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Intermodal trucking and freight brokerage company Mark-It Express Logistics announced Jan. 17 that is has acquired logistics and for-hire transportation company Spirit Trucking Co.
It is one of several deals Mark-It President Tony Apa told Transport Topics the Chicago-based company has in the pipeline.
In a news release, Mark-It said the deal for Spirit — also a Chicago firm — will help boost business across its three satellite terminals in Detroit, Kansas City, Kan., and Chicago. The facilities will have increased capacity to service customers and reduce equipment, fuel and labor costs.
“The combined run rate will be just shy of $60 million in top-line revenue,” Apa told TT. “There’ll be about 175 trucks combined across the three terminals that we already have.”
The company hopes the larger asset portfolio will help customers, drivers and supply chain partners alike. But this most recent deal isn’t where the plan for expansion ends. Apa see a great deal of opportunities to gain market share in the region and elsewhere.
“Our continued growth plan will be both organically and through acquisitions while trying to roll out into a national presence within the intermodal trade space,” he said. “To have the national presence, to be able to leverage the scalability and pricing, the terminal networks and the capacity, along with our customer base, is really where we see our future.”
The Spirit name will be phased out as its operating assets are integrated into Mark-It. Spirit founder and President Robert Denton and other owners — some of whom are near retirement age — will not remain with the company.
“Tony is going to be very smart in how he builds this thing going forward,” Jonathan Britva, a principal at investment bank Republic Partners, told TT. “I think his leadership style and what he is building will be very attractive to a lot of other companies and individuals. I think they’re going to want to join what he’s building. This is hopefully the first step towards some other potential acquisitions.”
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Britva added that he was brought on as an adviser on the deal along with potential future acquisitions. He’ll be helping the company to navigate those negotiations while narrowing down the companies to the ones that make the most sense to acquire.
“We don’t want to devolve too much,” Britva said. “I can say we are looking at a handful of opportunities at the moment. There have been other things that have come onto our plate since this acquisition has been announced.”
Apa said, “The way we look at it, this is a perfect period of time in this industry, due to a lot of market conditions, business conditions and overall industry factors, which have created a perfect time for someone with our infrastructure, our team and our vision looking out to put multiple acquisitions together.”
Apa added that many companies in the intermodal trade space are seeing their leadership age out. They also are having difficulty adapting to ever-evolving technology, compliance demands and changing customer needs — all of which require significant investments.
“The intermodal trade industry as we know it from containerization is really only roughly 40 years old,” Apa said. “They’re going to have to put a large capital injection into their company to get compliant with all the new technology, all the new customer requirements, all the new reporting requirements. We’ve done that ahead of time.”
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