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Arkansas Best Freight

October 15th, 2012 - 1:21 PM

While you won't hear an ABF Freight System, Inc. employee referring to the nationwide carrier as "Arkansas Best Freight" any longer, there was a time years ago when that's exactly what it was called. Home-grown as a small local carrier back in 1923, ABF has flourished into a leader in the shipping and supply-chain sectors. Let's look at how the company formally known as Arkansas-Best Freight grew into the service it is today.

  • In 1923, the company began operating as OK Transfer, a local carrier in and around Fort Smith, AR (where the home office is still located).
  • In 1935, OK Transfer acquired Arkansas Motor Freight, and took on its name. This acquisition, along with the acquisition of Motor Express moved the company from local carrier status to an interstate carrier.
  • Throughout the late 30s and 40s, ABF remained a regional carrier operating in and around Fayetteville, Arkansas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Texarkana, Arkansas; Kansas City, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; and Shreveport, Louisiana.
  • In 1951, Fort Smith attorney and businessman Robert A. Young, Jr., purchased the company and began to grow it rapidly. After several key acquisitions in the 50s, including Arkansas Express and Best Motor Freight, the carrier began operating in 11 states, and its name changed to—you guessed it—Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc.
  • In the 60s, ABF experienced even more growth with seven other acquisitions. Then, in 1966, the principals of ABF organized and incorporated the company as Arkansas Best Corporation, a holding company with ABF as its largest subsidiary. (On December 20, 1972, ABC became a listed stock on the NYSE under the symbol "ABZ.")
  • In the 70s, after acquiring several other carriers (including Youngblood Truck Lines and Navajo Freight Lines), ABF became a nationwide carrier – reaching into Canada. ABF was now ranked among the largest interstate motor carriers in America.
  • In 1980, no longer simply a regional carrier, the company changed its name from Arkansas-Best Freight to ABF Freight System, Inc.—the name you know it by today. This period was also a time for extensive expansion with continued acquisitions. ABF now had 160 service centers across the U.S.
  • In the early 90s, ABF became noticed in the international market through expanding service into Canada, forming partnerships with some of Mexico's largest carriers, and partnering with Votainer USA. This took ABF into the global shipping business.
  • Then, in 1997, the face of moving changed with the launch of ABF U-Pack Moving – a self-load moving service that combines the economy of rental truck moving with the convenience of full-service moving. With that, ABF diversified once again.
  • After more growth and acquisitions, ABF now operates within in the U.S. with over 290 terminals in all 50 states—providing service to Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Guam, and servicing 250 ports in 130 countries.

ABF services now include:

  • TimeKeeper – an expedited service provider for guaranteed service
  • TurnKey – inside delivery and set-up service
  • FreightValue – brokerage service for shipments with special equipment needs
  • U-Pack – self-move service for residential moves
  • Volume – shipping for full truckloads
  • LTL – shipping for less-than-truckloads
  • Trade Show – services for exhibit materials

As a leader in the moving industry, the folks at U-Pack are proud of ABF's history – from Arkansas-Best Freight, to the service customers know and love today, the company has come a long way in 89 years. The combination of a rich history, great reputation and impressive safety record means customers rest easy when their goods move with U-Pack!

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