user base and handle increasing volumes of freight transactions, the costs associated with maintaining and upgrading its technology infrastructure likely rose substantially.

As we look towards the future of the industry, it's crucial to understand the potential for rising operational costs that undermine a trucking company's profitability and long-term viability.

Monthly retail price of gasoline in the United States from April 2022 to April 2024, by fuel grade

Final Thoughts

As we move forward from these trucking company bankruptcies, we must keep in mind that the trucking industry is constantly changing. From disruptions to opportunities, there's a growing need for innovation and adaptability. With Yellow Corp and the Convoy trucking company closing down, light is being shed on the market transitioning.

At Cota Systems™, we stand at the ready with our open promise to strive towards innovation, stability, and growth in this competitive market. Be sure to learn more about Cota Systems™ in our blogs on Guaranteed Shipping Quotes with Cota Systems and our crash course Introduction to Logistics Management so you and your team can stay ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving trucking industry.

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