An online auction is slated for Tuesday to sell the assets of family-owned Art Mulder & Sons Trucking (AMST) of Holland, Michigan.
The move comes two months after the refrigerated less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier ceased operations in late November after more than 50 years.
Orbitbid, which is owned by Michigan-based Miedema Asset Management Group, is handling the online auction of more than 180 pieces of equipment owned by AMST, including 35 semi trucks, 108 refrigerated trailers and 38 dry van trailers.
The decision to close the company wasn’t easy. However, Greg Mulder, COO of AMST, said declining freight volume and plunging freight rates beginning in late Q2 and lasting through Q3 forced the LTL carrier to reevaluate.
“It didn’t leave us feeling very good about 2023,” Mulder told FreightWaves. “All of our manufacturing customers that were trying to ship stuff saw their costs going up. As they saw softening in the market, they were asking for price decreases in late Q2 and Q3, but our costs stayed the same or continued to rise.”
Art Mulder founded the trucking company in 1971, hauling cattle with a box truck. Mulder’s three sons, Hanz, Peter and Phillip, all worked for the company, along with two of Art Mulder’s grandsons, Greg and Chad Mulder. Chad Mulder became president of AMST in 2018.
Under the banner of Mulder Holdings Co., Art Mulder’s three sons also founded a freight brokerage operation, Mulder Brothers Brokerage, in 2008, specializing in the LTL market for frozen and refrigerated food. Mulder Fleet Services, which started as an in-house fleet repair shop for AMST 30 years ago, has operated as its own entity since 2020.
Co-owners AMST and The Mandich Group, a Florida-based real estate group specializing in cold storage facilities, opened a $31 million, 147,000-square-foot cold storage facility in Holland in March.
AMST’s customers have transitioned to its logistics division, working with partner carriers in the LTL space to transport refrigerated goods to various distribution centers, according to Greg Mulder.
In early 2022, the company had 46 power units and 52 drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SAFER website. However, throughout the year, the company had scaled down its fleet to around 20 trucks and drivers prior to closing, Greg Mulder said.
He said many of AMST’s remaining drivers were working for other carriers in West Michigan within days of the trucking company’s layoffs in November.
The company plans to keep its U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number but remain “dormant for now,” he said. AMST isn’t ruling out a comeback — returning to an asset-based carrier — if freight conditions improve.
“Our desire was always to keep a fleet. It’s in our blood. It’s what’s got us here,” Greg Mulder said. “After 50 years of hard work and three generations working in trucking, the last thing we wanted to do was close down.”
Joe Antoshak, senior editorial researcher for FreightWaves, contributed to this report.