Better Trucks, a Chicago-based parcel delivery firm, has greatly enlarged its footprint through opening new locations in Texas and partnering with West Coast-based GLS U.S., giving the two firms same-day to two-day coverage of 32 markets in 20 states, representing 40% of the U.S. population.
In a network sense, the deal is similar to the joining of regional carriers OnTrac and Lasership in 2021, though on a smaller scale and not an acquisition. The partners say they’re differentiated by a focus on small to mid-sized shippers as well as enterprise accounts, plus Better Trucks’ open APIs to integrate smoothly with customers and dozens of shipping software and WMS providers.
In contrast to the many last-mile platform startups, Better Trucks and GLS say they offer a full suite of last mile, LTL and TL to connect cities, in addition to same-day service within a metro area. They are also actual carriers handling the sorting and delivery of packages. In fact, the companies say, some of those last-mile startups are customers, such as Ohi Technologies working with GLS.
“We’re old school, line hauling to connect metro areas,” said Better Trucks co-founder Andy Whiting. “We behave much more like a traditional UPS or FedEx product in that respect. Shipments go into one facility in the network, and they can pop out anywhere else.”
Better Trucks, founded in 2019, lets shippers add labels through its API. They then pick them up, sort them in their warehouses and hand them off to a network of contractors, company drivers and partners for delivery. GLS U.S. is an asset-light company with access to a dedicated network of carriers. It’s a unit of General Logistics Systems B.V., a British-owned logistics company based in Amsterdam with 2022 revenue of $4.52 billion.
“If you look at GLS, they have a mix of master contractors and owner/operators,” said Whiting. “Our network is also a blend. When shippers sign up, whether a big or small brand, we’re the ones ultimately responsible. We’re not just a tech solution that hands off to another carrier. Our customers have a direct relationship.”
GLS U.S. President Steven Bergan said his company was looking for a partner to extend coverage eastward, and found Better Trucks fit the bill nicely with a quick, seamless integration.
“For us, everything beyond the West Coast was no-man’s land,” Bergan said. “We have a customer in California that was turnkey in two new markets in less than a week. Better Trucks was able to execute that part of the work, giving us options on a near-national scale that work for both of us.”
Both Bergan and Whiting said they’re looking at expansion plans beyond the current footprint, with customers clamoring for new service areas. “GLS has a number of both geographic and service expansion plans in the works to add ZIP codes both inside the current states and the Western U.S., as well as working with Better Trucks on partner expansion areas,” Bergan said.