Kriska Transportation Group (KTG) has acquired the Canadian and U.S. operations of Liberty Linehaul, adding 72 tractors and 157 trailers and expanding its reach into the U.S.
Liberty Linehaul is based in Ayr, Ont., and Liberty Linehaul West in Los Angeles, Calif., where it expanded to in 1997 – 10 years after its founding. It provides cross-border LTL and truckload services as well as domestic U.S. haulage on the west coast. The winner of multiple awards, Liberty is known for its classic-styled, burgundy colored trucks and trailers.
“Liberty represents extensive LTL and domestic U.S. experience which adds to KTG’s existing LTL portfolio and introduces a new opportunity for KTG to enter the U.S. market. Both aspects of Liberty align with KTG’s strategic growth model, and we are very excited to see how we can help Liberty optimize their LTL operation and grow their U.S. footprint,” said Kriska CEO Mark Seymour. “KTG is pleased to welcome another well-run Ontario-based LTL operator to our group. We see this line of business as one we like and one that further diversifies our revenue streams.”
Liberty’s current leadership team of Chris Gerber in Ayr and Greg Dubuque in California will stay on as general managers. They were part of the ownership team, along with Brian Taylor who is retiring, and Gary Higgins who will retire within the year.
“We are excited about the growth opportunity of joining a group the size of KTG,” said Gerber. “The operational synergies and large network of sister companies will allow us to extend our coverage, service offerings and shared knowledge base.”
“KTG has long-standing relationships with many of the Fortune 500 companies that we have always aspired to work with,” Dubuque added. “If we can tap into some of those relationships within the US, the sky’s the limit in terms of our growth potential. It’s very exciting for our team.”
The acquisitions mark the 11th and 12th brands to be purchased by Kriska.
Liberty founder Taylor said in an interview with Today’s Trucking, that selling the business he founded 35 years ago was an emotional process.
“It has taken a long time to get it where it is,” he said. “But it’s time to start thinking about retirement. We had a lot of interest and I’ve known Kriska and Mark [Seymour] very well for a long time.”
The companies were a part of the same insurance captive, and had strong familiarity. Taylor said he wanted to find a buyer who’d respect what he built and the people who helped him build it.
“They’re well managed, well capitalized and run their divisions as profit centers or independent businesses, which was important to me. They’re going to take care of the people and that’s a big thing for me,” said Taylor. “I thought it was a really good fit and I trust them.”
Taylor credited the employees for building the company into what it is. He said kids who used to go to the company’s Christmas parties are now in their 30s with families of their own. Selling the business is bittersweet, he admitted.
“I don’t feel particularly happy and relieved,” he admitted. “I feel almost like I’m abandoning them but at some point you have to. I don’t want to work until I’m in my 80s. They’re like family to me. I’ve given all my people my phone number and email and they can call me anytime they need to.”
However, he has decided he won’t be a part of the transition, leaving that to current management.
“I think I’d get in the way,” he admitted.
Left Lane Associates advised Liberty Linehaul on the transaction, “a deal between two iconic brands within the transportation and logistics industry,” as described by Peter Stefanovich, Left Lane president. “As a business with operations in both the U.S. and Canada, Liberty Linehaul will provide Kriska Transportation Group with its first footprint in the U.S., allowing for greater efficiencies and growth potential on both the asset-based and brokerage sides of their businesses.”