Heartland Express has purchased Millis Transfer and Millis Training Institute for $150 million and stock, the second major transaction in two years for the Iowa-based publicly traded carrier.
Millis was a family owned dry van truckload company based in Wisconsin and served the Midwest, East Coast, and Texas. Millis generated $152 million in fiscal year 2019 and turned a profit, which Heartland believes will translate into higher earnings for its shareholders going forward.
In June 2017, Heartland purchased Interstate Distributor Co. (IDC) of Tacoma, Washington. IDC, unlike Millis, wasn’t a profitable company when Heartland purchased the company for $113 million, posing a challenge for Heartland’s executives to maintain its long-term goals of operating ratios in the low-to-mid 80s.
The Millis family will remain in their current roles running the company for Heartland, unlike when Heartland shook up the leadership of IDC.
“We expect Millis to contribute to our ongoing success immediately, and with opportunities for further improvement, get even better over the long term,” said Michael Gerdin, CEO of Heartland.
Millis has been named a Best Fleet to Drive For by the Truckload Carriers Association in the past and boasts a turnover of less than 50 percent, well below the industry average.
“From the first time we met with Mike Gerdin and some of his executives, we knew that this was the right decision for our drivers, employees, and family. We are very excited to continue providing the high quality of service that our customers have come to expect. We believe the current culture that was started by our father, Bill Millis, 35 years ago and still exists today, will complement Heartland,” said Dave Millis, president of Millis Transfer.
Millis owns 11 terminals and five driver school locations in the United States.