History of FTR

10.28.13 | FTR

With over 270 years of combined experience in the transportation industry, FTR has led the way in its approach and methodology to forecasting. FTR's work is highly respected and used extensively throughout the industry and our work has been published for nearly three decades.

In The Beginning

FTR's U.S. Freight Forecasting Model got its start back in the 70's as a way to understand truck movements. The approach was simple. First, understand all tonnage movements of goods in the U.S. regardless of its mode of transportation. Second, subtract, rail, water and pipeline. The end result was truck. This type of approach is in use today but at a more detailed level.

FTR got it's start from the work of company founder Ed Graham and senior consultant Noël Perry during their time together at Cummins Engines in Columbus, Indiana. Ed and Noel began the painstaking work of developing a comprehensive model of the total transportation market. Their groundbreaking work is still the core basis for all of the data and analysis that FTR puts out on a continuing basis.

Ed took an early retirement from Cummins and immediately began doing consulting work for Cummins, utilizing his extensive knowledge of the truck markets to help guide Cummins' business decisions.

Company Formation

FTR became a formal entity in 1997 with Ed Graham, Steve Graham, Mike Tryon, and Eric Starks as the founding partners. In 2004 Eric took the reins as President and the company has seen substantial growth under his leadership.


From 1997-1999 Mike Tryon and Eric Starks completed a major re-estimation of our principal tool in forecasting freight - FTR’s Input/Output model of domestic U.S. freight transportation. This update allowed for forecasting at a more granular level (200+ commodities tracked) along with adding addtional ability to track and forecast the rail sector. Shortly thereafter FTR began offering the nations first forecast for rail freight. In 2003 we came out with the Railroad Equipment & Deliveries Outlook, an extensive look at the freight markets and their impacts on the outlook for railcar production.

Learn more about our Freight•cast freight model >

Freight Markets

During the first decade of the new millennium FTR was increasing its offerings to the freight transportation markets. First was the Road Ahead (trucking) and Rails Ahead (railroads) publications in 2003. The Road Ahead transitioned after 2008 to become the Trucker's Dashboard, offering a concise overview and short-term outlook for the truck freight industry. In 2004 we began offering our research into the truck driver situation with the introduction of the FTR Driver Labor Market Indicators Report (quite a mouthful!). FTR has been at the forefront of analysing and quantifying the driver situation. Additionally, in October 2007 we published the first Intermodal Monthly Update in partnership with Gross Transportation Consulting. The intermodal offering gave a detailed review of the industry and included our data-driven outlook for intermodal revenue movements. It also highlighted our extensive work on quantifying the modal share effect between over-the-road trucking and rail intermodal.

In 2010 we completed our ensemble with the introduction of our Shippers Update publication. Geared towards transportation managers who manage loads through multiple modes it has a strong emphasis on truck, rail, and intermodal freight - including the introduction of our transport costs outlook by mode. At the same time we renamed all of the current freight publications and framed them under the title Freight Focus Series. Our current publications are Shippers Update, Trucking Update, Intermodal Update, and Rail Update. We rolled the Driver Supply Update into the Trucking update in 2013. We completed a similar conversion of our equipment reports, putting them under the Equipment Focus Series framework. Our current publications are the Truck & Trailer Outlook and the Rail Equipment Outlook.

Learn more about our current Services >

Industry-Defining Events

FTR has an extensive history in putting on industry-leading events. It all started in 1987 in scenic Nashville, Indiana when a handful of small seminars were offered to our Commercial Vehicle customers. These events were designed to allow us to get in front of our customers and educate them about the economy and demand drivers impacting the truck and trailer equipment sectors. This was also a useful way for us to directly engage with customers and help them to better utilize the FTR forecast. The bulk of the meeting was driven by our own content and information. Over the follow two decades these events became industry "go to" meetings but were only specific to the outlook for the commercial vehicle sector.

In the early 2000's FTR was looking for ways of showcasing its industry-leading research into the freight transportation markets, so in 2005 FTR began putting together its own annual conference, with a focus of looking at the total freight transportation system. Our first event, held at the Holiday Inn next to the Indianapolis International Airport, was a great success. It brought together a group of 57 individuals throughout the transportation industry. This meeting was one of a kind and only focused on the North American freight market and the outlook over the next five years. This event was different from our other events as FTR was looking to hear from other industry experts and this was an excellent opportunity to bring in outside speakers and get their perspectives while being able to interact and engage with our customers.

Since then we have seen record numbers each consecutive year and by 2009 we had outgrown our space by the airport. We are fortunate enough to have a beautiful, well preserved, transportation icon in our backyard at the Union Station in downtown Indianapolis. The setting is perfect and Indianapolis has been a great spot for our gathering.

Over time, we have merged our two meetings together and our full conference now encompasses all facets of freight transportation issues and topics that impact the North American market. This one-of-a-kind event incorporates and engages shippers, rail & truck carriers, Wall Street analysts, intermodal players, and equipment suppliers for railcar, truck & trailer -- plus much more, and is continually rated as one of the best run events of the year by our attendees. By 2013 we had grown to over 225 participants with 40+ industry leaders as panelists and presenters. But, you don't have to wait for the once-a-year conference to see our great cast of Experts. They are constantly traveling the country to trade shows, conferences, and company meetings - presenting our transportation intelligence to all kinds of audiences. In addition, you can catch an FTR webinar several times each year - and we plan to increase the number as we move forward.

Learn more about our Events >

A New Era

In late 2013 we completed a major overhaul of our online presence. It is just the latest in a long line of changes that we have done to best serve our customers. We are excited about the changes and improvements that have been made and welcome your questions and comments as we continue to improve and expand our services. In addition to the new site we also came out with a new brand presence. An analytical company like FTR can struggle to properly identify itself to both its customers and prospects so we went through a very thorough process to help you better identify what it is that FTR can do for you and your organization.

FTR | Transportation Intelligence

We have dropped the 'Associates' term and are now just FTR. With our tagline, Transportation Intelligence, we hope that you recognize us as the leaders in understanding the highly complex freight transportation markets.

Learn more about what we do at FTR >

Contact Info

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