After a 13-year absence, earlier this year Indianapolis-based Celadon Trucking Services went back into the flatbed business. “Our return to this market segment signals our intent to become a truly full-service carrier for our customers,” says Paul Will, Celadon’s CEO and president. “Whatever their needs, we can now better handle all of our customers’ shipping and transportation requirements.”
Rather than starting its own flatbed operation, Celadon chose to acquire an established company in that market, purchasing Butler, IN-based Evans Equipment. At the time of the acquisition, the Evans fleet consisted of about 200 dry van trailers and 70 flatbed trailers operating from terminals and warehouses in four locations.
“Evans Equipment is known for its high level of service in the industry,” Will states. “This acquisition offers solid potential to expand our dedicated and local footprint in the Midwest, and advance our overall growth plans through increased volumes within the flatbed business.”
Celadon also sought the expertise that Evans has developed over the past 28 years by bringing Tim Evans, vice president of operations, and Jim Evans, vice president of sales, into the company to manage flatbed operations.
“One of our goals was to merge the flatbed operation into Celadon with as little disruption as possible for both companies and their customers,” says Jim Evans. “With the full support of the Celadon Group as it integrates the Evans operation into its enterprise, we’re leaving the Evans infrastructure intact while helping the company better understand the flatbed business.”
Following the acquisition, Celadon began investing to upgrade its flatbed fleet. New trailers for the operation include 100 53-ft. aluminum models from Benson, a subsidiary of Wabash National Corp., and Fontaine Trailer Co. “These trailers meet Celadon’s high standards for equipment and with sliding, spread tandems are flexible so we can expand our customer base,” Evans relates. “We want to be able to haul all types of freight in different lanes, including in western Canada and directly to Mexico. In the future we plan to add extendable trailers, side kits and drop deck units as well.”
Celadon is also looking to expand the workforce of owner-operators that handle flatbed hauls for the carrier while simultaneously upgrading the tractors they operate under a lease-purchase program. Newly ordered for the fleet are 2015 model-year Kenworth W900, Peterbilt 579 and International LoneStar tractors.
“Quality tractors and trailers coupled with an attractive lease-purchase program and percentage-based pay packages offer an outstanding opportunity for anyone considering a career as an owner-operator,” Evans states. “We believe in giving drivers the opportunity to become business owners by offering an appealing mix of equipment, and management and maintenance services. Taking ownership helps drivers support themselves and our customer base. That way, the value of our services goes up and so does profitability.”
Evans goes on to explain that Celadon is equally focused on addressing issues specific to flatbed operations. “Qualified flatbed drivers need specific skills beyond those required for dry and refrigerated van drivers,” he says. “We provide initial and refresher training, especially for cargo securement and tarping. As we keep expanding, training is one way to ensure we are taking safety very seriously.”
Celadon Group Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides long haul, regional, local, dedicated, and intermodal truckload dry and temperature-controlled, flatbed and expedited freight service across North America. Additionally, Celadon Logistics Services offers a range of brokerage and supply chain management solutions.