Cargo-securement training at WTI, one of the open-deck carriers in the Daseke family of companies .  Photo: Daseke Inc.

Cargo-securement training at WTI, one of the open-deck carriers in the Daseke family of companies. Photo: Daseke Inc.

Flatbed fleet operator Daseke Inc. became a public company on Feb. 27 by completing its previously announced merger with Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. II (NASDAQ: HCAC, HCACU, HCACW).

The deal included HCAC changing its name to Daseke, Inc. The company said that its common stock and warrants began using the ticker symbols “DSKE” and “DSKEW,” respectively, on the Nasdaq Capital Market at the start of trading on Feb. 28.

Daseke calls itself “a leading consolidator of the highly fragmented $133-billion open deck freight market in North America.” Since it launched in 2009, the company has grown revenue both organically and through acquisitions from $30 million to more than $650 million (estimated) in 2016. That represents a compound annual growth rate of approximately 55%.

Daseke said it believes it is the largest owner of open deck equipment and the second largest provider of open deck transportation and logistics solutions by revenue in North America. Across its nine trucking companies, it fields approximately 3,000 tractors and 6,000 trailers. The company serves customers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico through more than 40 terminals across the U.S.

“Our vision from the start was to become a public company so we could have access to the capital markets in order to continue our focused consolidation strategy,” said Daseke Inc. Chairman and CEO Don Daseke. “We believe we have an acquisition pipeline that could enable us to double Daseke’s adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization over the next three years, and we believe this business combination positions us to meet our 2017 consolidation objectives.”

He pointed out that Daseke holds “less than a 1% share of this highly fragmented open deck freight market, and we believe we have a tremendous opportunity for future growth and continued market penetration.”

Daseke also advised that the merger supports the company’s approach to its employees. “From the beginning, our plan was to have a stock program for all of our employees, including an industry-first public stock plan for our company drivers,” he explained. “They have a very tough job, and we respect them greatly. Giving our people the opportunity to be owners in Daseke is a great day for me on a very personal level.

“We are just now making it to first base in our strategy to build the premier specialized, open deck transportation company in North America,” he added. “We could not have chosen a better partner than the team at HCAC and are excited to become a Nasdaq-listed public company.”

Chairman and CEO of Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp II Dan Hennessy noted that Daseke is the first trucking company to go public since 2010. “We have made a powerful combination: HCAC’s industrial focus and capital market expertise is now coupled with Daseke’s experienced management team and their consistent track record of successfully consolidating the open deck specialized transportation market,” he stated. “We look forward to assisting in Daseke’s continued growth as directors of the combined company.”

With the closing of the deal, HCAC Chairman and CEO Daniel J. Hennessy and President, COO and Director Kevin Charlton have joined the board of directors of the combined company. The board now consists of eight members, including Daseke Chairman and CEO Don Daseke and Executive Vice President and CFO Scott Wheeler, as well as four additional independent directors.

Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. II was advised on the transaction by Stifel, UBS Investment Bank, Cantor Fitzgerald & Co., BMO Capital Markets and XMS Capital Partners, LLC, with Sidley Austin LLP and Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP as legal counsel. Daseke was advised by Cowen and Company with Vinson & Elkins LLP as legal counsel.

Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. II described itself as a special-purpose acquisition company. It was founded by Daniel J. Hennessy “for the purpose of effecting a merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses.”

Related-- Q&A: Don Daseke on Going Public

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David Cullen

David Cullen

Business/Washington Contributing Editor

Washington Contributing Editor David Cullen comments on the positive and negative factors impacting trucking – from the latest government regulations and policy initiatives coming out of Washington DC to the array of business and societal pressures that also determine what truck-fleet managers must do to ensure their operations keep on driving ahead.

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