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For better or worse, for richer or poorer Eck Miller Transportation, a flatbed hauler of steel and aluminum has acquired Regal Transportation, a steel hauler operating 60 tractors based in Niles, Ohio. ... Transport Corp. of America will acquire North Star Transport. Both companies are based in Minnesota. North Star, a $75-million company, operates 625 owner-operator vehicles. ... Pan American Express

For better or worse, for richer or poorer Eck Miller Transportation, a flatbed hauler of steel and aluminum has acquired Regal Transportation, a steel hauler operating 60 tractors based in Niles, Ohio. ... Transport Corp. of America will acquire North Star Transport. Both companies are based in Minnesota. North Star, a $75-million company, operates 625 owner-operator vehicles. ... Pan American Express of Laredo, Tex., has acquired Zero Motor Freight, a San Antonio-based refrigerated carrier. With the addition of Zero's 100 tractors and 130 trailers, Pan American has increased its fleet to 175 tractors and 430 trailers. The carrier maintains a high ratio of trailers because of its service into Mexico, where the boxes spend more than two weeks south of the border. ... C.R. England and PSD Transportation Services have teamed together to provide LTL multi-temperature service between the Southeast and the Southwest. ... Transit Group of Atlanta has agreed to buy Certified Transport, a shorthaul and medium carrier operating 72 power units and 175 trailers. The company also runs 50 owner-operators. Venture Logistics, Certified's logistics affiliate is part of the deal. ... USF Red Star, a regional LTL carrier has acquired Vallerie Transportation Services. ... Celadon Group will expand its North American operations with the acquisition of Gerth Transport, a Canadian truckload van carrier that provides service primarily to Mexico.

Raising the bar United Parcel Service will back its service with a money-back guarantee for on-time delivery of all business-to-business shipments. The move, which raised the stakes in the increasingly competitive expedited-shipment market, is intended to restore some shine to the company's image following last summer's disruptive Teamster strike.

Will the bubble burst? Last year was a record-setter for driver wages. Led by J.B. Hunt's move to boost base pay to 38 cents/mi., the 3.3% growth rate for driver wages was nearly double the 1.7% rate of inflation. One factor that seems especially significant in driving this number so high is the fact that the economy is at a virtual full-employment level, creating demand for workers in all industries, including trucking.

Beyond wages, drivers are taking on more important roles in equipment design, specs, and promotion. New equipment innovations increasingly incorporate driver input and are aimed at making the job of driving a truck more productive, more comfortable, and less tiring. In addition, drivers are finding a seat at the equipment spec table. And in recognition of their expanded role, drivers often find themselves targeted in marketing campaigns. (Editor's note: For more information, please refer to graph on page 124 of FLEET OWNER's May 1998 issue.)

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