The U.S. economy is in recession and truck sales are well below replacement rates, but America's top 500 private fleets continue to grow their share of the country's total commercial truck population. The companies included in the sixth annual Fleet Owner 500 survey operate nearly 1.16 million trucks and tractors, up from 1.09 million in the 2008 survey. With just over 8 million commercial vehicles running in the U.S., that means America's 500 largest private fleets account for roughly 14% of all the trucks on the road.

Private fleets are everywhere, filling critical roles in businesses that run the gamut from manufacturing to construction to power generation. They account for over two-thirds of all commercial vehicles in the country, yet remain nearly invisible as they keep our telephones ringing, our factories productive, our supermarkets stocked, our buildings rising, our gas tanks full, and our garbage cans empty.

The Fleet Owner 500 was created to shine a light on this important segment of trucking, individually naming the largest company-owned fleet operations in the country. The rankings are based on total power units controlled by a fleet, which we break down by trucks and tractors. Although the number doesn't factor into the ranking, individual fleet trailer numbers are also included in the survey, as are general industry categories. The data is collected by Fleet Owner's FleetSeek (fleetseek.com) using a number of public and proprietary sources that are verified by follow-up telephone interviews with fleet managers.

This year's survey welcome's 80 new companies to the Fleet Owner 500 ranks — 62 that hadn't made the cutoff in previous years, but grew enough to be included this year, and 18 new companies uncovered by FleetSeek. For the 482 companies where we had data for both this year and last, 112 had a decline in power units, 161 remain the same and 209 reported an increase.

The top 10 fleets showed little movement compared to last year's survey, with only one new company moving into that group. Looking at the nine general industry categories, the two related to the devastated home building market — concrete and construction — predictably saw equipment numbers drop from the 2008 report. However, the other seven industries showed fleet growth despite the overall economic doldrums of 2008.

In addition to this print version of the 2009 Fleet Owner 500, you can find the survey rankings on our web site (fleetowner.com). Reprints are also available, as is a database version with more detailed fleet information. For ordering and price information, contact Reggie Lawrence at rlawrence@fleetowner.com.

And if you believe your fleet should be part of next year's Top 500, send contact information to Ron Roth at rroth@fleetseek.com.