Burris Logistics and Trinity Logistics merge

Trinity’s brokerage floor is shown in this PHOTO COURTESY OF TRINITY LOGISTICS

Two of the largest third-party logistics providers (3PLs) in lower Delaware – warehousing, procurement and coldchain-focused Burris Logistics, and top 20 freight brokerage Trinity Logistics, announced that they have merged. Trinity will effectively become a brokerage arm of Burris and will continue operating under its own brand.

Burris Logistics, a $3.5 billion revenue 3PL, and Trinity Logistics, a $550 million revenue brokerage, are both multi-generational, family-owned businesses and are located about 23 miles away from each other. Donnie Burris, the CEO of Burris Logistics, and Jeff Banning, the CEO of Trinity, told FreightWaves they’ve been friends for years.

“Over the last several months, through conversations between the two of us about the goals we have for our businesses, we’ve been looking to diversify and grow – both of us,” Burris said. “Putting Burris and Trinity together makes a lot of good sense for a lot of reasons.”

Burris explained that both companies have cultures committed to service excellence and are run with a servant leadership style. Just as importantly, they offer complementary, non-overlapping services.

“Burris is a provider of supply chain solutions, a lot of distribution, even involving demand planning, procurement of inventory, and we’re heavy in the temperature-controlled space,” Burris said. “We’re in the freight brokerage game as well, but not nearly as much as Trinity. Rolling it into our current service offering will create a much stronger total solution for our customers.”

“This freight brokerage piece is important because we want to offer a complete end-to-end service solution and let customers focus on what’s important to them and what they’re good at,” said Nick Falk, Burris Logistics president of freight management.

The Burris-Trinity merger was announced at a time when deal-making in transportation and logistics is proceeding at a furious pace, fueled by large sums of private equity capital entering the space and the pressure that freight brokerages have come under to consolidate. The Burris executives said they don’t expect to realize major ‘synergies’ from the merger – which makes sense given that Trinity’s freight brokerage does not significantly overlap with Burris’ business – but that there are opportunities for cross-selling freight from Burris’ existing customer base to the brokerage.

Jeff Banning said that Trinity also saw an opportunity to increase asset utilization in Burris’ dedicated fleet of about 250 tractors.

“Thirty percent of our 5,000 customers are refrigerated customers, and I also think there are a lot of backhaul opportunities with their fleet to keep their trucks loaded,” Banning said.

In terms of future growth, Burris and Banning were on the same page – they aren’t chasing growth for the sake of growth, but want to perform in excellence.

“Donnie’s and Trinity’s philosophy is that we’ve never wanted to be the biggest, but we want to be the best at everything we do,” Banning said.

According to Banning, Trinity Logistics achieved a 15 percent compound annual growth rate over the past 10 years, but he declined to name a “right size” for Trinity under the Burris umbrella.

“We plan on diving into [growth plans] in the next couple of months,” Banning said.

Banning said that technology and market-driven transformations in the freight brokerage and broader logistics space were creating uncertainty for executives about the future of the industry. He cited a study in which 47 percent of logistics executives responding to a survey said they had no idea where the industry was headed next.

“It won’t be static in the next five years,” Banning said. “Customer expectations are growing in visibility and the technology we’re offering. Joining Burris quadruples our tech spend. Everything is going to be changing, and that is another reason that joining with Burris, we’re going to become stronger together.”

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John Paul Hampstead

John Paul conducts research on multimodal freight markets and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. Prior to building a research team at FreightWaves, JP spent two years on the editorial side covering trucking markets, freight brokerage, and M&A.