Variant issues lead to operating loss for Chattanooga trucking company US Xpress


Operational issues at his Variant trucking company led to disappointing financial results for US Xpress of Chattanooga in the fourth quarter of 2021, CEO Eric Fuller said in a statement released Wednesday.

The company reported an operating loss of $5.1 million compared to operating profit of $15.1 million in the same quarter of 2020, and losses per share of 10 cents compared to profit per share of 15 cents in 2020. Analysts had forecast earnings of 8 cents per share. in the fourth quarter of 2021.

(READ MORE: Keep trucking: US Xpress CEO Eric Fuller reflects on his industry, innovation)

In December, US Xpress announced that it had fired Variant president Cameron Ramsdell, moving Variant’s technology and operations teams to report directly to Fuller.

“We deliberately built Variant outside of US Xpress with a team that had technology expertise, but not necessarily trucking expertise, and gave them a mandate to build a technology-based fleet,” Fuller said in the communicated. “For most of Variant’s history, this frame has been successful as the fleet has grown rapidly and produced a better experience for drivers and customers while improving usability, safety and revenue per tractor.However, as Variant began to achieve significant scale, we found that the team needed to focus on idea generation at runtime to ensure the fleet was running smoothly while maintaining its upper operating parameters.”

(READ MORE: As Variant fleet grows, US Xpress of Chattanooga reports spotty results)

Ramsdell had been president of Variant and on-road operations since September 2020, according to an SEC filing from US Xpress.

“We will continue to operate, develop and enhance Variant from our Atlanta location and expect Variant to continue to be the primary driver of growth for our truck fleet in the years to come,” said said Fuller in this file.

The bringing together of technology and operations reporting directly to Fuller has brought some early improvements, Fuller said in the fourth quarter 2021 earnings release.

“Since mid-December, the operational changes we have made have resulted in improvements in utilization, revenue per tractor and overhead per tractor,” he said in the statement. “Going into 2022, our priorities are to restore Variant’s revenue productivity and driver turnover to previous levels, reduce our overhead costs per tractor and continue to sequentially increase our overall fleet size.”

The size of the variant fleet continues to expand, which Fuller called a bright spot in the quarter’s results.

“The fourth quarter was marked by several achievements, as our average number of tractors grew year-over-year for the first time in six quarters, powered by Variant, which grew its fleet to over 1,500 tractors at the end of the year,” he said.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga’s US Xpress Expands Variant Fleet, Digital Transactions in Q2)

Additionally, Fuller said, the company’s brokerage segment grew loads and revenue, and its dedicated division generated record revenue per tractor per week. These factors contributed to the increase in operating revenue, which was $531.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, an increase of $76 million compared to the fourth quarter of 2020.

– Compiled by editor Mary Fortune


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