Calyx boss: Acquisitions show confidence in economy

TORONTO — Wouldn’t you know it? Less than a month after we published our annual list of Canada’s Top 100 carriers, a prominent couple of Canadian truckers muck it all up by wedding their respective operations, wiping the 73rd biggest company off the list and vaulting the 14th largest fleet up to number 11. And only a year ago, you probably hadn’t heard of any of the players.

In mid-March, Uwe Petroschke, the founder and unpredictable boss at Totalline Transport  (a.k.a., number 73) inked a deal with Rob Donaghey, the CEO of Calyx, which only three years ago didn’t even appear on the Top 100 list at all.

Totalline, a Toronto-area specialist in expediting high-value, time-sensitive goods, also had in its stable two east-coast operations, Kreative Carriers Transportation and Bransam Logistics Services, which will also operate under the Calyx umbrella

While most large carriers — especially in the hard-hit highway LTL sector — are contracting, Calyx is blossoming. Its total count of trucks, tractors, trailers and owner-operators now comes to 3,953.

Calyx’s Rob Donaghey believes what this economy needs is some confidence. And he thinks his brave expansion move will be a corporate tonic — a dose of good news when it’s badly needed.

The acquisition allows Totalline boss Petroschke
to do what he does best — run trucks

"The industry needs some positive news. It’s a self-serving industry and needs some momentum," he says. Plus, Donaghey insists, bolstering your ranks now in anticipation of the recovery makes sense. If you can do it.

"The only way you can get through a downturn like this is to focus on the basics," Donaghey told Today’s Trucking when he and Petroschke sat down for an interview in Totalline’s Vaughn, Ont., office. "I’m not going to deny that this is a trying time for our industry as a whole as we face excess capacity. The lending market is very, very tough; banking relationships are very, very tough. Could there have been an easier time to have done this? Probably.

"But… we took advantage of the opportunity to add Totalline to our team of companies to build a supply chain offering that will serve us well when the economy recovers."

It’s probably no coincidence that Totalline’s high-value LTL servicing matches very well with Calyx’s Nesel Transport and Muir’s Cartage divisions, which both specialize in electronics, furniture, and home improvement product transport.

As for Totalline, the colorful and outspoken founder Petroschke says Calyx’s overtures were not the first time a larger company wooed him but he agreed this time because Donaghey’s proposal would let him remain in charge of Totalline but return to what he loves about trucking — running trucks.

"My job had become too inundated beyond my own dealings with banks, contracts, legal things, insurance, all administrative-type stuff, which is all part of the job but not what I enjoy doing," he says. "This particular deal allows me to get back to the things I like to do."

There’s certainly a consolidation slowdown in Canada, but a handful of far-sighted companies — looking more at expanding freight volumes rather than unit capacity — are in the buying mood.

"Even if you have a plan in mind to dispose of your business," says Donaghey, "at some future time you should still run your business to be the most effective it can be to maximize your value."

— (The full article can be read in the May print edition of Today’s Trucking). 

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