As Customer Needs Evolve, J.B. Hunt Gets Creative

J.B. Hunt isn’t afraid of change — they embrace it, never shying away from developing new, creative solutions that enable greater efficiency and sustainability for customers.

  • Founded: 1961
  • Headquarters: Lowell, Arkansas 
  • A Fortune® 311 company with more than 37,000 employees, 20,000 trucks and 24,000 drivers 
  • Offers multi-modal shipping and carrier solutions across the continental United States, Canada and Mexico 
  • Targeting to reduce carbon emissions by 32% by the year 2034
  • Currently utilizing 4.8 million gallons of bio-based fuels, annually, from Chevron Renewable Energy Group 

From Humble Beginnings to Fortune 311

It all started with the vision of a young couple from Arkansas — Johnnie Bryan (J.B.) Hunt, and his wife, Johnelle Hunt. Starting with just five trucks, under the Hunts’ leadership, the company grew rapidly over the next several decades, ultimately becoming a publicly traded company in 1983, adding intermodal service in 1989 and dedicated transportation service in 1993.

It was around this time that Craig Harper, who now serves as Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) for J.B. Hunt, joined the company. For as much change and growth that happened prior to his arrival, he’s witnessed and contributed extensively to just as much change in the last 31 years since his arrival.

“I remember our first billion-dollar year around the 1993 timeframe,” says Harper. “Last year, we were bumping up against $15 billion in revenue.”

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Embracing the Change

Harper chalks much of this growth up to the team’s willingness to embrace change and get creative in solving customer challenges – something that was ingrained in the culture of its founders early on.

“Through the years, I’ve seen a company that’s not afraid to reinvent itself, to accept challenges and to embrace them,” says Harper. 

Having served as Chief Operating Officer for the bulk of his time at the company, in recent years, his focus has shifted toward advancing the company’s sustainability efforts as CSO. While that job comes with a new title, the initiatives to be more sustainable and efficient are certainly nothing new to J.B. Hunt.

“Our sustainability journey began years ago – we just called it something different,” says Harper. “It was all about increasing efficiency.”

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Driving Lower Carbon Intensity Through Innovation

Over the years, Harper has helped lead many different company initiatives that have substantially reduced emissions, while improving efficiency for customers. 

“Intermodal is a solution we offer that allows our customers to reduce their carbon footprint by approximately 60%,” says Harper. “We also have our J.B. Hunt 360°® platform, which helps directly connect shippers and carriers for freight-match opportunities that significantly reduce empty miles."

Efficiency has always been a focus, but in recent years, customers have increasingly turned to J.B. Hunt to help reduce their Scope 3 emissions.

“We have customers whose supply chain emissions make up roughly 80-90% of their total company emissions,” says Harper. “They’re looking to us for help.”

As customer needs have evolved, so has J.B. Hunt — recently setting a goal of reducing its own carbon emissions intensity by 32% by the year 2034, as compared to a 2019 baseline. A big part of helping them achieve that is a shift toward more bio-based fuels, including renewable diesel and biodiesel.

Integrating Bio-Based Fuels

J.B. Hunt has been integrating biodiesel at various blend levels into their fleet operations for more than a decade, but that has significantly ramped up since 2019 with the help of Chevron Renewable Energy Group — an initiative overseen by Jerrod Mounce, Senior Director of Fuel Procurement & Sustainability at J.B. Hunt.

Starting with a single site in Southern California in 2019, J.B. Hunt began testing UltraClean BlenDTM — a proprietary 80/20 blend of renewable diesel and biodiesel from Chevron Renewable Energy Group. After proven success, that has grown to include multiple bulk fuel sites, amounting to 4.8 million gallons in 2022 alone.  

“The best thing with UltraClean BlenDTM is that it’s essentially a drop-in fuel. It works in your trucks just like traditional diesel fuel,” says Mounce. “Truck performance on renewable and biodiesel is comparable to that of petroleum-based diesel, but with the added advantage of an overall lower carbon intensity.”

Not only have they found UltraClean BlenDTM to be seamlessly integrated without any infrastructure or equipment changes, but they’ve also found it to be a wise financial decision – one that sets them apart with customers looking to effectively reduce Scope 3 emissions.

Renewable diesel and biodiesel offer the greatest greenhouse gas reduction impact available under current reporting guidelines,” says Mounce. “It also makes economic sense due to various state and federal incentives, which is obviously a differentiator in a time when most other emission reduction concepts come at a premium cost.”

Supply Assurance to Grow

Another key factor in J.B. Hunt’s decision to work with Chevron Renewable Energy Group was capacity and supply assurance to confidently grow the percentage of bio-based fuels in their overall fuel mix.

“We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with Chevron Renewable Energy Group for several years now, and we see them having the capacity to continue to expand more and more gallons to us,” says Harper. “And we need that to be able to be in alignment with our customers and help them reach their goals of having a more sustainable solution.”

What's in Store

While J.B. Hunt is exploring many solutions for lowering carbon emissions and meeting their 2034 targets, they recognize not all those solutions are viable to implement across the entire fleet today, and thus, view bio-based fuels as a key component of their lower carbon strategy for many years to come.

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The J.B. Hunt Corporate Logo and J.B. Hunt 360°® are registered trademarks of J.B. Hunt and used with permission. Other trademarks or trade names are used herein and are the property of their respective owners and may be used for identification purposes.   

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