Non-asset based logistics provider Transplace on Thursday announced it has acquired Chicago-based intermodal marketing company Celtic International to increase its capabilities in the growing intermodal market.
Privately held Transplace said the combined revenue of the two companies exceeds $1 billion, but officials have previously stated that gross revenue at the Dallas firm as less than $900 million last year. That would put Celtic’s revenue in the $150 million range.
• Transplace buys chemical logistics provider
Transplace ranks in the Top 30 of U.S. third-party logistics providers in terms of revenue. The company uses a Web-based, proprietary transportation management system to procure transportation and execute daily moves. Customers can purchase the technology to manage their own truck and intermodal moves, or hire Transplace to make all the arrangements. Other capabilities include truck brokerage, freight forwarding and supply chain design. In recent years, the company has expanded into the international market offering logistics services in Mexico and air and ocean freight consolidation.
As an IMC, Celtic operates as an intermodal wholesaler for truck shipments that travel by rail. It buys rail capacity in bulk, handles sales to shippers, secures the container and chassis, and arranges truck drayage between the shipper and rail ramp, enabling the customer to take advantage of volume pricing and receive a single bill for all the transportation legs.
Richard Hyland will remain president of Celtic, which will become a stand-alone division of Transplace. He and other senior managers are also taking equity positions in Transplace. Celtic customers, according to its Web site, include Ford Motor Co., Solo Cup Co., Nestle, Mattel, and Honda.
“We think there’s a lot of potential to convert truck to intermodal” given the tight truck market and high fuel prices, Transplace CEO Tom Sanderson said in an interview. “When the economy recovers there will be a huge shortage of truckload drivers.”
He pointed to eastern railroads Norfolk Southern and CSX, in particular, as making huge investments in building more intermodal terminals and clearing more track to handle double-stack container cars. That will eventually allow intermodal to become more viable on shorter lengths of haul.
“Our average intermodal shipment is about 1,400 miles. So there is a huge slice of the market that is still not tapped,” Sanderson said.
When Transplace manages intermodal moves today it buys a door-to-door service from a provider such as J.B. Hunt or Hub Group. With Celtic, it now will have the capability to do that on its own, although third parties will still be used on occasion.
Some IMCs now own containers or fleets of shuttle trucks. Celtic does not own equipment, which fits with Transplace’s model of contracting with trucking companies.
Earlier this year, Transplace acquired SCO Logistics, a small Philadelphia-based logistics company that specializes in serving the chemical industry. Transplace has financial backing for expansion from CI Capital Partners, which bought the company in December 2009. — Eric Kulisch