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Logistics firm AIT is keeping up its rapid pace of acquisitions with the takeover of Intelligent Logistics, an Austin-based firm that provides forwarding, cartage, warehousing and truckload brokerage.

It is AIT’s second acquisition this year and the seventh since the start of 2018.

The deal adds 70 staff and two facilities pf 13,300 sq metres of warehousing in two facilities in Austin and San Antonio to AIT’s profile. Intelligent serves verticals including technology, food and beverages, automotive, manufacturing and e-commerce reverse logistics.

“Intelligent’s business mix was interesting,” said Ray Fennelly, AIT’s chief information officer.

One of the areas where AIT was looking to strengthen its presence through acquisitions is truckload brokerage and, in terms of shipment count, the takeover of Intelligent boosts AIT’s presence in that sector by 30-40%, according to Mr Fennelly.

But the most important attraction of Intelligent was the cultural fit, he added. It gives employees on both sides a feeling of strong synergy, he said.

Such a fit certainly makes integration easier, adds Mr Fennelly. The integration of Intelligent’s forwarding business has already been done and the truckload brokerage will take about two months, he reckons, as Intelligent has used a different system.

AIT has kept a similarly rapid pace with its recent takeovers: Multimodal International, a customs broker bought in early June, has been fully integrated; as has Fiege Forwarding, a German cargo agent acquired in December.

UK-based delivery specialist Panther Logistics, which AIT bought in November, is an outlier and still operates under its own brand, due to its very specific business model, said Mr Fennelly.

With Intelligent, AIT has bought seven operators since early 2018, and management has made it clear it is not at the end of the acquisition trail yet, with its eyes on several markets. The primary focus for international expansion is on Europe and Asia, particularly South-east Asia.

This does not exclude other regions, though. Mexico is one country in the crosshairs, which is likely to rise in importance as North American firms consider near-shoring to reduce the risk of supply chain disruption.

For the most part acquisitions are determined by three aspects: geography; vertical market expertise; and a business culture similar to AIT’s, Mr Fennelly said.

Management has stressed that, ultimately, its expansion is “driven by its customers”. The market conditions of the past year, along with the takeovers, have brought new clients to its books, but this has not significantly shifted its client mix,  said Mr Fennelly.

But not all expansion is through takeovers – one sector going particularly strong for AIT is e-commerce. Last September, the company launched an economy service for large shipments at a time when the large integrated parcel carriers were slapping hefty surcharges on such e-commerce traffic.

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