The family of Charles “Shorty” Whittington and a group of top executives at Grammer Industries Inc. have teamed with Stellex Capital Management to acquire the bulk chemical hauler from another investment firm, Linx Partners.
Terms of the buyout were not disclosed. Linx has owned a majority stake in the company since 2012.
“This is an exciting inflection point in the evolution of the North American chemicals industry supply chain,” Michael Stewart, a managing partner of Stellex Capital, said in a statement released Oct. 2. “We look forward to making future investments in the Grammer platform.”
According to Stewart, Grammer is positioned to benefit from industry trends, including an upswing in chemical production in the United States, an increase in logistics outsourcing and continuing market consolidation in trucking.
The company started as an over-the-road transporter of grain and dry fertilizer in 1968 and now operates a fleet of 350 tankers that transport anhydrous ammonia, liquefied natural gases, carbon dioxide, nitric acid, cryogenic liquids and other bulk hazardous materials for more than 120 customers to more than 1,000 delivery points across the country.
“This is a great development for Grammer’s customers, suppliers, employees and owner-operators,” Grammer CEO Bart Middleton said. “The company has a demonstrated track record of growth, and we will continue to expand and deepen Grammer’s position as the industry’s logistics partner of choice.”
Middleton, who joined Grammer as chief financial officer in 2013 and succeeded company founder Whittington as CEO in 2016, told Transport Topics that he expects the new ownership group to provide the capital needed to grow the business and to make additional acquisitions.
“We want to continue in the commodities we’re in and maybe add some chemicals,” Middleton said. “We’re a niche hazmat hauler, and we want to stay in that range as much as possible.”
Middleton said the company completed three acquisitions in the past two years and is on track to generate revenue of $70 million this year.
(Grammer Industries Inc.)
Grammer is “top tier” supplier of anhydrous ammonia for industrial and agricultural applications, Middleton added, and over the years the company has played a key role in education and training of emergency response personnel for dealing with liquefied petroleum gas and anhydrous ammonia in crashes.
In 1999, the company started a subsidiary, Vickery Transportation, which provides bulk liquid hazardous and nonhazardous waste transportation services.
As part of the Stellex buyout, according to Middleton, Shorty Whittington will step down from his position on Grammer Industries’ board of directors and his son John, a vice president, will take his place.
Both men have been active in industry trade groups with Shorty Whittington serving as chairman of American Trucking Associations in 2008-09 and John as chairman of the Indiana Motor Truck Association and the Agricultural Food Transporters Conference of ATA.
In April, John Whittington was elected chairman of the National Tank Truck Carriers Inc., another trade association affiliated with ATA that represents bulk transporters.
The Whittington family is also involved in a variety of other businesses, including the production of biodiesel and real estate development.