By the company’s 30th anniversary in 2010, Combined Transport trucks had logged over 2 billion miles. Last year Combined finally shook off the aftereffects of the 2007 recession as 2012 annual revenues jumped 25% over the previous year to $127 million. Card now sees good times ahead for his company and the industry. “It’s an exciting time,” he says. “We have to turn down loads because we can’t hire enough drivers.” Just as he urges other companies to do, Card is keeping an eye out for first-generation companies looking to sell. “A lot of those trucking companies that started in the ’80s are just now coming into retirement and don’t have a second generation to carry them.” In the next five years, merger and acquisition activity will increase, Card predicts.
Card himself intends to follow an M&A plan he’s been perfecting since 2000, when Combined made its first acquisition. It’s a plan that is in keeping with his efforts to burnish the industry’s reputation. “We don’t want to bottom-feed just to get equipment and drivers,” he says. “That doesn’t work. When we find a company that has a good business model, we’re going to let them keep that model with employees and management structure in place and run them as a wholly owned subsidiary.”
A case in point: In 2012 Card purchased friend Mike Simone’s Blackwell Consolidation (formerly Cross Creek Trucking). The purchase included Blackwell’s 31-acre parcel of land situated within shouting distance of Interstate 5, solving a problem that’s vexed Card for years. “Moving operations over there is really going to help the Rogue Valley,” Card says. “We’ll eliminate over 50,000 truck miles by being that much closer to I-5. We won’t be clogging the two busiest intersections in the Valley, and we estimate saving over a quarter ton of pollution from the air shed.”
This is just another way of giving back to the state Card holds dear. As ATA chairman, Card preaches respect, professionalism and safety on the road. Back at home, he’s an equally vocal cheerleader for Oregon economic development. “I love it here,” he enthuses. “I was born and raised in Medford. Everyone in the trucking industry knows I’m from Oregon. I make a big deal out of it because I think it’s the best place in the world to live.”