Big Freight Systems, a Daseke company, has announced a merger with Kelsey Trail Trucking. Combined, the two operations operate nearly 750 tractors and trailers. Kelsey Trail will become a division of Big Freight and keep operations intact, with locations in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Innisfil, Ontario. Big Freight is headquartered in Steinbach, Manitoba.
“This is a big day for both companies,” said Gary Coleman, president of Big Freight. “While we will operate somewhat autonomously, we will share many resources -- there is a lot of synergy between the two companies. Big Freight hauls single flatbed trailers throughout the United States and Canada, while Kelsey Trail is the largest dedicated B-train operator in Canada, with coast-to-coast truckload and LTL service. Kelsey Trail also has a regional B-train operation in Ontario and Quebec. We’ve never competed for freight, but now we’ll be able to work together in some creative ways. That’s exciting for both companies, and it will be a benefit for our customers. It will give us a competitive edge and more freight opportunities.”
According to Jim Clunie, president of Kelsey Trail Trucking, much like Big Freight, Kelsey Trail started as a small, family-operated trucking company. “We’re in our 38th year, while Big Freight is celebrating its 70th year,” he said. “Our values, passion for the industry and our penchant for customer service is very much alike. I’ve had others knock on our doors, but have never been inclined to sell or merge. We’ve been very successful. But, the opportunity with Big Freight was different, and what our two companies can do together is very exciting. What’s more, Big Freight is a part of Daseke, which represents the largest asset-based flatbed operation in North America. This combination led us to the merger.”
Kelsey Trail Trucking operates 80 tractors a mix of late-model Kenworths and Peterbilts. They have a handful of 53-foot trailers, but the mainstay is the company’s 90 sets of 5-axle B-trains (32-foot lead trailers, and 28-foot pups). The company’s long-haul fleet of nearly 50 tractors goes all over Canada (backhauling much of the cedar that comes out of British Columbia). It has also developed a regional fleet making deliveries from the Toronto area up to the northern area of the province, and into Quebec.
“[From an operational standpoint,] merging with Big Freight will give us the opportunity to better support our team with access to the first-class facility in Steinbach and property in Winnipeg,” said Clunie.
“And, for Big Freight, we will have access to Kelsey Trail’s new 42,000 square-foot facility north of Toronto,” said Coleman. “The more efficient we can operate day-in and day-out, the more competitive we will be long term. We will raise the bar and offer an unparalleled level of service and capacity. This next chapter will be remarkable. It’s going to be good for the Big Freight team, good for the Kelsey Trail team, and it will be good for our customers.”