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Mark-It Express Logistics begins expansion efforts with acquisition of Spirit Trucking

Tony Apa Jr., left, founder and president of Mark-It Express Logistics, and Justin Nelson, vice president, stand in front of a company truck outside its Chicago terminal. Mark-It has embarked on an expansion plan with the acquisition of Spirit Trucking Company. (Photo: Mark-It Express)

Mark-It Express Logistics founder and President Tony Apa has a vision for his 12-year-old company – to become a national name. The Chicagoland business is taking steps in that direction with the acquisition of Spirit Trucking Company, also based in Chicago.

Tony Apa, founder of Mark-It Express
Tony Apa Jr. is a third-generation logistics professional, having founded Mark-It Express in 2008. (Photo: Mark-It Express)

“The acquisition definitely takes us to the right size to be a formidable player in drayage,” Apa told FreightWaves, adding that he is looking to expand the company’s national footprint. “We’re really looking to be a national scale player in the intermodal drayage space. We have a few other key (possibilities) we are looking at.”

Terms of the deal, which was advised by Republic Partners, were not disclosed. Jonathan Britva, principal of Republic, said the plan is strategic growth rather than expansion funded by private equity.

“This is the strategy that Tony and I and some of his other advisers are thinking through,” Britva said. “This is likely the first acquisition of several. As Tony said, the platform is starting to be put into place.”

Horwood Marcus & Berk Chartered also advised on the deal.

Spirit has approximately 78 trucks, giving Mark-It a combined fleet total of 175 vehicles, with offices in Kansas City, Kansas, and Detroit in addition to Chicago.

Mark-It Express provides intermodal logistics solutions, including local and regional drayage and yard services with terminals in Lemont, Illinois; Detroit and Kansas City. Its rolling stock includes specialized chassis, 53-foot dry vans and 53-foot refrigerated trailers. The company was recently named to Crain Chicago’s Fast 50 for the second time and Inc. 5000 for the fourth time. A sister company, Mark-It Express, offers freight brokerage.

Spirit was founded in 1979 by President Robert Denton. Apa said Spirit will be incorporated into Mark-It’s operations and the management team will remain in place, moving into the Mark-It Chicago offices.

Mark-It Express Chicago office
Mark-It Express operates both an asset-based logistics company and a freight brokerage. (Photo: Mark-It Express)

“Spirit is one of the long-standing names in intermodal,” Apa said, noting that the Denton name is a historic one that helped make Chicago an intermodal powerhouse. The acquisition expands Mark-It’s ability to serve its customers and provides continued opportunity for Spirit’s customers to maintain the high levels of service they have become accustomed to.

Apa said the deal will lead to some “great operational synergies” and on a combined basis, the combined group of companies will see top-line revenues “just shy of $60 million” in the first year.

Mark-It Express began after Apa left the corporate world following time working in the family business. He is third generation in the logistics industry, having started in warehousing before getting his commercial driver’s license at the age of 18. He also spent time as a dispatcher.

Both Apa and Britva hope the Spirit acquisition becomes just the first step in Mark-It becoming the leading intermodal trucking and freight brokerage provider nationally.

“I think we want people to know that we are open for the right opportunities. We’re actively looking to add on to what we’ve acquired with Spirit and we’re looking for the right strategic opportunities,” Britva said.


  1. Jason C

    Markit is a trainwreck I alwayss am getting calls fromcustomer service lady who is the owners sister complaints all the time to update my log very disrrspectful humans work at this company

  2. Daniel Kay

    The acquisition was the biggest joke of 2020, they purchased spirit trucking promising everyone jobs to only let everyone go two months later. LoL the turn around on drivers is redic we had revolving door every two weeks we had new drivers and worst of all the hires had no tankers no hazmat limitation like can only work starting at noon or can only drive during the day because of bad vision wow what cry babies. Let this be a dire warning to all people affiliated with this company or who plan to drive for them, they will use you and treat you like dirt. Only to laugh in your face when you find something wrong with there organization. I worked for spirit trucking for 6 years bob denton did us all a favor and threw all his employees’ future in the dirt after we helped his family thrive for 40years at becoming of the the most profitable companies in all of chicago.

  3. Belton edwards

    My company closed on Jan.10th 2020 I have a non fault no injury accident 2yrs and seven old .now I can get a old company kept me though .I can wait 7 months to get back in,

  4. Sherman Sims

    Hello mark and all the staffs there is a huge market with the regional,and local freight in the container and freight in texas.I am a local driver in the texas area so if u guys is thinking about putting a office here in DFW area just email me at [email protected] for opportunities here.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected]