Warnings of a tough outlook as US trucker numbers show signs of decline
After two years of rapid growth, the number of US trucking operators is set to ...
A major US reefer trucking player will emerge from the acquisition of John Christner Trucking (JCT) by Hirschbach Motor Lines.
The deal will establish an operation with more than 3,000 trucks, 5,000 trailers and about $1bn in annual revenue.
Geographically, the acquisition of JCT complements Iowa-based Hirschbach, which operates primarily east of the Rocky Mountains, as Oklahoma-based JCT has a strong presence on the west coast and covers the southern US states.
“These two organisations should fit together like two puzzle pieces,” said Hirschbach owner & CEO Brad Pinchuk.
“Culturally, these two organisations are in perfect alignment. We’re both driver-centric organisations that focus on taking care of our people so they can take care of our customers.”
The combination of the two reefer trucking firms offers a number of synergies: beyond some common customers, JCT will be able to access trailer pools maintained in various locations by Hirschbach; while the latter can use a brokerage platform operated by JCT, which generates revenues of around $150m.
However, there are no plans for an out-and-out integration. The partners say JCT will continue to operate independently, led by current CEO Danny Christner, who is set to become president of the JCT operation.
Both sides have said customers as well as drivers won’t see any change in operations and that their contracts will not be modified.
This should allay some concerns among customers, given the pricing and capacity situation on the US reefer trucking scene. Capacity has been very tight for months, resulting in high rejection rates and significantly higher charges. Spot rates in mid-January were up nearly 30%, year on year.
Marten Transport, a market leader in the US reefer trucking business, recently reported its highest operating revenue and operating income for any quarter and year in its history. In Q4 21 the company saw a 26.1% increase in net income, which propelled its net result for the full year to $85.4m, an improvement of 22.9%.
And the reefer market is expected to remain buoyant. According to one estimate, it will have climbed from $10.5bn in 2018 to $15bn by 2025.
For Hirschbach, the takeover of JCT is the second acquisition in a year. Last June, it bought another reefer trucking company, Lessor, which brought 200 drivers and 300 temperature-controlled power units into the fold.
The acquisition of JCT is expected to be completed in April. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
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