Vision: Watkins vision is to achieve service excellence in the transportation industry through courteous, empowered, well-trained, union-free employees, using innovative technologies and state-of-the-art equipment. Our goal is to exceed all customer expectations.
The Watkins History
It all began when Bill Watkins, better known as "BW," used the $300 he had earned working on the family's farm in Metcalf, Georgia, to buy the first Watkins truck–a red, three-quarter-ton Dodge pickup. He used it to bring his chickens to the market in Jacksonville, Florida. His first long haul was to Colonial Stores, then known as D. Pender Grocery Company, in Norfolk, VA.
Three months later he traded the pickup for a two-ton Dodge and a 20-ft. Dorsey stake-body trailer. Before long BW was buying, selling and hauling produce, peanuts, pecans, cottonseed meal, feed, hay and shelled corn for others as a private exempt carrier. The fleet quickly grew to six trucks with payloads up to 12 tons. The fledgling company, known as Watkins Produce Company, used the Thomasville Farmer's Market as its base of operations. In1937, BW established Watkins Motor Lines to handle the portion of the business that required operating authorities and became a refrigerated truckload carrier. In 1963, he acquired Highway Transport, Inc., a bulk chemical and petroleum carrier based out of Knoxville, Tennessee.
By 1981, Watkins Motor Lines was primarily a LTL carrier and spun off its truckload and refrigerated segments to form Land Span, a separate company under Watkins Associated Industries. In 1984, BW retired and turned the company over to his sons, Buz and John.
In 1997, Watkins purchased Sunco Carriers, Inc., a refrigerated truckload company, and merged the refrigerated operations of Land Span into Sunco. Land Span remains as a dry truckload premium service carrier utilizing a team driver operation. In February 2002, Sunco purchased the assets of the Southeastern division of Rocor.
In 2003, Buz's son Chip succeeded John as president of Watkins Motor Lines, and John's son Clay became an Executive Vice President of Operations. John assumed the role of Chairman of the Board and CEO, while Buz became the Board Vice Chairman of Watkins Motor Lines.
The company established Watkins Regional Express and entered into the LTL overnight delivery market in January 2004. Regional hubs opened in Austin, TX; Manassas, VA; Newark, NJ; Orlando, FL; Shreveport, LA; Louisville, KY; Tulsa, OK; and Thomasville, GA.
In 2006, Watkins sold the assets of Watkins Motor Lines LTL Service to Fedex. This helped us concentrate on multiple modes in the Truckload market, bringing us full circle, back to our Truckload roots. In 2011, Chip Watkins was named President of Watkins Associated Industries-South, which comprises all of our trucking divisions. To achieve further specific market growth in the sector that has the most capacity demands, Watkins sold our dry van division, Land Span, to Celadon in 2012, and re-branded Sunco Carriers as Watkins Refrigerated.
Today, Watkins Refrigerated operates in Regional and Inter-Regional markets in the Eastern half of the U.S., providing consistent, reliable Refrigerated Truckload Service to our customers. The Watkins name is back on our trucks, and we look forward to exceeding customer expectations into the next century of our service to the industry and to the community.