Rotunda Capital acquires majority stake in third-party warehousing, fulfillment services provider.
Private equity firm Rotunda Capital Partners has acquired a majority stake in Amware Logistics Services, a provider of third-party warehousing and fulfillment services headquartered in Eagle, Colo.
Amware’s president, Vincent Gulisano, will become chief executive officer of the company, and Rotunda Capital executive John McAlpin, who spearheaded the investment search, will become chief operating officer.
McAlpin brings 30 years of experience in logistics management, having previously served as senior vice president of BNSF Logistics and vice president of operations at Newgistics, a third-party logistics provider focused on full e-commerce support from the online store through post-order logistics.
Mark Wilhelm and Jim Smith, Amware’s co-owners, will retain a “meaningful ownership stake” in the company and serve on the board of directors to provide strategic direction. Ray Greer, currently the president of BNSF Logistics and formerly the CEO of Greatwide Logistics Services and Newgistics, has agreed to join Amware’s board.
“Rotunda is an ideal partner for Amware, given the firm’s deep knowledge of logistics and distribution industries, its extensive operating executive network, and its successful history of growing businesses,” said Gulisano in a statement. “Rotunda Capital will enable Amware to continue executing our expansion plans by increasing our sales force, selectively adding new locations, and investing growth capital in the existing network of locations.”
Amware controls more than 2 million square feet of warehouse space through nine facilities located across the United States (North Haven, Conn.; Easton, Pa.; Cranbury, N.J.; Atlanta, Dallas, and Phoenix) and in Toronto, Canada. It provides assembly, distribution, pick-up and delivery, truckload and less-than-truckload brokerage, parcel management, packaging, intermodal transloading and other services for clients ranging from big-box retailers and chemical shippers to direct marketers.
In an interview, Gulisano said Amware is eyeing locations in Southern California to serve customers with heavy volumes of products coming from Asia who need an inventory site for the western part of the United States, and in the Midwest for retailers who prefer a more centralized inventory strategy.
“We’re interested in both organic growth as well as looking at acquisitions,” Rotunda partner Corey Whisner told American Shipper.
Chicago-based Rotunda finds the third-party logistics sector attractive because of its recurring revenue streams, non-asset model and high-value added services where “you can differentiate yourself beyond pricing,” he said.
Amware was also highly sought because of its capabilities in direct-order fulfillment, including a warehousing footprint that enables customers to hold inventory close to their consumers. Retailers are increasingly outsourcing logistics in the race to meet demand for online sales and compete with the likes of Amazon.
“E-commerce is driving growth in the sector, so we felt the overall sector had a very nice tailwind to it,” Whisner said.
Rotunda was also “very impressed” with Amware’s high service levels, including order accuracy, percentage of same-day shipments and inventory visibility, he said.
“There is no bigger headache for everyone than if a shipment is not what the customer ordered,” the Rotunda executive said, referring to business-to-consumer sales.
Amware’s revenue from business-to-consumer fulfillment has grown 7.5 times since it acquired Parcel Port two years ago, said Gulisano, who previously ran Parcel Port. Amware is doing well, but its leadership felt that it needed to bring in professional investors to fully take advantage of the e-commerce boom and achieve annual double-digit growth, he said, especially as consolidation picks up pace in the highly fragmented order-fulfillment sector.
The company’s strategy is to blend the traditional contract logistics model with high-capacity, scalable, national parcel fulfillment for retailers and direct-sales outlets. Many large third-party logistics providers are set up for heavy freight and are still learning how to best integrate direct-to-consumer fulfillment into their operations while specialty fulfillment firms often lack the geographic network and expertise of a 3PL.
Amware co-locates traditional business-to-business logistics and e-commerce activity in some of its facilities even though pick, pack and shipping processes for both significantly differ.
The company is able to achieve high productivity and service levels by utilizing a customized information technology system that systematically segregates orders by their characteristics and reduces the need for expensive automation, Gulisano explained. Basic orders are routed to a high-efficiency production line staffed by people who need less training, while complex, multi-product orders are handled by more skilled workers. Orders are also sorted by priority, such as same-day, next-day and five-day delivery.
Rotunda’s other investments in the logistics and transportation has included Greatwide, Worldwide Express, and Air Express of Chicago, a franchisee of Worldwide.
The company’s portfolio is focused on lower mid-market logistics and distribution, specialty finance and business service firms. Its holdings include Discount Ramps, an online retailer of loading and hauling products for a wide variety of vehicles, a data center certification business, and a waste management and recycling provider.
Financial terms of the Amware investment were not disclosed. A source familiar with the deal said Rotunda now owns more than 75 percent of Amware.
This article was published in the July 2014 issue of American Shipper.