U.S. Xpress Enterprises is apparently is bringing more of Arnold Transportation Services under its wing.
Chattanooga, Tennessee-based U.S. Xpress, one of the largest privately owned fleets in the country, bought a minority stake in Arnold about 10 years ago in a deal estimated at $6.4 million. It was part of a buyout from investment firm Jefferies Capital Partners by Arnold's management team.
Now, published reports and a driver hotline indicate that U.S. Xpress is bringing most Arnold drivers into the U.S. Xpress fold rather than under what has been operating as an independent subsidiary or "affiliate," as it's listed on the U.S. Xpress website.
Details are still sketchy, but the move involves Arnold’s Jacksonville, Florida, headquarters along with its Duncan, South Carolina, terminal.
According to a report on TheTrucker.com, the deal involves some 600 trucks and about 150 employees, leaving Arnold with about only 500 trucks, based at its Grand Prairie, Texas, location.
Representatives with U.S. Xpress declined to confirm the deal or comment on it to Truckinginfo.com, despite earlier promises a release would be issued earlier this week. There was no response to an email sent to Arnold Transportation.
However, a driver hotline number with a recorded message from U.S. Xpress management seemed to confirm the move.
“We have an opportunity to move the Arnold Southeast drivers and operations located in Jacksonville, Fla., and Duncan, S.C., to U.S. Xpress," said Eric Fuller, U.S. Xpress COO, in the recording. “This is happening for a number of reasons; U.S. Xpress is currently seeing demand levels we haven't seen in a number of years and turning down 5,000 to 8,000 orders a week. With additional capacity, we can capitalize on those opportunities.”
U.S. Xpress CEO and Chairman Max Fuller said this change will take place in about the next 30 days, telling drivers they will continue to operate under the Arnold banner until they can complete paperwork for U.S. Xpress and get the name changed on their truck doors.
The buyout is likely to mean more miles for Arnold drivers, according to the recorded driver message, up from a current average of 1,700 miles a week up to the U.S. Xpress average of 2,100 to 2,200.
The recording did not indicate whether Arnold’s Austell, Ga., terminal was included in the sale, while the story from TheTrucker.com indicates it is.
In late 2012, U.S. Xpress announced a merger of its Arnold Transportation Services with LinkAmerica Corp., a Ft. Worth-based truckload and logistics carrier serving the Southeast and Southwest, which was purchased from Tenex Capital Management, a New York-based investment firm. The combined company operated under the Arnold name and was jointly owned by Tenex Capital and U.S. Xpress.
U.S. Xpress is ranked 18th on Transport Topics newspaper’s list of the top 100 for-hire carriers in the U.S. Canada. It reportedly had $1.6 billion in revenue in 2013 with 9,700 employees, 6,800 company-owned tractors, 621 owner-operators and 17,000 trailers.
Arnold Transportation is ranked 92nd on the list with reportedly $237 million in revenue last year and more than 1,400 employees, including 1,250 company owned tractors and nearly 4,300 trailers, in addition to almost 150 owner-operators.