The two bulk haulers announced KAG’s acquisition of the Wharton, New Jersey-based company founded by tank truck industry legend—and past National Tank Truck Carriers chairman—Steve Rush on Friday, Sept. 2. The acquisition continues a busy year for the company that already is North America’s largest tank truck transporter and logistics provider. KAG added American PetroLog in August, and K-Limited Carrier in February.
Rush told Bulk Transporter the deal had been in the works since late last year, and he made the decision to sell soon after NTTC’s Annual Conference in April in San Diego.
“For us it was the best time ever,” he said. “The rule of thumb is you sell on the way up, right? And we were moving.
“The thing I like is they appreciate our model. It’s all about taking care of the driver.”
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Rush founded Carbon Express in 1983 after 19 years as an owner-operator. His passion for treating drivers with respect, and putting them in hotels instead of sleeper berths, helped the company make the Best Fleets to Drive For “Fleets to Watch” list last year. Carbon Express will join KAG’s Specialty Products division, KAG said.
“This commitment is important to all of us.”
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Carbon Express transports liquid bulk products, including chemicals, transformer oil, motor oil, lubricants, and water treatment chemicals, throughout North America. As part of the transaction, the company’s approximately 65 drivers and independent contractors will join KAG, and Sean McAllister will continue to manage daily operations as president, KAG said.
McAllister also will look to capitalize on growth opportunities with the additional assets and resources KAG can provide, the company added.
As for Rush, he plans to stay on with Carbon Express through the transition.
“I’m just here to guide them through for a few months, and then walk off into the sunset,” he said.
“It’s been coming for a while. I’ll be 79 years old in a couple of weeks. When we saw what we were worth, we said, ‘Let’s do this.’ It will protect our people because they have similar philosophies. They take care of their people, and they like what we do. So at the end of the day, really, it was a no-brainer.”
Rush also plans to continue advocating for drivers, and the tank truck industry, starting with a trip to Tank Truck Week, slated for Sept. 18-21 in Houston.
“The whole trucking industry, in my opinion, has got to change, and get off the back of the driver, and they’re doing a lousy job,” he said.
“Tank truck does the best job—but the industry overall has to do better.”