Pilot Freight Services, a 50-year-old logistics services provider with roots in airfreight, has placed five long-time, franchise-operated offices under its direct management.
The former franchises are located in Texas, Wisconsin and Mexico. Pilot said the acquisition of these offices was attractive due to their “strong historical growth and operational performance” for the overall company.
Financial terms of the acquisitions, effective today, July 1, were not disclosed by either Pilot or its owners ATL Partners and British Columbia Investment Management Corp. (bcIMC).
However, the Glen Mills, Pennsylvania-based logistics services provider said the franchise managers and staff have been retained in the acquisitions.
John Hill, Pilot’s president and chief commercial officer, told American Shipper the franchise office integrations for the company have been “seamless,” since these locations have long operated under the Pilot brand and systems.
Most Pilot customers were not even aware that the five offices were formerly operated by franchise owners, Hill said.
According to Pilot, the recently acquired franchise offices have strong operations serving the logistics requirements of shippers in the automotive, healthcare, home furnishings, industrial products, and packaging sectors.
“By bringing the operations along the U.S. and Mexico border in-house, Pilot further improves its ability to provide seamless trade solutions to cross-border clients,” the company said in a statement.
Since 2018, Pilot has brought 25 franchise offices throughout the country under its direct control. Hill said the reasons for these acquisitions have varied. In some cases, for example, it was a matter of retirements among franchise location operators.
“It’s not our strategy to make our offices 100% company-owned,” Hill said, although Pilot today directly controls 90% of its locations. “If we have a franchise in a market that’s working well, then we’re all for that,” he said.
In the early 1990s, Pilot rapidly grew its national presence by opening franchise-operated offices throughout the country.
Today, the logistics services provider has about 1,500 employees spread across 90 North American locations and several offices in Europe and Asia-Pacific. Pilot also operates a fleet of about 1,500 freight delivery trucks throughout the U.S.
In July 2018, Pilot acquired Manna Freight Systems, a final-mile logistics provider based in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The acquisition increased Pilot’s business-to-consumer home delivery service, which focuses on heavy and hard-to-handle goods. The company said e-commerce has also generated an uptick in these types of home deliveries.
Hill said Pilot is “keeping its eyes open to future acquisitions, if they make sense.”
While the start to this year’s freight volumes was dimmed by the coronavirus pandemic, Pilot noted it has experienced an increase in both domestic business-to-business and global freight movements in recent months.
“Overall, Pilot is looking forward to a strong 2020 with growth across all product lines,” the company said.