IT HAS been a busy few months for the management team at Andrews Logistics Inc. A major acquisition in October 2013 increased the fleet size and expanded the customer roster.

The acquisition of specific assets from Andrews Transport LP in Fort Worth, Texas, added approximately 115 employees (many of them drivers) in Louisiana and Texas and increased the tractor fleet by about a third. Annual revenues also grew with the acquisition, rising to about $70 million for Southlake, Texas-based Andrews Logistics.

“This acquisition was an incredible opportunity for us,” says J Darron Eschle, chairman and chief executive officer of Andrews Logistics. “We believe it puts us on track to build up annual revenues to the $150-million range over the next 10 years. We see more acquisitions in our future.”

Brian Jarvis, president and chief operating officer, adds: “We had the opportunity to make this acquisition because of the close ownership relationship between the two companies. Bill and Gary Andrews (owners of Andrews Transport) supported the startup of Andrews Logistics in 1997.

“In October 2013, Bill decided the time was right to sell off Andrews Transport. He, Darron, and I worked together to cherry pick the best customers, best personnel, and best equipment from Andrews Transport. One of the most important managers we brought over from Andrews Transport was Randall Ingo, who is now our executive vice-president. He has extensive tank truck operations experience and was one of our mentors on tank truck issues when we started Andrews Logistics.

“The pieces of Andrews Transport that we purchased fit our operation almost seamlessly with very few transition issues. It was a fast transition, and much of the work was done in the first 90 days.”

Carefully managed

The carefully managed acquisition effort was typical of the way Andrews Logistics has succeeded over the course of less than two decades in business. Much thought has gone into building the asset-based transportation and logistics company that today specializes in liquid bulk and hazardous materials transport.

Andrews Logistics offers a broad range of logistics services, including dedicated contract carriage and freight management. Initially dry freight was a major focus because of Eschle’s background with J B Hunt, Ryder Systems Inc, and UPS Logistics and the ability of the company to quickly add revenue in that market. Tanker operations were always the long-term objective and were added gradually.

The focus changed radically after the carrier’s largest dry freight customer went bankrupt at the beginning of the recession in 2008. “Dry van operations accounted for about 65% of our activity at that time,” Eschle says. “Today, liquid bulk cargoes (specifically lubricants and general chemicals) account for 85% of our activity and dry vans make up less than 15% of the business.”

Dry van activity will not go away completely because Andrews Logistics has some good customers (such as Walmart’s Sam’s Club) in that sector. In addition, key lubricants customers need some niches services in the dry van sector, and Andrews Logistics is an easy choice to help out on special projects.

“We really don’t care what type of trailer is behind the tractor,” Eschle says. “We just want good customers that value safety and a high level of service at a fair rate.”

Lubricant dominance

Lubricants dominated the business that came over from Andrews Transport, which had primary operations in the Gulf Coast States. Andrews Logistics also picked up some new business hauling jet fuel.

Accompanying the Andrews Transport business were six terminals in Texas and Louisiana. Terminals in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area, Houston, Texas area, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana were merged with existing Andrews Logistics facilities in those locations.

With the additions, Andrews Logistics now has terminals in Baton Rouge; Beaumont, Diboll, Tyler, La Porte, and Dallas, Texas; Los Angeles and Richmond, California; Tampa, Florida; Granite City, Illinois; Canton, Ohio; Aliquippa and Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Rahway, New Jersey.