January 4, 2010 8:10 AM, EST
Wren Family Sells LTL Firm Lakeville Motor Express

Less-than-truckload carrier Lakeville Motor Express has been sold by the Wren family that founded the Minnesota company in 1921 to Roger Wilsey Sr., an LME vice president, and his wife, Shari.

The deal closed Dec. 18, but terms were not disclosed.

“I’m optimistic about the future of this company and the industry. Although we’re in a slow growth mode now, we don’t need a dramatic rebound in the economy to be profitable and successful,” Roger Wilsey, 57, said in an interview.

Wilsey said he arranged for private financing through a non-bank lender.

Lakeville is the nation’s 32nd-largest LTL carrier with revenue topping $80 million last year.

It runs through 10 states in the upper Midwest and is part of the Reliance Network Alliance, an LTL interline agreement the collectively covers North America through LME and six other trucking companies.

John Wren, Lakeville’s CEO until the closing, was chairman of American Trucking Associations in 1998-1999.

With headquarters in New Brighton, LME has about 500 employees, 1,000 tractors and trailers and 34 terminals.

A company statement said the Wilseys have owned a trucking company before. For 65 years the family owned and operated Indianhead Truck Lines until it closed in 1997.

In the United States, the other members of the Reliance Network Alliance are Averitt Express, DATS Trucking, Land Air Express and Pitt Ohio Express. Canada is covered by Canadian Freightways and Epic Express, both of which are units of TransForce Inc.

Wilsey said Lakeville will definitely remain within Reliance because it is an important part of the carrier’s appeal to shippers.

“It allows us to offer coverage throughout North America and is a growing portion of the business,” he said.

Wilsey said freight volumes in the Midwest have tumbled by 20% to 25% because of the recession, but he thinks that cost-cutting coupled with 3% to 4% annual growth “should get us to a stable, profitable level.”

Wilsey will be Lakeville’s CEO and Al Bucher will re-main as president.

By Jonathan S. Reiskin
Associate News Editor