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Forward Air acquires another final-mile provider

Forward Air’s ‘no-wait’ approach advances on two fronts

Forward Air truck at terminal (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Forward Air (NASDAQ: FWRD) announced that it has acquired another last-mile provider to build out its network. This time the Greeneville, Tennessee-based trucking company had to travel only 30 miles Northeast to acquire Johnson City, Tennessee-based CLW Delivery Inc.

The Wednesday press release said the $5.5 million deal will be funded with cash on hand and close in October.

CLW specializes in final-mile delivery and in-home installation for retailers and manufacturers. The outfit generates $20 million in annual revenue. Forward expects the deal to expand its final-mile footprint to include another 14 markets.

“Our Final Mile business is a key area of growth for Forward. CLW offers a unique opportunity to expand our Final Mile service offering by stretching into customized installations and builder projects, which is something we haven’t provided in the past,” stated President, Chairman and CEO Tom Schmitt. “Bringing in CLW marks our commitment to advancing our capabilities within this space.”

Forward acquired competitor Towne Air Freight for $125 million in 2015, giving it a final-mile platform for home delivery of appliances and furniture. The company then expanded the offering again in 2019 with the purchase of FSA Logistix for $27 million and Linn Star Holdings in a $57 million deal. With the CLW deal, Forward Final Mile has grown from eight locations to 110 in less than two years.

In addition to inorganic growth accomplished through acquisitions, Forward recently advanced its organic growth efforts with the expansion of its less-than-truckload (LTL) service. In July, the company announced plans to offer traditional LTL service out of a final-mile facility in Savannah, Georgia. This marked the first time Forward has provided LTL service outside of its normal airport-to-airport network.

Those plans were quickly accelerated during the company’s second-quarter earnings call with the announcement that additional LTL operations would be added. Schmitt said the company was taking a “no-wait” approach to organic and inorganic growth plans and that “a handful” of incremental terminals could see traditional LTL operations by year-end.

The push in LTL is also a way for the company to improve utilization within its existing terminal network, which has lost freight as airlines and cruise lines have seen their bookings plummet and other in-person events have been canceled.

Shares of FWRD are up nearly 2% in early trading compared to the S&P 500, which is slightly positive.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Todd Maiden.

Todd Maiden

Based in Richmond, VA, Todd is the finance editor at FreightWaves. Prior to joining FreightWaves, he covered the TLs, LTLs, railroads and brokers for RBC Capital Markets and BB&T Capital Markets. Todd began his career in banking and finance before moving over to transportation equity research where he provided stock recommendations for publicly traded transportation companies.