Heartland Express acquires CCJ Top 250 company Smith Transport

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Heartland Express (CCJ Top 250, No. 42) has acquired Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania-based Smith Transport (No. 111).

Heartland acquired 100% of the equity of Smith and related companies for a cash-free, debt-free enterprise value of $170 million. The Roaring Spring property was acquired from its owners in a separate transaction for $14 million in cash and includes both the trucking terminal and 375,000 square feet of warehouse space that is leased to tenants.

“We are proud to welcome the Smith people, customers and brand to the Heartland Express family,” said Michael Gerdin, Heartland chairman, president and CEO. “We are extremely happy to bring aboard a company with a rich tradition of trucking for more than 40 years. It is truly an honor to have Smith Transport join our team. The Smith companies will continue to operate from Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania, under the leadership of Todd Smith, president, with ongoing support from founder and legend Barry Smith.”

Smith Transport was founded in 1982 and, in addition to its Roaring Spring headquarters, has terminals in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Indiana. Smith primarily provides dry van transportation and other specialized services in the eastern U.S.

Smith operates a fleet of approximately 850 company tractors, with an average age of less than three years, and approximately 2,000 dry van trailers. The modern fleet is not expected to require any out of cycle investment, Heartland said in a press release.

“As an employee-owned company, our goal was to find the best value and the best home for our people for years to come,” said Todd Smith, president of Smith Transport. “We had long thought Heartland was a great fit because their regional presence, respect for professional drivers, and unsurpassed customer service that mirrors our own philosophies. With the ability to pay cash and invest in our headquarters, and the desire for Smith to remain an independent brand operated by the same people, the choice was clear. I’m excited to work with Mike Gerdin and the Heartland team to make this a success for everyone.”

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Gerdin said Heartland was attracted to Smith because of the company’s safe and experienced drivers, its high level of service offered to its customers, and the company’s management.

“Our plan is to keep Smith the same company that is attractive to customers, drivers and other personnel, while using our scale to offer better purchasing, more depth and advantageous cost savings,” Gerdin added. “Our trucking experience is deep across the board with longtime Heartland employees, the knowledge and experience of our Millis leadership, and now adding the Smith attributes to the team. This makes us even stronger as a combined company. The purchase price was funded with existing cash, and the addition of Smith is expected to be immediately accretive to our earnings per share.”

Smith’s founder and Chairman Emeritus Barry Smith said, “Building Smith Transport has been my life’s work, and I could not have found a better home than Heartland for the Smith family. They offer us long-term stability and the opportunity to grow as part of an industry leader, while retaining our own culture and identity. I look forward to being part of the team to ensure a smooth transition.”