Border trucker puts bankruptcy in review mirror
USA Dry Van Logistics, a motor carrier that specializes in serving the maquiladora industry along the U.S.-Mexico border, recently said it exited bankruptcy proceedings and installed a new chief executive officer to restart its growth strategy.
The company's main creditors and lenders — GE Capital, CapitolOne and FCC — took over the business and restructured it within 10 months after internal mismanagement and financial irregularities by some family owners led to noticeable losses. In October they installed veteran trucking executive Denis Reilly as head of USA Dry Van Logistics.
Reilly was president of North American transport for OHL, where he was responsible for 2,500 employees and generated $1 billion in revenue. Before that he was senior vice president of operations at YRC Corp., joining the company when it acquired USF Logistics in 2004. Reilly was in charge of the reverse logistics division at USF and then second in command when the division was fully integrated into USF Logistics. His career also includes senior management roles at Menlo Logistics and CHEP USA.
Company officials say the accounting mismanagement didn't affect service and that they were able to operate without losing any customers or terminating workers. With strong equity ownership now in place and the ability to sign new contracts again after the lifting of bankruptcy restrictions, they say the company is poised to grow as the economy begins to improve.
'Instead of shutting it down, they (the investors) saw a company that had some inappropriate behavior by some individuals and thought the rest of the company was great if we make some changes,' Reilly said in a phone interview.
USA Dry Van Logistics' ability to satisfy a cross-border highway transportation need has attracted a strong customer base. Its niche is primarily bringing raw materials into Mexico and taking finished goods into the United States.
The core capability offers 'a great platform for the company to grow if it had a second chance. That's what attracted me and the lenders,' Reilly said in an interview.
Major customers include Panasonic, LG, General Electric, Black & Decker, Whirlpool and General Motors.
USA Dry Van Logistics, which started out as USA Logistics Carriers in 2000, has 500 drivers and operates about 500 tractors and 1,800 trailers. Much of the fleet expansion in recent years was financed by the new majority owners. The company operates a 250,000-square-foot warehouse at its McAllen, Texas, headquarters, as well as a big truck terminal in Laredo, Texas, and a small one in Dallas. An office in Monterrey, Mexico, is responsible for taking care of customer orders and assigning freight to about 25 Mexican carrier partners. On any given day, the highway carrier has 300 to 400 trailers moving in Mexico.
The company's truckload business is concentrated in the Midwest and Southeast, with some activity also in Southern California, Andres Alejo, the vice president of operations, said.
USA Dry Van Logistics is a certified Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism member whose trucks are eligible for expedited clearance at the border. It uses a service from SkyBitz to track its trailers, which it interchanges at the border with Mexican carriers, he said.
Company officials point out that the company thrived from an operational standpoint despite the lingering bankruptcy, a huge spike in fuel prices, and a recession. Similar circumstances forced other mid-sized carriers to park equipment and eventually to customer losses.
As part of its new growth effort, the cross-border carrier has hired Paul Silverlieb as chief marketing officer to help increase its market visibility. Silverlieb's 25-year career in transportation and logistics includes stints at USF Logistics and most recently Greatwide Logistics Services, another Texas-based motor carrier that emerged from bankruptcy early this year with a good reputation and contracts with some major retailers, but which was relatively unknown beyond its loyal customer base.
To date most of USA Dry Van's efforts to win new customers involved sales calls to individual manufacturers.
'We're really looking forward to growing next year without the distraction' of bankruptcy, Reilly said. ' Eric Kulisch