• 10/28/2021
  • 10 min

25 Years of Partnership

  • Jeff Hull
  • 10/28/2021
  • 10 min

Davenport Transportation was one of the first fleets to choose the VNL and the relationship is stronger than ever.

You might call Gary Davenport a self-made man, but he’d be the first to say he didn’t get there on his own. 

“You couldn’t write a better story than the story of Davenport Transportation,” Davenport says of the business he built in Blairsville, GA, over the past 44 years. “I have a high school education. I started with one truck on July 1, 1977. Currently we have around 600 trucks and 700 employees. You couldn’t write it out any better. I’m so blessed to be where we are with our company.”

With the help of his father-in-law, who had a contract with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), Davenport landed a contract of his own and started driving for the post office. Over time he picked up more USPS contracts and started growing his business. By 1984 he had eight trucks, all used. By the early 90’s, with his fleet still expanding, Davenport was spending too much time repairing trucks. 

“We wanted some new trucks that were reliable,” Davenport says. “In the early 90’s I contacted Karen Allison.”

Allison worked then—and still does today—for Vanguard Truck Center in Atlanta. There were not many women selling commercial trucks in those days, but a friend convinced Karen to give it a try. “I agreed to it, but only for a short time and then I was going to get a ‘real job’,” Allison says. That was 1987. 

Volvo VNL on a bridge

With Volvo we get more miles per gallon. One mile more per gallon is a lot if you’re running 50 million miles a year.
GARY DAVENPORT, PRESIDENT, DAVENPORT TRANSPORTATION

In the late 90’s, Davenport needed tandem axles to pull his 53-foot trailers. And he needed maneuverability. “We needed a day-cab with a shorter wheelbase to get in and out of post offices because a lot of post offices have outgrown themselves over the years,” he says. Davenport had bought a few used Volvos and Volvo-GMC trucks and liked the way they held up.

“We’re 100 miles from any dealer, we could have picked any brand,” he says. “But we had run [used] Volvos and they were dependable. Once we went that route, we haven’t looked back. They’ve been very dependable, very reliable.” 

It was 1998 before Davenport’s attention turned to the new VN, which had hit the American road only two years earlier. “I got with Karen and we talked about it,” Davenport says. “I liked the VN cab because it was sleeker and we felt like it might get more miles per gallon. One mile more per gallon is a lot if you’re running 50 million miles a year.”  

That was hundreds of VNLs and more than a hundred million miles ago. It took a 25-plus-year partnership with Allison to keep all those trucks rolling all those miles. “You gotta have dependable employees, but you gotta have dependable trucks, too. Volvo has been there for us for the past 25 years,” Davenport says.

Allison cites a number of VNL innovations that make it easier to keep Davenport’s trucks running: the I-Shift, the driving environment, the integration of engine and drive train. But a key factor in Davenport buying Volvo trucks from Vanguard for all that time has been the commitment to  uptime and service. 

“[Davenport] delivers the mail. They have to be on time.” Allison says. “It’s critical for us to have the support of Volvo to be able to target the issues and get the trucks serviced and keep them on the road.”

KAREN ALLISON It’s critical for us to have the support of Volvo to be able to target the issues and get the trucks serviced and keep them on the road.
KAREN ALLISON, SALES REPRESENTATIVE, VANGUARD TRUCK CENTER

Tony Smith Davenport operations supervisor

Tony Smith, Davenport’s operations supervisor, says the VNL’s interior amenities are a big hit with drivers. Right: The first VNL daycab ever purchased by Davenport Transportation still sits on the property in Blairsville, GA.

COMPANY PROFILE:

Davenport Transportation
Blairsville, GA
Contractor for the U.S. Postal Service since 1977
10 hubs in the Southeast U.S.
400 straight trucks, ~200 tractor-trailers
Tractor-trailers split roughly 50 sleepers 125 day-cabs
700 employees
Most routes are shorter than 100 miles, with a few longer haul routes between hubs.

Volvo VNL Davenport

Driving Progress

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