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McLean Trucking Company

by Robert E. Ireland, 2006Malcolm Mclean, founder of Mclean Trucking Co. Image available from PBS.

McLean Trucking Company Patch. Image available from NC Historic Sites. In 1931, when Malcolm P. McLean began working at a service station, North Carolina was rapidly becoming a major east-west transport route. Recognizing the potential for motor freight carrying, the Maxton native bought his first truck in 1934 and began hauling dirt for WPA road construction projects. Later, he transported textiles to New York. By the mid-1960s, the McLean Trucking Company had become the fifth-largest trucking company in America, with a fleet of 5,000 trucks and trailers and 65 terminals scattered throughout 20 states. The Winston-Salem terminal was considered the largest in the world when it was constructed in 1954.

McLean (who died in 2001 at age 87) sold his company in 1955 for $6 million and bought a small tanker firm, which he renamed Sea-Land. After becoming a pioneer in container shipping, he cashed in those shares for $160 million in 1969.




Thomas C. Parramore, Express Lanes and Country Roads: The Way We Lived in North Carolina, 1920-1970 (1983).

Additional Resources:

Article in Chicago Tribune:

North Carolina Digital Collections search results for McLean Trucking Company

Image Credit:

Malcolm Mclean, founder of Mclean Trucking Co. Image availabl from PBS. Available from (accessed June 18, 2012).

McLean Trucking Company Patch. Image available from NC Historic Sites. Available from June 19, 2012).


Origin - location: 



Hello Floyd,

Unfortunately, the McLean Company referenced here filed for bankruptcy in 1986 and is no longer in business. There is a New York Times archived article about the shut down which you can read here:

I hope this helps! Please feel free to post again if you have any more comments or questions.

Best Wishes,

Christopher Luettger - NC Government and Heritage Library


My uncle, Harvey L. Mullins drove for McClean all his life. He lived in Winston-Salem, NC. Does anyone here remember him?


Oh my gosh, I think my dad drove with him. O.C. Smith. I remember hearing him talk about “Mullins”. I’ll ask him if it is the same one!


I worked at McLean Trucking at their Kearny NJ location. Great company and they treated their employees with great respect. So sorry to see that it shut down,they were a great company to work for. Rest in peace, Malcolm McLean...


In Dan Egan’s new book -“The Death and Life of the Great Lakes” -Malcolm McLean is credited with inventing the idea of truck - based shipping containers, thereby disrupting further interest in expanding the St Lawrence Seaway, the Erie Canal and the Welland Canal. Is this accurate ?


Judson and Malcolm grew up best friends in Maxton Co. N Carolina. My grandmother was a McLean from same county. Any relatives out there ?????


My father, actually an uncle who raised me, drove for Hayes Freight Lines and then McLean when it bought Hayes in 1958. He loved trucking and was seventh in seniority when he retired in '68.


I worked for McLean as a icty driver at their Chester/Wilmingotn terminal (outside Chester, PA) from 1977 to 1982. They were a good company at the time....until they bought Wolverine Express out of Holland, Michigan. After then, it was a downward spiral......When David Wanchik took over as presdent, thats when they wanted a 15% pay cut. Luckily, I had already left and went on the ABF by then.


They really went down when they purchased ONC at the time of deregulation, every piece of ONC equipment I drove or drug across the Midwest was 100% pure junk, had two trailers break in half on me and I know of several more. I left for greener pastures 6 months before they folded up the tent and gave up.


McLean presidents.......Malcolm McLean, Paul Davis, Amory Mellen and David Wanchick.....I worked for McLean from July 1958 until January 1986 at Winston Salem N. C.

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