The 83rd celebration of the Memphis Carnival highlighted the area’s strong trucking history with  a salute to the industry and presentation of its highest honor to Ed Gatlin, the local founder of Empire Express, according to a report in the Memphis Daily News.  

Started by Gatlin with just a dozen tractors and a similar number of trailers, Empire today has 200 tractors, 550 trailers and 235 employees.

In addition to presenting Ed Gatlin with the carnival’s Chairman’s Award, the festival also honored other area trucking concerns, including Ozark Motor Lines, Intermodal Cartage Co., Builders Transportation, JNJ Express and Mid-South Transport, among others.

Speaking to a group of more than 500 Carnival celebrants, King of Carnival Jim McCullough said:

“The trucking industry is the lifeblood of the economy. Simply put, without trucks the economy stops.”