With Rand McNally now firmly in the fold of a new owner, the managing partner of that firm, Teleo Capital, wants to make clear that the electronic logging device (ELD) and telematics provider is financially healthy.
Joe Roark, in an interview with FreightWaves, described the longtime provider of maps and similar products as “very profitable” as he sought to clarify comments made about Rand McNally in recent court filings. Those documents were connected to the bankruptcy of Rand McNally’s previous owner, a group of companies connected to investor Lynn Tilton.
“It has been generating cash for a decade-plus,” Roark said of Rand McNally. Roark is now the company’s chairman as well as a managing partner at Teleo.
In a filing by the chief restructuring officer assigned by the bankruptcy court to a trio of companies all with the name of Zohar, Rand McNally was said to have been facing “liquidity pressure and was forced to conserve cash.” “These liquidity constraints are exacerbated by the fact that Rand currently has no availability on its existing financing,” the CRO, Michael Katzenstein, wrote.
But Roark said that was not an accurate picture of the company’s economic health. He believed those comments were made “to get quick movement” on a sale that by the time Katzenstein wrote those words had been going on for eight to nine months. By contrast, most of the other companies Teleo has in its portfolio generally get sold in three to four months, according to Roark.
Rand McNally is now among the family of Teleo companies. It made news this week with the rollout of its OverDryve 8 Pro II, an in-cab tool that does everything from recording dashcam video to navigation to playing satellite radio. It was described by Rand McNally in a prepared statement as being three times faster than the first-generation of the OverDryve product. It also has a hands-free phone product built in.
Roark discussed the company’s other products, including its legacy map and atlas business. Although on the surface it may seem like a dinosaur, Roark described maps and atlases as “a highly profitable business for the company. It’s a cash cow.”
A recent outage in the Garmin system due to a ransomware attack drove that point home. “A truck driver can’t tolerate something like that without some sort of guidance,” he said. Rand McNally’s hard-copy products are like a “secondary bible” to drivers.
But there are more electronic products that put Rand McNally in the mix with companies like SmartDrive and Omnitracs, the latter having recently bought the former. Rand McNally offers a camera and video system, and also has a product called MileMaker, which lays out the preferred routes for a trucker.
Because of its maps and atlases, Roark said Rand McNally has kiosks in many truck stops where it sells its products.
“But we also sell devices to larger fleets,” he said. “We take care of the independents, and we’ve got a number of both small and large fleets.”
Roark said earlier in the interview that while Rand McNally had been profitable when it was owned by Tilton’s Patriarch Partners, it was also being used as a cash source to support other Patriarch operations.
But Patriarch were not “terrible owners” and were investing in new technologies, Roark said. “They have grown it significantly during their ownership, so they have been supportive.”
“The difference is we are putting even more into technology expansion and growth,” Roark added. “So it’s not that they haven’t done anything. It’s just that they did a whole lot less than we plan on doing.”
Rand McNally is now the biggest company by revenue in the Teleo portfolio.
Other technology companies owned by Teleo include Industrial Defender, which provides cybersecurity and compliance software products, and Paxia. Paxia is described as a supply chain software company that manages “the inflight catering services supply chain for the world’s largest airline carriers.”
Roark said he believes the technology skills in other Teleo companies can be used at Rand McNally. “If you look at its past sister companies, they didn’t have the skills to assist Rand McNally,” he said.
Roark would not disclose Rand McNally’s revenue. He did say the company had in excess of 200 employees. It is based in Rosemont, Illinois, a Chicago suburb.
Teleo grew out of Marlin Equity Partners, with several of the key personnel at Teleo coming out of Marlin. It has approximately $250 million under management.
And to drive home his initial point, he said Rand McNally — which he described as a “great brand” that attracted him as soon as he heard it was available — is “not in distress and it never has been.”