Trucking conglomerate Cold Carriers is planning to expand its growing presence in the temperature-controlled trucking sector with more acquisitions in 2018, building on deals it has made during the past few years, its recently named chief operating officer said.
“Cold Carriers offers a compelling opportunity for me to continue to consolidate and grow a footprint of strong, truckload refrigerated carriers and continue to offer a seamless customer experience to shippers and producers throughout the continental U.S.,” said Randy Savoy, who took over as COO in October. In this capacity, he’ll oversee subsidiaries Gantt Trucking, Interide Transportation and Watkins Refrigerated. Savoy previously was vice president of Swift Transportation Co.’s refrigerated division.
“Randy is a seasoned and trusted leader in the temperature-controlled space who is uniquely qualified to drive operational excellence at Cold Carriers now that we are a fleet of 450 tractors and 700 trailers,” said Kenneth Meister, chairman and CEO of Orlando, Fla.-based Cold Carriers. “We are excited that Randy will be joining us as we continue our growth to bring nationwide truckload services to our shippers.”
Meister leads Cold Carriers’ parent KJM Capital, a private equity group. It bought and reorganized a number of regional refrigerated carriers in 2015 and 2016 to create Cold Carriers, an operator serving 40 states from the West to the Southeast.
For 2018, Meister said the company is planning on two or three acquisitions in the Plains, Midwest and possibly the Northeast. In general, KJM is looking for regional firms with 50-250 trucks and revenues of $10-50 million, he said.
“We’re seeking companies that make sense for us, not just to get larger,” said Meister. “We are looking for firms in the right location, the right freight and a culture that fits with us.”
KJM in 2015 purchased Lexington, S.C.-based Gantt and Lakeland, Fla.-based Sunco Carriers Inc., the official name of Watkins Refrigerated. Sunco had been family-owned since the mid-1930s and operated 200 trucks and 400 refrigerated trailers.
In December 2016 KJM purchased Interide Transport of Salt Lake City and Blue Sky Logistics of Smithfield, Utah, both privately held temperature-controlled carriers that operated primarily in the West. KJM said it would integrate Blue Sky’s 30 power units and 35 refrigerated trailers into Interide’s fleet of 100 tractors and 100 reefers.
Meister estimates Cold Carriers’ 2017 revenue will come in around $90 million, which would put Cold Carriers in the top 20 on the Transport Topics sector list of refrigerated for-hire carriers.
A larger footprint would help Cold Carriers expand delivery tactics like relay loads, he said. That would mean the firm could move freight faster while giving drivers more home time.
Meister said KJM’s investors originally entered the refrigerated sector because they saw an opportunity to assemble a network of well-run local carriers, often family-owned, and upgrade their technology so all were connected through a centralized back office that provided purchasing and other operational support.
“Our strategy was to have the firms keep their brands and the driver relationships with their suppliers,” because refrigerated hauling has stricter regulations and customer service is paramount, said Meister.
Regulations in the sector include the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2016 that requires carriers prove that temperatures are maintained throughout the supply chain. In addition, tougher standards from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) transportation refrigeration unit are being phased in. CARB regulations are virtually national due to California’s outsize role as a food producer and shipper.