Construction is proceeding briskly at the new Robert Heath Trucking Inc terminal in Dallas, Texas. It is perhaps the most visible indication that the refrigerated truckload carrier is in full growth mode.

Just the third terminal in the Robert Heath Trucking system, the 15-acre facility should be operational by mid-July. The fleet also is growing, and recent equipment purchases include 60 53-ft Hyundai refrigerated trailers with Carrier Transicold refrigeration. In all, the fleet runs 190 tractors and 342 refrigerated trailers.

“We see Dallas as a big opportunity, and we expect to achieve good things in this market,” says Terri Heath Shankle, owner and chairman of the board of Robert Heath Trucking. “We want to grow, and we believe Dallas gives us access to a larger pool of company drivers and owneroperators. We’ll have 50 trucks based in Dallas by the time our new terminal opens in July, and it is reasonable to expect that we will be running at least 100 trucks here in the next couple of years.”

Shankle says the refrigerated carrier sees enough potential in the Dallas market that she and her husband moved there a couple of years ago to oversee operations. Jimmy Shankle, her husband, is chief executive officer.

Terri and Jimmy started out in Lubbock, Texas, where the trucking company was founded in 1939 by Robert Heath, Terri’s father. He launched the enterprise with a single tractor-trailer rig, hauling West Texas beef.

Steady growth

Over the following decades, the refrigerated fleet grew steadily and the company expanded its range of cargoes to include produce, beer, and water. Operations are concentrated in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, but the carrier also serves some customers in the Midwest and Southeast.

“We still do a lot of Texas loads, and a significant percentage of our loads still originate in West Texas,” Jimmy says. “We are still focused on refrigerated cargoes, and that isn’t likely to change. After all, people always have to eat no matter what the economy does, and that means there is always food to be transported.”