Patriot Transportation Holding, parent of Florida Rock & Tank Lines, grew operating revenues by $6.6 million year-over-year during fiscal year 2022, despite losing approximately 40 drivers, thanks to rate increases, higher fuel surcharges, and an improved business mix, the Jacksonville, Florida-based company reported.
While revenue miles were down 11%, to 2.5 million, operating revenue was up 72 cents, or 21.1%, per mile, according to a Dec. 6 earnings report.
“Since announcing the first significant pay increase back in April of 2021, our driver count has stabilized and we have been holding steady at +/- 350 revenue-producing drivers,” Patriot summarized in the Dec. 6 release. “During the first quarter of 2022 we announced additional driver pay increases in all of our markets, with the majority effective Feb. 4, 2022. In July, we announced additional driver pay increases in about half of our markets with the other half planned for early fiscal 2023.
“These increases require drivers to meet certain criteria each month in order to qualify, including minimum average log hours worked and zero unexcused absences to help drive productivity.”
Operating profits also grew in 2022, due in large part to the sale of the company’s former terminal location in Tampa, Florida, which brought in $8.3 million. Adjusted operating profit was $1.4 million, compared to a loss of $734,000 last year.
Patriot also cited lingering pandemic impacts on the demand for oil and petroleum products, inflationary pressure, and insurance payouts as negative headwinds during fiscal 2022. But it still replaced 26 tractors and five trailers; and added five used dry bulk trailers in an effort to expand that part of its business.
The company also plans to purchase 73 new tractors (29 replacing leased units) and about 10 trailers, with total anticipated capital expenditure of about $12 million in fiscal 2023.
“We continue to see inflationary pressure add to our other expenses as well, particularly in vehicle parts, maintenance labor, tires and non-driver labor,” the company continued. “Insurance premiums continue to rise in the high single digits on the lower end and up to 15-20% on the upper layers of our insurance coverage. To combat all of these rising costs, our biggest focus the past 18 months and continuing into FY 2023 will be on partnering with customers who understand the challenges we face and are willing to continue to raise rates to allow us to make an acceptable return on our capital. We continue to successfully negotiate additional rate increases with most of our customers and will seek to replace business where the rate negotiations do not allow us to cover rising expenses.
“This was a particularly difficult year from an insurance claims and equipment write-off perspective, with four incidents costing us a little over $1.2 million of expense in fiscal 2022. We are certainly vulnerable to these types of claims every year, but this was unlike most, if any, of our prior years’ experience having so much expense tied up in just four claims.”