- Leonard’s Express is acquiring Holman Transportation Services, according to a press release issued Thursday. Holman Transportation hauls in the food and grocery, dairy, and frozen food industries.
- Holman Transportation has about 189 employees and some 164 vehicles, according to the announcement. Its customers are located in the Western U.S. and the Pacific Northwest. Leonard's Express will take over those lanes, as the Holman brand is discontinued.
- "[The acquisition] will help us add to our existing refrigerated capacity allowing us to better serve our current customer base and additionally, it will help us expand our coverage in the Western United States," Ken Johnson, CEO of Leonard’s Express, said in the press release.
Experts predicted 2021 would be a big year for M&A. The pandemic stifled deal-making, but it also put a target on specific sectors.
Demand for final-mile services grew as shoppers turned to e-commerce, presenting a solid business case for J.B. Hunt's acquistion of Mass Movement last November.
Demand for refrigerated transport followed a similar pattern, when food flew off grocery store shelves. Reefer spot rates sailed higher than contract rates around July 4 of last year, DAT principal analyst Dean Croke said in February. National reefer spot rates in March averaged $2.94, up 25 cents from February, according to DAT.
James Richardson & Sons started 2021 off with the acquisition of Bison Transort, which offers reefer services and is one of Canada's largest carriers.
And TFI International, a prolific buyer of transport firms that recently purchased UPS Freight, has scooped up a couple reefer businesses. Its acquisition of MCT Transportation brought refrigerated assets onboard, as did Fleetway Transport, which TFI bought in February.
Leonard's Express Chief Marketing Officer Mike Riccio said via email the company's long-term strategy "has always been to expand into the refrigerated market." The most-recent acquisition was not driven by the pandemic, he said.
"We feel that with the growth in the fresh food trend, [t]he increase in local perishable foods, and food regulations that there is a market opportunity in this space," he wrote.
Leonard's Express has been in the reefer business for more than 40 years, and has primarily hauled produce from the West Coast and Florida to the Northeast, according to its website. It also offers dry van, intermodal and warehousing; three of its warehouses are in New York, and one is in Delware.
The acquisition gives Leonard's Express access to Holman Transportation's lanes, which serve 39 states in the Northwest, Southwest, Midwest and Southeast. Holman Transportation is based in Caldwell, Idaho.