The year before its acquisition by Con-way, CFI chairman and CEO Glenn Brown posed with the company’s original Kenworth T600 (right) and a 2006 version, celebrating the "Anteater's" 20th anniversary. Photo courtesy Kenworth

The year before its acquisition by Con-way, CFI chairman and CEO Glenn Brown posed with the company’s original Kenworth T600 (right) and a 2006 version, celebrating the "Anteater's" 20th anniversary. Photo courtesy Kenworth

Longtime employees of TransForce’s new acquisition in Joplin, Mo., are proudly digging out their old CFI shirts, as the company founded in 1951 as Contract Freighters Inc. goes back to its roots and its name under its new ownership.

Late Thursday, the Canadian-based trucking giant TransForce announced it had bought the former Con-way Truckload business from XPO Logistics for $558 million. It’s the third acquisition for CFI in the past decade. In 2007, CFI was purchased by Con-way and became Con-way Truckload. A little over a year ago, XPO bought Con-way. It looked into selling off the truckload operation, which didn’t fit well into its global logistics business, but decided earlier this year after looking at several offers that it would keep it.

Then TransForce, as part of its strategy to expand further into the U.S., approached XPO about an acquisition.

Katlin Owens, communications coordinator senior, told HDT that CFI will operate as a stand-alone company, and that longtime employees are thrilled.

“We have a lot of CFI employees who have been here a long time; we have an extremely long tenure for our employees,” she said. “The building is full of people who have brought out their CFI shirts from before 2007 when we were bought by Con-way.”

Owens notes that through both the Con-way and XPO acquisition, the Joplin-based operations maintained their own IT, communication, HR departments, etc. “They’re basically going to wind us up and let us go,” she says. “There’s going to be a bit of untangling, but we are in a fantastic position as far as our employee base. We’ve got the skills and experience to be successful.”

Publicly traded, TransForce operates across Canada and the United States through its various subsidiaries. With approximately $3 billion in revenue in truckload, package and courier, LTL, and logistics, TransForce has grown rapidly through a number of acquisitions. Truckload is now its largest segment, representing nearly 50% of its total revenue. CFI will be its largest truckload company in the U.S.

In a letter to customers, CFI President Tim Staroba said, “TransForce’s acquisition strategy of acquiring standalone entities that operate independently has proven to be extremely successful and we are honored to be part of the TransForce group of companies going forward.”

A standing-room-only crowd of CFI employees at the Joplin, Mo., headquarters learn about the transition. Photo: CFI

A standing-room-only crowd of CFI employees at the Joplin, Mo., headquarters learn about the transition. Photo: CFI

While being part of a global company such as XPO gave CFI employees a new global perspective, an appreciation for the world of publicly traded companies and for business measures such as EBITDA, Owens noted that CFI employees are looking forward to being able to focus more on the communities where it is located, both in its headquarters city of Joplin, as well as at terminals in Michigan, Arkansas, Texas and Mexico. (CFI has a long-established cross-border operation with Mexico and that will continue.)

“Charity is a huge part of who we are,” Owens said. Employees just raised nearly $40,000 to distribute to its local communities to make the holidays brighter for children and elderly in need, but some programs had been put on hold after the XPO acquisition.

“We have charitable programs we have put on for 20 years that were put on hiatus when XPO came. We’re going to be able to return to being more involved.”

Will CFI go full retro and bring back the old font for the logo? Too early to say, Owens said -- after all, they've only known about this for less than a day.

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