Alvan Motor Freight ceases operations

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Alvan Motor Freight, a family-owned Midwestern regional less-than-truckload motor carrier based in Kalamazoo, Mich., announced Saturday, June 28, that it is ceasing operations after 67 years of service and will be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

“Today is the worst day of my business career,” wrote James Van Zoeren, president and chief executive officer, in a statement posted on the company’s website. “Alvan has had an incredible run, but unfortunately all great things come to an end. Given the extremely competitive nature of our business, we wouldn’t be here today had it not been for the fantastic effort of each and every Alvan employee. However, a number of problems outside of our control have overwhelmed us to the point where we were left without a choice.”

Van Zoeren said those factors include:

  • Ongoing economic difficulties in the Midwestern economy, especially in the automotive sector;
  • The 87-day strike at American Axle, one of Alvan’s top customers. The resulting trickle-down effect that slowed and/or stopped automotive production was detrimental;
  • Overcapacity in the trucking industry, leading to increased competition, pricing pressure and margin erosion;
  • The recent run-up in fuel prices; and
  • The financial crisis in America, drying up liquidity and eliminating potential credit options.
  • “I have had the company formally listed for a significant period of time but just couldn’t find any takers,” Van Zoeren wrote. Alvan has arranged to have the freight that remains in their system to be delivered by Central Transport Inc., Van Zoeren said. “Our goal here was to minimize disruptions in our customer’s operations by delivering their freight in a timely manner.”

    Alvan Motor Freight was founded in 1941 by the Van Zoeren family and currently employs about 525 people. The company has terminals in Kalamazoo; Romulus, Mich.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Saginaw, Mich.; Jackson, Mich.; Mesick, Mich.; Alpena, Mich.; Cincinnati; Richfield, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Perrysburg, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Indianapolis; South Bend, Ind.; and Chicago.

    “Industry consolidation and closures have left Alvan in an extremely unique position as one of a rapidly shrinking number of family-owned carriers left,” Van Zoeren wrote. “Alvan was quickly becoming a dinosaur. Our ability to compete with much larger carriers than ourselves was becoming compromised. Our costs were higher, and we were struggling to keep up on a technological basis. Alvan has battled to the end.”