It appears that there is a fresh merger to talk about! Heartland Express is purchasing dry van carrier Smith Transport for $170 million. Drivers should have an easy time with this transition as Heartland Chairman, President and CEO Michael Gerdin informed FreightWaves’ John Kingston that Smith Transport will continue to operate as a separate company. Smith Transport is known for its iconic logo with black paint scheme with gold flake wings around a teal “S.”
Smith Transport is a no slouch company, putting over $200 million in the company coffers last year. Heartland Express itself is known for its acquisitions, particularly buying out Mills Transfer back in 2019. Mergers and acquisitions have been stagnant for the last few years, partly due to record freight rates covering weaknesses at a number of carriers.
Heartland was also in the news for selling its Rancho Cucamonga, California, terminal to Realterm, a logistics-based global investment manager. I’ve seen this happen before – companies building new terminals, then transferring ownership to another company. The property brought top dollar according to news accounts, because it was a top-tier facility that might not be built in today’s environment due to many cities and municipalities forcing trucking companies out.
I’ll be monitoring the situation as it develops. I don’t expect any fleet shrinkage from Smith Transport. There’s been no indication that drivers will be sidelined since there’s that 80,000 driver shortage enterprise carriers keep talking about.