8 Tips to Evaluate Container Trucking Companies to Find the Right One

It’s easy to start searching for and finding container trucking companies to partner with your business. All you have to do is search a few keywords in Google to find a wide range of local container trucking companies.

What’s much more difficult — and much more important to your business — is finding the right partner. You simply don’t want to settle for average or fair performance, support, or communication from a service provider. Especially when that company provides such a crucial supply chain service for your company.

Soon, we’ll look at some key factors that can set shipping container trucking companies apart from one another. These tips can help you find the right intermodal transportation company for your business.

But first, let’s make it clear why you should only accept the best when it comes to intermodal trucking.

The High Value of Exceptional Container Trucking Companies

What is Intermodal Freight Transport?

Intermodal container trucking companies are one part of the larger intermodal freight transport network.

Networks of ships, trains, planes, and trucks bring shipments from their point of origin to their final destination. There are often many stops at ports and rail yards and changes of vehicles along the way. Each load remains packed and secured in a shipping container.

The term “intermodal” refers to the use of many modes of transport (those same vehicles) to move those locked containers.

Intermodal shipping is a crucial part of local and national economies, as well as the global economy. Research and Markets said the overall worldwide value of the industry was $30.22 billion in 2021. Projections indicate growth to a total value of $50.27 billion in 2027.

What Do Container Trucking Companies Do?

Intermodal freight trucking companies carry shipping containers over roads, where trains, planes, and ships can’t travel.

The versatility of container trucks means they frequently complete the first or last mile of delivery. They take containers from the beginning or to the end of a journey of many thousand miles.

These transport companies may carry containers over relatively long distances. They can also bring a container from a port or railyard the next step in its trip. Additionally, the container could travel to a local warehouse or storage facility.

That second type of work is called drayage service. Container drayage trips generally stay within the same metro area as the port or railyard where they started.

That’s a vital service for any business that imports or exports inventory. There’s usually no other option to bring inventory in or out of a company. Your company likely can’t start or finish that trip except by working with a container trucking business.

Why You Need a Reliable, Trustworthy Container Trucking Partner

There are plenty of ways a container trucking partner can make this supply chain process easier — or more difficult.

Their skill (or lack thereof) can directly impact your operations. They need to know how to work with personnel at ports and terminals. Additionally, they should understand how to limit delays, choose the right equipment, transport sensitive loads, and much more. Waiting on a delayed container of inventory or raw materials, for example, can bring your business to a full stop.

There are plenty of other factors to think about when choosing a container trucking company.


Let’s take a closer look at these key qualities with some tips for evaluating container trucking companies.

8 Tips to Find a Great Container Trucking Partner

1. Identifying Experience Working With Local Ports

Shipping container trucking companies have to interact with the ports, railyards, and airports in their service area. The better they are at understanding workflows and processes, the less likely they are to cause a delay or disruption for your shipment.

While nearly all container trucking companies will have some experience with their local ports, there are big differences between individual businesses.

In-depth knowledge of local ports is crucial for success. Understanding the port as a whole and how to interface with individual terminals are both especially important.

Logistics Management reports, from September 2020 to December 2021, that congestion in intermodal shipping cut about 16% of total container ship sailing capacity globally. Congestion at ports is a major cause of this widespread issue.

Truck drivers consistently who know these three things can be invaluable for your business:

  • Where they’re going
  • Who they need to talk to
  • How to efficiently and safely bring a container to the next step of its journey

The ability to navigate port congestion and work around other issues can definitely pay off for your business. As issues with intermodal shipping continue to pop up, you need a partner that can easily navigate your local port.

Be sure to ask potential partners about their experience working with the ports they serve.

At Iraheta Bros, we’re one of the leading container trucking companies in Oakland, CA. We have worked with the Port of Oakland for almost 10 years as a business. Collectively, our individual drivers and leadership team have many, many decades of experience at the Port. With that experience comes a high degree of comfort with any trip into or out of the Port.

2. Discussing Communication and Transparency

Intermodal freight transport is an incredibly complex process. The ability to deliver a shipping container thousands of miles from origin to destination, with many vehicles and across several countries, is incredibly impressive. The number of logistical needs that must be met to deliver your container on the scheduled date is staggering.

While intermodal shipping is generally reliable, delays and other issues can arise. In other situations, it may be possible for shipping containers to complete their trip ahead of schedule.

No matter the situation, your company deserves clear and useful communication about the process. Is there an important update to share or crucial, time-sensitive information to pass along? Your shipping container trucking company shouldn’t hesitate to get in touch.

Keep in mind that a container trucking company is only part of the larger intermodal supply chain. That means not all activities are visible to a trucking company. These businesses can only communicate about the processes in which they’re involved.

That said, the partner you choose should be eager to share important updates. At least about the parts of the process where they’re well-informed or in control. The team at Iraheta Bros prioritizes clear and consistent communication with all of our clients.

3. Understanding Container Trucking Pricing, Rates, and Value

Intermodal Trucking Pricing and Rates

Determining costs for drayage services and container trucking can be especially challenging. Delays, congestion, and many other issues can influence when rates begin to apply. In turn, that could substantially impact the total on the invoice presented to your business.

No individual driver or container trucking company can guarantee that a container ship won’t be delayed in unloading. Or that a long line of trucks will not form while the driver waits to make your pickup.

What these companies can do is offer direct, clear updates if and when rates begin to apply and any changes in billing occur. Make sure the partner you choose prioritizes this important part of the job.

Intermodal Trucking Overall Value

Manageable costs are a top priority for every business. The absolute lowest possible price on an invoice shouldn’t be the only thing your business goes after, however.

Quality of service and cost come together to represent value — the overall worth of the work completed for your company. Picking a company with the absolute lowest rates can mean reduced costs, but could also quickly lead to subpar service.

Finding a balance between cost and quality is generally the best path forward. When you partner with a container trucking company like Iraheta Bros, you can count on two key advantages:

  • Competitive rates
  • Consistent quality in any and all work we complete for you

4. Checking if Drayage and Intermodal Billing is Straightforward

Shipping container trucking companies offering a combination of great rates and service sound like a great find. That might almost be enough to make you forgive an overly complicated or unorganized billing process. The key word being “almost.”

Bad billing can sour the relationship between a business and container trucking partner in short order. Confusion and frustration are the last things you want to deal with yourself. Even if you don’t personally handle billing, your accounts payable team doesn’t deserve that aggravation each time a new invoice arrives.

An exceptional container trucking business will not only offer strong value and clear communication about pricing and rates. It will also make sure each trip ends on a high note by providing a clear and understandable billing process.

At Iraheta Bros, we emphasize transparency and efficiency for every customer and every invoice. If you or your team have questions, we’re more than happy to help you find the answers to them.

5. Making Sure Services and Business Needs Match Up

What does your business need when it comes to container trucking?

Delivery from the Port of Oakland to a nearby warehouse? A longer-distance trip to another final destination within California? Secure warehousing of refrigerated and frozen containers? Transloading dry containers near the Port?

These are all core services that our team at Iraheta Bros provides. Our drivers deliver shipping containers across the state and provide drayage services throughout the Oakland area. We’re specialists when it comes to food-grade shipments, but also have deep experience and expertise with many types of dry containers.

We’re spelling this all out to give you a clear picture of our company and the type of work we perform. If your needs don’t align with our skills, we won’t pursue a business relationship. It just won’t do either of us any good.

However, not all intermodal container trucking companies are this straightforward. Some may attempt to take on jobs that are outside of their wheelhouse, so to speak. Make sure any potential partner can speak in-depth about their abilities and knowledge related to the specific work that needs to be completed.

6. Aligning Skills and Expertise With Your Business

To an outsider, intermodal freight transport may seem like it’s full of similarly sized containers. And that those containers are all largely treated the same by the companies that transport them. A dependable container trucking company knows that’s far from the truth.

It’s true that there are only so many sizes and variations of shipping containers. However, proper handling of each and every kind is crucial to keeping a shipment safe and on time. Recognizing the major and minor differences keeps the supply chain moving forward.

Transporting a 40-foot container requires a different chassis than would be used for transporting a 20-foot container. High-cube containers are only a foot taller than a standard container. However, those extra 12 inches could require that a driver take a different route and double-check bridge and overpass clearances.

Confidence and accuracy when making those adjustments is the sign of a strong container trucking partner. Knowing you can count on a company’s drivers to select the right equipment and deliver your load safely and efficiently is valuable. It means you won’t need to worry nearly as much about an incoming or outgoing shipment arriving as intended, without any major issues.

Special Care for Refrigerated Shipping Containers

Refrigerated and frozen shipping containers, also called reefer containers, require even more special attention. Kuehne + Nagel explains the many unique qualities of these containers. That includes their ability to maintain cargo at a specific temperature. There’s also the need to plug refrigerated containers into an external power source to ensure the safety of the cargo.

Refrigerated and frozen containers are reliable as long as they have access to that external power source and have the proper settings in place. Keeping shipments cool or frozen as they move from one mode of transport to another can be complex.

The team of drivers at Iraheta Bros knows how to successfully transport reefer containers. They all receive training in operating and troubleshooting the genset equipment that’s integral to these containers. And they build experience each day they’re on the job.

When refrigerated containers hold packaged foods, produce, and similarly sensitive items, heightened standards for safety apply. And container trucking companies need to complete key tasks, like steam-cleaning food-grade refrigerated and frozen containers, to maintain these vessels.

We prioritize knowledge and expertise with reefer containers among our entire driving team at Iraheta Bros. They know how to select appropriate equipment at the port and steam-clean containers. Our drivers have the expertise needed to ensure your refrigerated or frozen container arrives at its final destination as intended.

Additionally, we operate a full-service, food-grade warehouse in a temperature-controlled environment just a short distance from the Port of Oakland. Advanced technology, 24/7 security, and our consistently high level of service come together to keep your valuable shipments safe in our warehouse.

7. Investigating Shipment Tracking Options

Following a shipping container as it makes its way across the globe may require working with many different businesses to access information. Once your container is loaded onto a carrier’s truck, however, it should be a somewhat easier process.

We’ve already pointed out how important clear and timely communication about a shipment’s status can be. The tools used to track those intermodal shipments are part of that larger conversation.

Be sure that the local container trucking company you work with has the systems in place to share status updates. They should also have the bandwidth to quickly field a phone call or email in an urgent situation. But check if they go a step beyond, using the technology needed to provide accurate information.

8. Container Trucking Company Culture and Values

Businesses that invest in making employees feel safe, satisfied, and engaged can keep those workers on board for longer periods of time.

That means building more expertise within an organization and having a stronger team of professionals available to handle ordinary and exceptional tasks. Company values, the priorities that businesses set for themselves, have a major impact on those employees.

Testing and licensing ensure a certain level of competency in every truck driver. But your business needs more than just the minimum for container trucking and drayage services.

Iraheta Bros was founded on hard work and dedication. Our leaders have deep experience working in the Port of Oakland and as drivers in general.

Part of their vision for a new company was to offer a different environment than the ones they so often worked in. They knew a container company could treat its drivers — and all of its employees — with respect and still offer great customer service.

We expect our staff to give it their all each day and to make smart choices that support the needs of our customers. At the same time, we recognize and value all of that hard work. We focus on positivity and inclusivity, with staff always receiving equitable and dignified treatment.

The result of those values is an established, respected, and successful company. In less than a decade, we’ve built our reputation by respecting and honoring our drivers while holding them to a consistently high standard.

Making Your Choice: Finding a High-Quality Container Trucking Company

We know we shared an awful lot of information in those eight tips that we just shared. But assessing all of those qualities as you look for a container trucking partner can make a big difference for your business.

Container trucking is a complex industry, a distinct part of the larger intermodal freight transport process. Local container trucking companies don’t generally cover anywhere near the same amount of distance in a single trip as do a train or container ship.

However, bringing a container to its final destination or moving it to a ship or train for a major leg of the journey is crucial. That first or last mile (or 100 miles) is just as important for your business as all of the ones in between.

All of this makes choosing a partner to handle your drayage and container trucking needs vital. Your business can’t prosper if its dealing with confusing invoices, a lack of information, or careless delivery. You need a partner you can count on.

Iraheta Bros offers exactly that: A proven and high-performing drayage and container trucking company in the Port of Oakland. Our teams have the knowledge, experience, and access to equipment to make each and every trip to and from the Port a success.

We’re committed to providing the best possible service because we value each and every one of our customers.

Work with Iraheta Bros – Request a Quote Today!

8 Tips to Evaluate Container Trucking Companies to Find the Right One

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