History

Clarence E. McBride, our founder, was born in Craigford, Alabama in 1910. At the age of six, C. E. purchased a goat and a cart from a neighbor and promptly contracted with the local railroad station to haul the mail from the depot to the Post Office. Another American Capitalist; born out of adversity and hard work. As a teenager, C. E. was fascinated with all motors and anything mechanical. This interest and ability proved to be important a few years later.


In 1943, C. E. purchased Colonial Fast Freight Lines in Birmingham, Alabama. From its beginning through the end of World War II, C. E. personally maintained the majority of his equipment, solicited freight, attended tariff classes and drove one of the tractors.


By 1949, a new horizon appeared; Frozen foods! For the next several years, C. E. worked diligently assisting in the design of the first refrigerated trailers. He obtained a patent for insulation design, which he gave to the industry. His design is still the standard for many types of insulation, including most refrigerated trailers currently being manufactured. This design also sparked the beginning of Colonial Refrigerated Transportation, Inc. Colonial moved its corporate office from Birmingham, AL to Knoxville, TN in 1974, where it remains today.


In 1975, C. E. appointed his beloved wife, Lura McBride, as President of Colonial Fast Freight Lines and Colonial Refrigerated Transportation, Inc. and his brother-in-law, John Hill as Vice President. He was setting the stage for the transition to new management and new ownership. Lura and John were a strong and resilient team and took Colonial through some of its tougher years, DEREGULATION.









On April 1, 1981 C. E. McBride passed the reins to the family. Lura resigned as President and CEO and became Chairman of the Board. John Hill was named President and Thomas McBride became Executive Vice President. John was instrumental in Colonial obtaining approval from the government to self-insure its auto liability. In 1986 Colonial became the second motor carrier in the industry to achieve this status. With his vision and determination to promote safety, Colonial developed a strong and effective self-insurance program. In 1983, due to the diversity in commodities being hauled, the company name was changed to Colonial Freight Systems, Inc.




In 1996, due to declining health, John Hill was named President Emeritus and Thomas "Tom" McBride became President and CEO. During the leadership of Tom, Colonial has continued to operate in a profitable manner with its primary focus on safety and conservative growth. Tom has always believed that Colonial's most important assets were behind the wheels of the trucks and has always demanded that all Contractors and Drivers be treated with the respect they deserve.








In January 2014, Tom decided it was time for someone else to become President and CEO. The Board chose Ruby McBride, Tom's wife, to step up to the position. Ruby has an extensive 38 year background in the transportation industry; including operating her own brokerage company, working as a commissioned Agent and Terminal Manager for multiple motor carriers as well as working sales and dispatch. In November 2006, Tom asked Ruby to take over Colonial's Safety Department. Since 2006, Ruby has worked diligently to ensure that Colonial's safety program remains one of the best in the industry. She has accepted her new role with enthusiasm and excitement and appreciates the wonderful management team that she has by her side to take Colonial into the future.