A&R Logistics is no more. The company now is known as Quantix.
The chemical supply chain services provider revealed the rebrand Wednesday, Sept. 8, during a special live webcast that included messages from CEO Chris Ball and other company executives, and a performance by country artist Pat Green.
The name change unites A&R’s family of companies, which has grown through six acquisitions—Blue Water Plastic Transport, Plantgistix, First Choice Logistics, L.T. Harnett Trucking, Luckey Trucking, and RJ’s Transportation—all made since Chicago-based private equity firm Wind Point Partners acquired A&R only 2½ years ago.
“The chemistry-inspired, invented name is a different take on quantum: A discrete package of energy or matter,” Ball said. “It embodies our intention to be a seamless energy that says yes to accelerating our customers and the industry.
“This really is a manifestation of the tenacity and investment each team has put into advancing this company as a 360-degree supply chain leader. We have long been growing other areas of our business, like operations and footprint, so it’s time for our brand to catch up by adopting one shared identity with the same vision, values, and drive for excellence. With a commitment to technology, real assets, and most importantly committed people at all levels, Quantix is ready to move as one, with our partners, into a successful future.”
The move comes on the heels of Ball’s recent promotion to CEO and president.
Mark Holden announced his retirement as CEO in June, when Ball was tabbed as his successor, though Holden remains on the board of directors as co-chairman. Holden teamed with Rich Mitchell and PE firm Mason Wells to buy A&R in 2012 from FdG Associates and Jim Bedeker, who founded A&R in 1969 (and recently died in January 2020).
“My background is more of a supply chain background,” said Ball, who joined A&R in 2017 after six years as president of Oak Park, Ill.-based Vectora Transportation. “I owned a couple of 3PL businesses I started, and worked in different places in the supply chain across my career. So now that we’ve got this breadth of services, I’ve been asked to take on new leadership roles, simply because we’re doing so many things now.”
The company has more than doubled in size since Wind Point bought A&R in May 2019. Newly christened Quantix stands as one of the largest specialized supply chain platforms in North America—with annual revenue of more than $500 million. Through acquisitions and investments in supply chain infrastructure, the company now boasts:
- The industry’s largest dry bulk transportation network, featuring more than 2,300 pieces of highly specialized equipment
- One of the nation’s largest liquid chemical transportation platforms, with more than 2,000 pieces of equipment
- Full-scale warehousing, rail distribution, and inventory management via a national network of 33 facilities totaling more than 6 million square feet
- Export packaging capabilities, with the capacity to handle more than 34,000 rail cars of resin annually
- Rail storage, in-plant services, ISO intermodal and more.
Quantix’s combined trucking fleet has 4,500 pieces of equipment, Ball said, including 1,400 of the signature vacuum pneumatic dry bulk trailers that have been its most recognizable assets for years. But now it also ranks among the top bulk/tank truck carriers in North America, along with the likes of Kenan Advantage Group, Quality Carriers (now part of CSX), Trimac Transportation, Heniff Transportation, and TFI International’s tank truck division.
Quantix also includes the largest brokerage for bulk truck services on the continent, the broadest distribution footprint for plastics and chemicals in the U.S., and a plastic exporting business that ranks second globally. But to many industry stakeholders, the old A&R still was the leading plastic hauler—and nothing more.
“We had a vision of completing this suite of supply chain services in the bulk industry, really around chemicals, but it was hard to do because people had their preconceived ideas of, ‘Hey, A&R is a dry bulk trucking company,’” Ball said. “We are now (top five) on the liquid side, from a scale perspective, but most people don’t know that because they didn’t know all the companies we’ve cobbled together were actually that big. When we bought RJ’s (in August), it really changed that liquid footprint for us big time, with another 400 trucks, and terminals where we weren’t located previously. That really made a big difference.
“So it’s all part of our plan, and it’s nice to see it come together, but we’re by no means done. We still have a whole list of companies in our acquisition pipeline.”
Still, Ball admits, retiring the well-established A&R name was difficult, and not a decision leadership made lightly. “It was a concern of ours,” he said. “And we had a lot of debate around doing it. We just felt like if we’re going to reposition ourselves as this platform to grow the chemical space, we needed to do it with a new brand. And we went back and forth about rebranding everything under A&R or doing something new.
“But a lot of people viewed A&R as the plastics hauler, so that was the challenge with the brand. Most people just saw us that way. So we spent a lot of money with a marketing company called Edelman to help us with this work, and they conducted a market study with our customers, and talked to them about how they view us. That’s what got us to where we are. We didn’t do it just because we thought it was a good idea.
“We spent the money to be able to answer definitively, ‘What makes the most sense?’”
Some aspects of the rebrand will occur gradually, Ball said. The goal is to apply the new logo and colors to all the company’s equipment, including its newest Peterbilt electric trucks, within the next six months.
Their efforts to grow Quantix through strategic add-ons will extend indefinitely.
Ball said 19 companies bid on A&R in 2019, and company leaders picked Wind Point because it supported their goal of transforming the business into one, all-encompassing, chemical supply chain solutions provider.
“We got to pick and choose the people we thought could take this business to the next level, from a management team perspective, and Wind Point got it,” he said. “They got the vision, they understood what we were trying to do, and they came with the checkbook, saying ‘We want to spend a lot of money here, and as long as you guys are performing well, we’re going to continue to feed the growth,’ and we’ve done that. The business has performed extremely well, and they’ve done everything they said they were going to do.”
With Wind Point’s help, Quantix now employs roughly 3,000 people, and has a pool of 1,600 company and owner-operator drivers.
They had only 700 drivers less than two years ago.
Going forward, new acquisitions will be rolled into Quantix at a faster pace, and they'll be evaluated on strategic and cultural fit—and their ability to further expand Quantix’s evolving capabilities and chemical industry coverage.
“We want successful businesses,” Ball said. “We’re not going to buy a business to try to turn it around. For example, Dillon (Logistics) just went out of business a few weeks ago, and we got asked twice to buy that business. But I didn’t want our guys going through the trouble of trying to turn that thing around, even though it might have been a good acquisition from a footprint standpoint, and for what we do.
“So we want smart acquisitions that are really additive to our brand and our footprint.”