History of Branch Motor Express- Part 3

In 1978 Branch acquired a terminal in Toledo, Ohio and by 1980 had expanded the maintenance shops into one of the largest in the system.
From the cover of the 1970 Annual Report Of Branch Industries is this graphic of a typical sleeper road tractor based out of the Greensboro, NC breakbulk terminal.

After the Morgan Trucking Company acquisition just about all future mergers for Branch were westward into the Great Lakes and Midwest areas. With each company that Branch purchased, their system map of routes and terminals expanded into new states, gradually making Branch one of the top twenty-five common carriers in the country.

In May 1963 a 20 door terminal and maintenance shop was opened in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on Frederick Street between Stanton and Blackman Streets. Originally there were 75 employees there.

In June 1963 Branch acquired Rodgers Motor Lines with routes extending from Philadelphia and New York through northeast Pennsylvania and western New York. For the first time in Branch history their trucks could venture into Scranton, Pa, Syracuse, Elmira, Oleander and Buffalo, NY. Team drivers using sleeper cabs were based out of the Greensboro breakbulk terminal for the routes to New York and Buffalo. Tandem axle sleeper cab over engine tractors were only based out of Greensboro and unique to the Branch operation, and were used by the company until 1984.

In March 1964, Branch opened a terminal in Charlotte, NC  at 4027 Joe Street, the company’s 27th.

A quick review of Branch service area should be presented before the next acquisition is discussed. Branch routes extend from Hardeeville, Charleston and Augusta, South Carolina on the south, Buffalo, Rochester, Iswego and Utica, New York on the north, and on the northeast, Boston, Greenfield, North Adams and Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Its’ north-south regular routes through NC, VA, MD, DE and PA are generally bounded in the west by the principal points of Murphy and Asheville, North Carolina; Kingsport, Tennessee; Roanoke and Winchester, Virginia; Hagerstown, Maryland; Chambersburg, Gettysburg, York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and on the east by Fayetteville and Raleigh, North Carolina and generally by points along US Highway 1 extending from Richmond to Boston including the major cities of Washington, DC, Wilmington, DE, Philadelphia, PA, and Providence, RI. Branch regular routes radiate northward from Philadelphia into the shape of a letter “y”, the center portion of which runs along US Highways 9 and 209 in eastern New York State extending to Albany and Utica and western parts of Connecticutt and Massachusetts.

The next major expansion for the Branch system came in 1969 when Middle Atlantic Transportation Co. Inc. was acquired. It should be presented a short history of Middle Atlantic in a way that may provide insight as to how Branch may have benefited from acquiring this company. Between 1941 and 1949 gross revenue for Middle Atlantic grew from $1 million to $3.8 million a year, net worth increased from $32,000 to $557,000, tractor trailer units operated increased from 67 to 158, and investment in land and buildings increased from $34,000 at the end of 1942 to $248,000 at the end of 1949. During those time periods the company used only owner operators. Approximately 226 truckloads are transported each week between Detriot and Ohio points to points on eastern seaboard. Middle Atlantic had difficulty obtaining west-bound freight and its operations between such points had been unbalanced between 500 to 750 tons every 4 weeks. Middle Atlantic routes extended from Boston, MA westward to Toledo, OH and Detriot, MI and giving Branch terminals in not only those cities but also Worcester, MA, Milford, CT, New Britain, CT, Union, NJ, Pittsburgh, PA, Cleveland, OH, Cincinnati, OH and Dayton, OH.

In 1967 Another 20 doors was added to the Wilkes-Barre terminal and with the close proximity to I-81 the decision was made to consolidate operations of Scranton, PA terminal into Wilkes-Barre. By 1969 there were 128 employees at the enlarged facility and 81 trucks were based there.

List and size of terminals at the end of 1969:

  • Reading, PA 425,000 sq ft
  • Buffalo, NY 298,000 sq ft
  • New Haven, CT 272,160 sq ft
  • Allentown, PA 272,000 sq ft
  • Greensboro, NC 266,560 sq ft
  • Wilkes-Barre, PA 260,000 sq ft
  • Pennsauken, NJ 260,000 sq ft
  • Brooklyn, NY 243,337 sq ft
  • Greer, SC 240,509 sq ft
  • Newark, NJ 239,200 sq ft
  • Framingham, MA 230,400 sq ft
  • Springfield, MA 185,000 sq ft
  • Leominster, MA 170,800 sq ft
  • Columbia, SC 160,000 sq ft
  • Syracuse, NY 122,100 sq ft
  • Providence, RI 121,875 sq ft
  • Cheraw, SC 111,000 sq ft
  • Binghamton, NY 93,400 sq ft
  • Baltimore, MD 79,520 sq ft
  • Charlotte, NC 53,950 sq ft
  • Lancaster, PA 46,410 sq ft
  • Rochester, NY 35,200 sq ft
  • Ashland, PA 19,320 sq ft
  • York, PA 3,570 sq ft

Branch became a subsidiary of Branch Industries, Inc. which sold  shares of common stock to the public and was traded on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol BII.

Size of the Fleet:

1973- purchased 155 new linehaul tractors, 198 city tractors and 65 trucks

1974- purchased 194 linehaul tractors, 40 city tractors and 49 trucks, the fleet now consists of 617 linehaul tractors, 406 city tractors, 335 trucks and 1,780 trailers

1975- the fleet includes 526 linehaul tractors, 818 city tractors and trucks, 91 sleeper tractors, and 1,828 trailers

1976- the fleet of 3,081 pieces of equipment includes 608 linehaul tractors, 676 city trucks and tractors and 1,797 linehaul trailers

1977- Branch spent $5.2 million to purchase 65 tractors and 488 trailers

1978- Branch spent $12.25 million to buy 332 tractors, 100 trucks and 319 trailers

During the 1970s Branch continued to grow and rise into a major trucking company. Motor Freight Corporation of Terre Haute, Indiana was purchased and enabled Branch to continue the westward expansion into Chicago, St. Louis and Omaha. The company acquired a 25 acre site in Milton, Pennsylvania near Interstate 80 for a huge breakbulk terminal and central maintenance shops. The facility would be at the geographic center of the Branch system. When opened in October 1973 the Milton terminal had 61 doors and paved parking for 350 trailers.

The last big company Branch acquired was Great Lakes Express of Saginaw, Michigan. GLX added routes and terminals throughout Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. From this acquisition, a large breakbulk terminal in Toledo, Ohio became part of Branch in 1978.

Front view of Framingham, Massachusetts terminal in 1980.
Another view of Framingham terminal. Half of the dock doors are covered.
The 25 door terminal in Nashville, Tennessee in 1980.
Part of the yard at the Greensboro, North Carolina Southern Breakbulk Terminal. This was the only Branch terminal where the road tractors were all tandem axle COE sleeper tractors. Due to the distance to the other breakbulk terminals, each run had team drivers. Greensboro had 216 linehaul drivers.

Some financial details about the company are as follows:

2nd Quarter 1968- Revenues $10,328,000.   Net Income $454,800

2nd Quarter 1969 Revenues $12,384,600     Net Income $222,400

3rd Quarter 1969 Revenues $13,258,300.    Net Income $116,200

3rd Quarter 1970 Revenues $13,855,600.    Net Income $445,200


During the 1970s the government had been proposing changes to the trucking industry in the form of deregulation. Trucking companies had long been fearing the changes that were being proposed. The operating rights were valuable asset items on their balance sheets, even as those rights were listed as “intangible assets”, which means it’s just a piece of paper and not trucks or trailers that can be sold. Still, that piece of paper was valuable!

The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 took effect on July 1 of that year and turned the trucking industry of the past into unfamaliar ways of doing business. Having to travel between cities on certain routes was a thing of the past, as was the certificate of operating authority’s which had just become worthless! A trucking company could serve any area they wanted to, travel whichever highways they wanted and entire companies hauling truckload freight sprang up. One by one the large less than truckload carriers could not compete against the new truckload companies. The new companies did not require vast numbers of terminals to pick up and deliver local freight.

The 1980 Motor Carrier Act affected Branch very hard just like it did every other LTL carrier. The value of the operating certificates had to be written off which caused the former profitable companies to become money-losing companies. This also caused a problem with loan covenants with banks holding equipment loans and terminal mortgages. Many large trucking companies tried to survive by rapidly expanding to cover larger geographic areas of the country. Some attempted to combine themselves into much larger money losers. Branch did neither, they just tried to survive the best they could, with giving customers the service the company was known for.

The banks called their loans to be paid and Branch could not pay. In August 1984, with assets of $52.1 million and liabilities of $48.5 million, Branch Motor Express Company shut down. Terminals closed and employees lost jobs, including 165 at the Toledo, Ohio terminal, as reported in the Toledo Blade newspaper on August 25, 1984. It was the end of the line for a company with a long history.

Thank you for reading one of the most viewed articles on my website. I enjoyed the research and effort to bring you the history of Branch Motor Express Company. If you enjoyed the article and want more information about other fallen flags of the trucking industry please consider a one-time or recurring donation. It is secure and you can discontinue at any time. You choose the amount and I thank you!


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12 thoughts on “History of Branch Motor Express- Part 3

  1. I have lived 12 years of Branches history, and am a little confused. Having read all of the histories there seems to be something missing.In sept. of 1973 branch opened there new central maint. facility in Milton, PA. The terminal was written up in Overdrive magazine as the most modern shop on the east coast. I worked there as a diesel and truck mechanic from begining to end on Aug. 17 1984. It was a great place to work. Where is this in your history?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Terry, it was not omitted on purpose as Branch Motor Express has always been my favorite company. I admit there should be more about Milton and will be added, I have some details from the local newspaper about the early development of the facility. My history on Branch was steered more toward the early years (before becoming a public entity) because not many would have known what I presented. My blog is always a work in progress and will never be 100 percent complete, if it were I would stop adding content. Thanks for you valuable comment, it is appreciated. If you have anything else about Branch you feel should be added please send it to me. Thanks!


      1. My father John Moyer, worked for Branch from 1950 untill the end in 1984. He worked at the Allentown Pa.location the entire time.There they totally rebuilt engines, transmissions , clutches, as well as rebuilding wrecks. He worked as a engine mechanic and every type of maintainance on their equipment. He also ran S-10 the wrecker and went out after wrecks. Also part of his job duties that he often enjoyed was delivering new equipment to different terminals all thru out the system. He most often enjoyed taking 3 new tractors , one pulling a flat bed with two more on top to Greensboro, N.C. that he loaded and off loaded all by himself. He just turned 90 years old in Feb. 2020, and is still going strong. He still lives near the old Branch terminal that A.Duie Pyle now operates.


      2. Thanks for sending me the history of your Dad’s long time with Branch. I really enjoyed reading it. I worked briefly for Hall’s in Williamsport,PA , and 3 years for Womelsdorf Inc. after college,Before going to Branch when the new term. opened up. Stayed until it closed in Aug. of 1984. Thanks again Terry Smith


  2. I worked for Branch from 1976 to 1986 if my memory serves me correctly. Branch was a great company to work for and had many good people working for it. I served as a dispatcher and supervisor at the Lexington, Ky terminal for all of the ten years.


    1. Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading the history of Branch. If you have any details about being a dispatcher or any other things Branch followers would like to know please feel free to let us know!


  3. Worked in Milton Pa as a road driver until Branch went out. Lot of good people and memory’s. Still the tele a type from Aug 1984 stating the bankruptcy. Got this in Allentown terminal the morning I got there out of time and put to bed.


  4. I read Branch’s ads in TRAFFIC WORLD when in college. Took a course in freight rates with Martin Zabar whose dad founded St..J In the fall of 1958, was driving for WONDER BREAD
    Applied for PT work at the Ashland Mass. terminal, biller called off and TM asked me to stay and bill that night…Hired as clerk,and worked my way up to TM. i was TM when Framingham opened with Meyer Butensky and US Senator Saltonstall as guests;
    Left in 1966 for better opps and ended up as presideht of a regional LTL carrier.
    retired 2 years ago at age 82 after managing a transload and tank truck company in Maine;\


  5. My grandfather David R. (Doc) McQuaid was a salesman out of the Providence, RI terminal in the 60’s. I drove him all around southern New England visiting clients one summer. I would also mow and trim the grounds at the terminal for extra money.
    Thank you for sharing this history.


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