Heartland Express has a reputation for profitability in an industry notorious for tight margins.

Heartland Express has a reputation for profitability in an industry notorious for tight margins.  

Photo: Heartland Express

Heartland Express Inc., one of North America’s largest truckload carriers, has acquired dry van truckload carrier Smith Transport Inc. and related entities for approximately $170 million.

Founded in 1982, Smith Transport is an asset-based truckload carrier with about 850 company tractors and 2,000 dry van trailers. Headquartered in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania, with terminal locations in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Indiana, Smith primarily provides dry van transportation and other specialized services in the eastern United States.

The Smith companies will continue to operate from Roaring Spring under the leadership of Todd Smith, president, with ongoing support from founder Barry Smith.

Heartland Express, based in North Liberty, Iowa, has a reputation for having one of the best operating margins in an industry notorious for tight margins.  

“We were attracted to this opportunity for three main reasons,” explained Michael Gerdin, chairman, president, and CEO of Heartland Express, in a news release. “The safe and experienced professional drivers, the high level of service offered to a blue-chip customer base, and the management depth that demonstrate the ability to continue operating independently and profitably. 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.”

It's the first acquisition for Heartland since it bought Millis Transfer in 2019. Previous acquisitions during the past decade include Interstate Distributor Co. and Gordon Trucking.

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