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The North American Chassis Pool Cooperative on Dec. 6 acquired the Bridgman, Mich.-based chassis manufacturer Pratt Industries Intermodal Chassis from the Nashville-based private equity firm LFM Capital.
The financial terms of the all-cash deal were not disclosed.
NACPC leadership said it bought Pratt with the plan of manufacturing its own 20- and 40-foot maritime chassis to help alleviate the trucking industry’s chronic chassis shortage.
“We bought the assets of Pratt Industries, and that includes a 60-acre parcel of land with a 300,000-square-foot building on it. We’ll have the capacity to build 5,000 to 7,000 chassis a year,” NACPC Chairman Mark George told Transport Topics. “We now own a chassis manufacturing plant where we can manufacture our own chassis to meet our customers’ needs as there is a severe shortage of chassis.”
LFM Capital will retain other aspects of Pratt Industries, including its custom trailer and tank chassis business.
NACPC was formed in 2012 to provide to the trucking industry modern chassis with steel-belted radial tires, LED lighting and anti-lock brakes at fair market prices.
“It’s going to be the most technically advanced chassis that we can make. And it’s needed very badly,” George said.
NACPC is a motor carrier-owned cooperative, and it offers chassis to all qualified companies. NACPC said it operates more than 20,000 chassis across the country at several locations.
“It’s just been a really difficult time to have a steady supply of chassis,” NACPC President Dave Manning told TT. “We’ve got customers in these cities, and we can’t get them sourced domestically or internationally right now. And so we learned about this opportunity, and it will be helpful to us to have the supply that we need to be able to meet our customers’ needs.”
As part of the transaction, Manning will stay in his role at NACPC as president and CEO.
“We’re looking forward to what this means for relieving pressure at ports across the country and supplying our customers with the best available product. We have struggled to meet our customers’ chassis needs this year because of the lack of chassis production availability,” Manning said.
Both Manning and George said they plan to retain Pratt’s executive leadership team and its employees as it ramps up operations and plans to expand in 2022.
“The U.S. manufacturing can’t keep up with that demand. We are all hearing supply chain and chassis issues, so we decided to support our businesses, and we decided to go forward and buy our own manufacturing plant,” NACPC Treasurer and Triple G Express Trucking President Randy Guillot said. “This isn’t going to solve this problem from a Friday to a Monday, and all of a sudden, these chassis are all where they need to be. But certainly, this is another step in the right direction for the supply chain to solve the chassis issues.”
At the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, drayage drivers have complained that the lack of available chassis has been one of the most significant issues when it comes to removing the tens of thousands of empty containers cluttering the ports and slowing down the supply chain. As port workers and drivers reduce the number of containers from nearly 100,000 to nearly 60,000 now, there are still thousands of boxes, sometimes stacked five and six high on top of chassis, that could be used to move cargo.
Pratt Industries Intermodal Chassis was established in 1973 in Chicago as a father-and-son business, and its chassis and other equipment can be found in trucking companies across the country.
Manning and Guillot each served a term as American Trucking Associations chairman and were active in the federation’s government affairs efforts on the federal and state levels.
In January, Manning retired from Nashville-based trucking company TCW, where for 29 years he was president. At the time, he said he planned to spend more time at NACPC working on the challenges of improving the overall quality of chassis in the marketplace and substantially increasing the number available to trucking companies.
In August 2018, NACPC won approval from the Federal Maritime Commission to shift chassis pool operations at the Georgia Ports Authority and the South Carolina Ports Authority to a new entity created by NACPC called the Southern States Chassis Pool.
A chassis pool consists of a group of third-party-owned chassis domiciled at a facility and available to shipping lines and truckers for short-term rental. At the time, the goal was to provide more chassis and better quality equipment to drivers.
“Our goal is and always has been to provide at-cost pricing of high-quality chassis to customers throughout the United States,” Manning said.
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