Watkins Lines Expands

Watkins Lines Expands

Copyright 2004, Traffic World, Inc.

Watkins Associated Industries, Atlanta, the parent of nationwide LTL carrier Watkins Motor Lines, is expanding its North American presence with the purchase of Toronto-based Fairway Canadian Express.

The acquisition, for an undisclosed amount, is the latest step by Watkins to broaden its coverage and speed service in North America. In April, Watkins Motor Lines added two-day service points on 1,500 lanes. The carrier launched a regional overnight service in January.

With $860 million in revenue last year, Watkins Associated Industries is the 15th largest trucking operation in the United States and Watkins Motor Lines unit is the seventh largest nationwide LTL carrier when ranked by revenue, after Estes Express, ABF, Overnite Transportation, USF, Con-Way Transportation Services and Yellow Roadway.

Fairway Canadian Express will be Watkins'' first wholly owned foreign subsidiary. The carrier is changing its name to Watkins Canada Express. It will be the sixth trucking company in the Watkins group that in addition to Watkins Motor Lines includes Highway Transport, a tanker fleet; truckload carrier Land Span; Sunco Carriers, a regional food hauler; and Watkins Fleet Services, a contract carriage operation.

The Canadian carrier was privately-owned and managed by its founder, Angelo Demangos, who will serve in a consulting capacity for the new company. Bob Simons, Watkins Motor Lines'' executive vice president for operations, will become president of Watkins Canada Express.

The 29-year-old company provides nationwide LTL service within Canada, same-day LTL service in Ontario and Quebec and international service between Canada, the United States and Mexico. It also provides expedited border clearance and public warehousing services.

Watkins Motor Lines has had an exclusive interline partnership with Fairway since 1998 and has worked with the company since 1991. Rose Ann Froberg, Watkins'' corporate communications director, said the acquisition is an extension of that successful relationship. It does not presage an expansion by Watkins into Mexico, she said.

Fairway recently opened a terminal in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to serve Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta and increase traffic between the Canadian Prairies and the U.S. Midwest. A daily linehaul run moves freight between Winnipeg and Minneapolis via the Emerson-Pembina Gateway that gives Canadian truckers access to I-29 in North Dakota.

The carrier''s other terminals are in Vancouver, British Columbia; Montreal; Toronto; and Toronto International Airport

.Headquartered in Lakeland, Fla., Watkins Motor Lines has 137 terminals in 42 states. It employs more than 12,000 people nationwide.

Watkins this year has focused on improving transit times and regional distribution, lowering transit times to two days on many lanes and establishing several regional hubs to increase the volume of overnight and next-day shipments.

"More and more customers have asked us to bring our service into the regional market," Jeff Sobecki, executive vice president of sales and marketing, said earlier this year.