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CRST buys California-based Gardner Trucking

Largest single acquisition in Cedar Rapids company's history

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CRST International on Monday announced the purchase of a California trucking company, the largest single acquisition in the Cedar Rapids company’s history.

Founded in 1989, Gardner Trucking of Ontario, Calif., is considered the largest truckload carrier based in that state. It provides specialized regional truckload services, logistics, short-haul transportation and warehouse services for bulk and commodity end-to-end markets.

CRST, a privately owned company, employs more than 8,000 company drivers, independent contractors and office personnel. Gardner will add about $400 million in revenues to CRST, with more than 2,400 drivers and 500 non-driver personnel.

Gardner’s customers primarily are in the paper and packaging, food and beverage, wood products and metal and plastic container industries. The company serves the western United States, with facilities in Arizona, California, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

“It is difficult to grow organically, so we’re always looking for companies that are well-managed and that provide additional service offerings to our customer base,” Dave Rusch, president and CEO of CRST International, said in a phone interview.

“It brings us three areas we don’t have right now — regional van, warehousing and a drayage operation. They do it very well, and they have a real strong presence in California.”

Gardner Trucking will be the eighth operating company within CRST International.

In the past several years, CRST has acquired Specialized Transportation, Allied Special Products — the specialized division of North American Van Lines — BESL Transfer Co. and Pegasus Transportation. Rusch said adding the Gardner service portfolio to CRST will accelerate CRST’s goal of reaching $2 billion in annualized revenues by 2018.

Tom Lanting, previous owner and president of Gardner Trucking, will continue in his current role as president.

CRST recently moved its corporate headquarters to a new 11-story tower on First Street SE in downtown Cedar Rapids from its former offices on 16th Avenue SW.

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