Georgia Highway Express, was founded by Henry Winship in Macon, Georgia in September 1928. The company’s main operating area was between Macon and Milledgeville, Georgia.
Over the next 30 years it grew and by 1959, Georgia Highway Express had begun to service western Georgia and even a small portion of eastern Tennessee. That year, the company purchased B.C. Truck Lines, and with it, gained authority to haul along routes into Alabama and the remainder of Georgia. After completing this purchase, the company added six new terminals. Revenues in 1959 exceeded $7.6 million.
Georgia Highway Express expanded into intermodal freight, partnering with Southern Railway System and Yale Express of New York to found one of the very first intermodal operations in the country. This new endeavor was called Comar and signaled the company’s interest in continued expansion.
The company continued to expand its truckload interests as well, and in 1969, added authority from Miami north to the Georgia line, and from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic. Georgia Highway Express generated $19.5 million in revenue in 1969.
Deregulation and a name change
Deregulation of the trucking industry took place in 1980, and in 1982, Georgia Highway Express was renamed Transus, Inc. At that time, its headquarters and largest terminal were in Atlanta, and the company had 47 other terminals as well.
By the early 1990s, Transus had maintained its stature as a strong carrier of general less than truckload (LTL) commodities in the Southeast, offering service to seven southeastern states as well as Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Dayton and Cincinnati. The company also operated container pools in Atlanta and Dalton, Georgia and Charlotte, for shipments out of Savannah, Charleston and Jacksonville. Transus reported revenues of over $80 million in 1990.
Selling the LTL business
In early December 1995 TNT Freightways Corp. agreed to buy Transus Freight, the LTL subsidiary of Transus Inc. The acquisition by TNT Freightways almost doubled the size of its TNT Dugan Inc. subsidiary.
Blanton Winship, the president of Transus Inc. and son of the company’s founder, announced at that time that Transus would continue to operate Transus Container Division, its drayage, line-haul and pool container operations, which primarily served ports in the Southeast.
“I felt the decision was made in the best long-term interest of our employees and our customers, as well as my family,” Winship said about the sale. He also said intrastate deregulation of the trucking industry had an indirect impact on the decision to sell, due to the downward pressure it put on regional freight rates during the last year.
At the time of the sale, TNT was a holding company primarily operating a family of regional LTL carriers from its headquarters in Rosemont, Illinois. TNT Dugan was based in Wichita, Kansas, and the acquisition expanded its operations in the Southeast.
Sale of intermodal business
In late January 2007, Transus sold Transus Intermodal to Road Link. At the time, the company had about 300 owner-operator drivers and operations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. It generated $40 million in annual revenue and was among the largest providers of intermodal trucking in the South. With 12 service centers, it was one of only a few companies that provided full regional coverage in intermodal trucking.
According to coverage by FreightWaves’ American Shipper at the time, RoadLink USA was the nation’s largest independent intermodal drayage and logistics company.
The purchase was the first since RoadLink, which was based in Jacksonville, Florida, was itself acquired in 2006 by private investment fund Fenway Partners.
RoadLink had grown during the 2000s by pursuing an industry roll-up of small, regional trucking companies into a national network. At the time of the acquisition RoadLink said the combination of the companies would allow it to expand international and domestic services in the South.
“Transus will immediately provide RoadLink with a substantial presence in the South, giving us an industry-leading position in every major intermodal region in the United States,” said RoadLink Chief Executive Ron Sorrow at the time of the acquisition announcement. “The acquisition also substantially boosts RoadLink’s presence in the international intermodal segment, which is continuing to grow due to global outsourcing.”
John Anderson, chairman of RoadLink and Fenway’s transportation advisor, said at the time of the acquisition, “We believe RoadLink is the ideal vehicle to consolidate the highly fragmented intermodal trucking market space, and the addition of Transus is an excellent first step in achieving our collective vision.”
With the Transus acquisition, RoadLink USA has consolidated annual revenue of $250 million, a driver force of more than 1,700 owner/operators and employees and 60 service centers.
Jim Pressley had been the president of Transus at the time of the acquisition. He was then appointed to head RoadLink’s southern operations. He said, “Combining the strengths of RoadLink and Transus will give our customers a true national service platform with unparalleled scale, resulting in an enhanced service capability. We are excited by the additional offerings we will now be able to provide to the marketplace.”