Private-equity-owned trucking company had 135 drivers and 148 power units
Employees of Williston, Vermont-based LandAir, an LTL carrier that serviced the Northeast and parts of Canada, say they were blindsided when they were unable to log in to their computers Tuesday morning and truck drivers were notified that the company would no longer be making pickups.
The 54-year-old trucking company, North East Freightways, doing business as LandAir, had 135 drivers and 148 power units, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SAFER website. The company, which was originally called Allied Air Freight, was founded by Fred Spencer in 1968.
According to LandAir’s website, the hazmat hauler had 450 employees at its 11 service centers in the U.S., as well as two service centers in Ottawa and Toronto, Canada. In May, the company announced it was expanding its LTL service offerings to include New Jersey, Long Island and New York City.
LandAir is not associated with Greeneville, Tenn.-based Landair Holdings, including Landair Transport and Landair Logistics, which was acquired by Covenant Transportation (NASDAQ:CVTI) in July 2018.
While the company has yet to issue a formal statement regarding its closure, a former LandAir employee, who spoke to FreightWaves on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the news that the company had shuttered operations.
Another source familiar with the situation at LandAir said the company had “laid off its entire sales force and client services” employees on Tuesday, but was unsure how many employees that was.
As of publication, William M. Keresey III, chief executive officer of LandAir, did not respond to FreightWaves’ requests seeking comment about the closure.
The company was controlled by private equity firm Corbel Capital Partners, headquartered in Los Angeles. Brian Yoon, principal of Corbel Capital Partners, did not return FreightWaves’ request seeking comment.
The Northeast-based carrier, formerly known as Land Air Express, was forced to briefly shut down in December 2015 after the LTL carrier failed to submit an acceptable corrective action plan to the FMCSA after receiving an unsatisfactory safety rating following an audit two months earlier.
In early January 2016, the company reopened after announcing a joint partnership with New Hampshire-based North East Freightways and submitting a safety-management plan.
Curtis Garrett, chief strategy officer of Reconex, headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, said sources told him Tuesday that LandAir’s private-equity firm made the decision to shutter the LTL carrier.
Garrett, who works with LTL carriers, shippers and strategic partners, said he was surprised by the decision to close one of the largest LTL carriers serving the Northeast. However, he understands that private-equity-owned companies are concerned about the transportation market and the economy and “want a return on their investment at some point.”
It’s unclear if the company was actively seeking a buyer. Garrett said the company would have been snapped up a year ago when the freight market was booming, but LandAir’s “window of opportunity was missed.”
“It’s very expensive to operate a trucking company in the Northeast,” Garrett told FreightWaves. “And with rising costs around labor, workers and drivers, the high cost of living in that part of the country and with the uncertainty in the freight market being what it is, it’s a difficult time.”
According to the Vermont Joblink database, LandAir had not filed a WARN Act notice with the state prior to the sudden closure. Vermont requires all employers that are closing or conducting a mass layoff of 50 or more employees to provide a 45-day notice prior to the effective date of a closing or layoff.