BRIEF THOUGHTS ON ACQUISITION OF TRUCKLOAD CARRIERS

Over the past couple of years I spoke to a few searchers who considered acquisition of a transportation company. I have over 15 years of experience in the space (asset based and 3PL) and figured that it makes sense to summarize my thoughts on the situation.

Here's my thesis - majority of the companies for sale on the various intermediary sites are common carriers. These companies are the opposite to what the ETA model stands for - "buying dull, enduringly profitable business". Most common carriers of the size that fits this model are a commodity:
- The contracts are just a notch above "not worth the paper they are written on."
- Driver turnover in the industry hovers around 100%.
- Significant portion of these companies use owner operators (OO)/contractors, it is positioned as a benefit, but in reality, these OO can leave the company at will, within minutes of deciding to do so.
- These companies are one major accident away from going out of business, it might sound extreme, but I have more than one example of this happening.

In certain situations these companies can be quite profitable, last year is a perfect example, but I would strongly encourage anyone interested in these businesses to look over[redacted]year history and be very thorough.

There are some exceptions to this - highly specialized companies with unique equipment/requirements can be a good acquisition target, for example - a carrier that just does flower distribution for Trader Joe, but they are not very common.
In conclusion - if you see a trucking company for sale with 30 owner operators that claims to have contracts with 10,000 brokers, hence well diversified - walk away. I understand this information might be rudimentary for anyone who has seen this business from the inside and in a lot of cases, SBA could be a good gate keeper, but hopefully it will help some new searchers who are not familiar with the industry.



share: