STEINBACH, MB -- Big Freight Systems wasn't for sale. The Coleman family had been running the business since 1948, when they bought South East Transfer in Steinbach, Manitoba. Chief Executive Officer Gary Coleman was focused entirely on finding ways to grow.
When a courier package arrived from Don Daseke, proposing a potential sale, he simply filed it away.
But Daseke persisted. The pair met in person. And this spring Big Freight Systems became the first Canadian operation in Daseke Inc.'s expanding family of specialized, flatbed carriers.
"His philosophy on business, his philosophy on people, his philosophy in terms of driving success forward through collaboration, all ran very close to me," Coleman recalls. "I got comfortable with his long-term plan."
That plan is to consolidate fleets in an industry sector dominated by family-owned businesses. The Texas entrepreneur has secured more than 3,800 trucks and 8,200 trailers so far, accounting for about 1% of what Daseke estimates is a US $133 billion market. The business reported $30 million in revenue in 2009, growing to a pro forma of $869 million last year. And more acquisitions are in the works.
Daseke refers to himself as an accidental trucker. He began his career as an auditor, held roles at IBM, and later built a residential real estate business that sold for US $1.7 billion. He first invested in trucking nine years ago only after a friend introduced him to Smokey Point Distributing, which specialized in aviation cargo. That became the first of today's 13 operating companies.