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Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc.
TypePublic company
Founded1934; 89 years ago (1934) in Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
  • Earl Congdon
  • Lillian Congdon
HeadquartersThomasville, North Carolina, U.S.
Number of locations
244 service centers (2020)
Area served
Key people
  • David S. Congdon
    (executive chairman)
  • Greg C. Gantt
    (president & CEO)
  • John R. Congdon, Jr.
RevenueDecrease US$4,015 million (2020)
Increase US$907 million (2020)
Increase US$673 million (2020)
Total assetsIncrease US$4,369 million (2020)
Total equityIncrease US$3,326 million (2020)
OwnersCongdon family: 11.8% [1]
Number of employees
19,779 (2020)
Footnotes / references

Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc. (ODFL) is an American regional, inter-regional and national less than truckload shipping (LTL) company. In addition to its core LTL services, the company offers logistics and household moving services.[3]

The company has five primary product groups: Domestic, Expedited, People, Global, Household Services and Technology. Global offerings include full container load (FCL) and less-than-container load (LCL) service to the Caribbean, Europe, the Far East, Central America and South America. The company operates more than 5,800 tractors and more than 22,500 trailers.[5]


Foundation and early history

Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc. traces its origins to 1934 when husband and wife Earl Congdon, Sr. and Lillian Congdon (née Herbert) founded the company with a single straight truck running between Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia.[6] The name is a reference to a common nickname for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the "Old Dominion".[7] The company initially operated with Earl as its only driver and Lillian both running business operations from their home and serving as an alternate driver if Earl was unavailable.[6]

Following passage of the Motor Carrier Act of 1935, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) began regulating the trucking industry.[8] ODFL was initially granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) by the ICC to transport interstate freight on their original route between Richmond and Norfolk but this freight had to be destined for transit outside the state of Virginia either internationally or interstate. The only other type of shipments ODFL was allowed to carry were interline shipments, transiting freight along this route on behalf of other carriers who did not possess a CPCN for that route.[9]

The company moved its operations out of the Congdon's house into its terminal, a space outside a grocery store, in 1935. But, with that space lacking a loading dock, they moved again in 1936 to a facility with two truck bays. The facility was shared with Overnite Transportation with the two bays split between them. By the end of that year, ODFL was operating six tractor-trailers and 12 straight trucks and shortly thereafter moved to a dedicated 7-bay facility.[10]

Through the late 1930s, the company made several moves to remain solvent under regulation. These included wet leasing a significant portion of their fleet to the Manchester Board and Paper Co. in 1936 and unsuccessfully attempting to lease operating authority from Carter Brothers Express Lines in 1939 to expand ODFL's routes. An attempt by employees to unionize under the Teamsters Union was unsuccessful in 1939 after a 3-month strike. Despite some challenges, the company remained profitable thorough the end of the decade but used its proceeds to finance expansion and by 1940 had three service centers, 45 employees, and 12 drivers.[11]

In 1940, the company's drivers were successfully unionized under the Teamsters this time supported by Earl, Sr. at behest of a large customer. In the 1940s, ODFL switched from a navy blue and red livery for its tractors to the dark green color which it continued to use throughout its history. The reason for the change was that it had purchased vehicles from International Harvester which were delivered dark green. Instead of repainting the new trucks to match its older trucks, ODFL chose to repaint the older trucks to match the new ones.[12]

Wartime expansion

During World War II, ODFL expanded outside Virginia beginning in 1941 by buying the trucks of New Dixie Transfer and leasing New Dixie's CPCN for a year. This allowed ODFL to operate between Richmond and a number of points in North Carolina and South Carolina. ODFL also received broader authorization to run routes within Virginia and acquired an additional route from the Wilson Trucking Co. in 1942. This was one of three routes Wilson had acquired from former ODFL competitor Hampton Roads Transport Company earlier that year. With a focus on its Virginia operations, especially transporting equipment and supplies for the military to ports, ODFL chose not to renew their lease of New Dixie's CPCN making them solely a Virginia intrastate operator again.[13]

The company converted a disused lumber mill into a trucking terminal in 1942 to support the volume of business they were doing during the war. This facility also housed the company's offices and its first maintenance shop. Also in 1942, Earl, Sr. and Lillian became 50-50 partners in the business officially, though through the late 1940s Lillian stepped back from day-to-day operations as the company hired additional staff. By 1944, the company operated 14 straight trucks, 18 tractors, and 25 trailers with 74 employees.[14]

Post-war growth

ODFL semi-trailer truck in Manhattan in 2019
ODFL semi-trailer truck in Manhattan in 2019

ODFL was one of many unionized carriers impacted by a Teamsters strike that lasted over 10 weeks in 1946. Just before the union called the end of the strike, ODFL drivers in Richmond decided to leave the union and return to work. Other ODFL drivers remained unionized. The financial impact of the strike forced the company to lay off many of its office workers and sell of its operating authority for a major route between Richmond and Norfolk to Davidson Transfer and Storage to maintain enough capital to continue operations.[14]

Following the strike, ODFL was able to recover and in 1947 was operating 16 straight trucks, 25 tractors, and 35 trailers and was profitable. The following year, it began a partnership with Globe Freight Airline, Inc. where ODFL distributed airfreight through Virginia.[15]

After Earl Congdon died in 1950, Lillian Congdon assumed the presidency[16][17] and was joined by sons Earl, Jr. and Jack. In 1957, Old Dominion extended its operations to most major markets in North Carolina and southern Virginia. Five years later, the company relocated its headquarters to High Point, North Carolina, in 1962 and merged with Bottoms-Fiske trucking company.[18]

Between 1969 and 1979, the company acquired several competing trucking lines. With the deregulation of the trucking industry in the 1980s, Old Dominion extended its service area into Florida, Tennessee and California and also started serving the major markets of Chicago and Dallas.[18]

In 1991, the company became a public company via an initial public offering.[18]

David Congdon, grandson of the company's founders, was named president and COO in 1997. Until May 2018 he served as the company's Vice Chairman and CEO. He then succeeded his father Earl Congdon, Jr. as executive chairman. Earl moved to the role of senior executive chairman. Greg C. Gantt serves as president and CEO.[18][19]


An ODFL truck
An ODFL truck

As of 31 December 2020, ODFL had 19,779 full-time employees, all non-union, and operated 9,288 tractors and 244 service centers, 2017 of which are owned by the company with the remainder leased.[4]


Old Dominion is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay Transport Partnership, a collaboration between freight shippers, carriers, and logistics companies to voluntarily achieve certain environmental standards around fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.


  1. ^ 2021 Proxy statement
  2. ^ "2019 Proxy Statement". EDGAR. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  3. ^ a b "Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc. 2018 Form 10-K Annual Report". EDGAR. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Archived from the original on 2019-12-09. Retrieved 2019-12-09.
  4. ^ a b ODFL (February 24, 2021). "Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc. 2020 Annual Report" (PDF). ODFL. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 14, 2021. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  5. ^ ODFL. "Company Information". ODFL. Archived from the original on October 27, 2021. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Rodengen 2011, pp. 12–14.
  7. ^ Rodengen 2011, p. 29.
  8. ^ Moore, Thomas Gale. "Trucking Deregulation". The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (1st ed.). Library of Economics and Liberty. Archived from the original on September 21, 2021. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  9. ^ Rodengen 2011, pp. 15–16.
  10. ^ Rodengen 2011, pp. 17–18.
  11. ^ Rodengen 2011, pp. 19–21.
  12. ^ Rodengen 2011, pp. 22–23.
  13. ^ Rodengen 2011, pp. 24–25.
  14. ^ a b Rodengen 2011, pp. 26–27.
  15. ^ Rodengen 2011, p. 28.
  16. ^ Bien, William (July 19, 1954). "Woman Heads Freight Line". The Richmond News Leader. pp. 1, 21. Archived from the original on November 9, 2021. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  17. ^ Ware 1982.
  18. ^ a b c d ODFL. "Company History". ODFL. Archived from the original on March 10, 2021. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  19. ^ Bollinger, Luke (March 9, 2018). "Change in leadership planned at Old Dominion". American City Business Journals. Archived from the original on August 5, 2020. Retrieved August 16, 2018.