Trucking companies turn to scrapyards during shortage of large oil rigs

Haulage companies are turning to scrapyards as a nationwide shortage of big trucks plagues the industry, The Post has learned.

Companies like family-owned Heavy Salvage in Pickens, SC, sell used truck cabs, trailers and truck parts to major trucking companies that “historically wouldn’t buy salvage,” Vice President Andrew King told the Post.

Indeed, industry leaders say the current supply shortage has left trucking companies with few options. “Most people who come here have tried everywhere else before,” said a US Truck Parts employee in Houston, who asked not to be named.

The trucking industry, already burdened by a driver shortage, has to wait an average of more than a year for new trucks due to a shortage of semiconductors, according to the American Trucking Associations.

“The equipment shortage is worse than the driver shortage right now,” said Don Ake, vice president of FTR, a commercial transportation economics and forecasting company.

A crushed truck.
This smashed drill rig would be sold for parts only, Heavy Salvage’s Andrew King said.
Heavy Recovery
A truck trailer with the back ripped off.
Trailers are more difficult to repair and are mostly sold for parts when damaged.
Heavy Recovery
A white 18-wheeler with some dents in the cab.
This 18 wheel could be repaired and put back on the road.
Heavy Recovery

Ake estimates the industry is missing between 85,000 and 100,000 trucks as current supplies collapse and companies can’t find parts to fix them or new trucks to replace them.

Equipment shortages are compounded by rising demand for freight services as consumer spending continues to rise.

“Fleets search each market for parts and source them from Craigslist, eBay, junkyards and other fleets,” said Robert Braswell, executive director of ATA’s Technology and Maintenance Council. “We have never seen it as hectic as it is today.”

Andrew King in a blue suit.
Andrew King, Vice President of Heavy Salvage.

Most truckers are reluctant to admit that they look after accidents or floods and fires to get an engine that still hums or a trailer with a high-tech cooling unit. That’s because they fear the public might think they’re putting an unsafe vehicle on the road.

However, salvage companies insist there’s no shame in approaching them for equipment, pointing out that every salvage vehicle is ultimately checked by government officials for safety standards before it’s put back on the road.

“There are probably more recovery vehicles on the road than you would expect,” King said.

For his part, King sells between 50 and 60 trucks a day, mostly on behalf of insurance companies whose customers have been involved in an accident and are claiming damage for the damaged vehicle.

The insurance companies contract with Heavy Salvage to recover the money they owe their policyholder. Heavy Salvage never takes possession of the vehicles, instead selling them to the highest bidder on their website.

Heavy salvage sales are up 20% in 2021, King said, while salvage product sales at The Larson Group, based in Willow Springs, Missouri, are up 30% year to date, chief operating officer Kory Larson told The Post.

“Engines are in high demand,” Larson said. “The manufacturers just don’t have the parts right now.”

A white truck trailer with a small wound.
This trailer could be repaired, says King.
Heavy Recovery

“The maintenance side of the industry has been largely overlooked,” added Steve Keppler, co-director of Scopitis Transportation Consulting. “The problem is particularly acute because when problems arise, the trucks don’t go because they can’t get the parts.”

As a result, prices for used trucks and parts have skyrocketed.

A truck that might have sold for $25,000 in 2019 can now fetch $50,000, King said. According to an ATA letter to congressmen, the average used truck sold in November 2021 was 67% more expensive than in October.

“We’re seeing greater demand for trucks that are being rehabilitated rather than being completely stripped down for parts,” King said.

A white truck cab with some dents and scuffs.
Truck engines are “in great demand,” said a salvage manager.
Heavy Recovery

However, some industry leaders at large companies say they have avoided the salvage market because they have harvested parts from their own fleets or invested more heavily in their maintenance crew.

Baylor Trucking of Milan, Indiana, typically buys at least 50 new trucks a year, except in 2021 when the number went to zero, President Cari Baylor told The Post.

The stress of not getting new trucks forced Baylor to take parts from “empty” trucks to use in other trucks in its fleet.

A red truck cab with the wheel and driver's side ripped off.
Insurance companies are a big source of salvage inventory, industry experts said.
Heavy Recovery

“We did that last year but wouldn’t normally do it,” Baylor said.

Chef’s Warehouse, a Bronx-based food supplier to the restaurant industry, has held on to its current fleet of trucks by “being resourceful,” Chief Executive Christopher Pappas said, and beefing up its “maintenance crews to work overtime to ensure that.” the trucks are safe and keeping them on the road.” Trucking companies turn to scrapyards during shortage of large oil rigs


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