Christenson Transportation announced Monday that it is expanding its freight network with the recent acquisition of Sharp Transport Inc.
The acquisition of family-owned Sharp Transport, headquartered in Ethridge, Tennessee, which has approximately 120 drivers, including a mix of company drivers and owner-operators, brings the Strafford, Missouri-based Christenson Transportation fleet to nearly 300 drivers and will add around 240 tractors and 940 trailers.
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but the acquisition was finalized on Dec. 31.
Don Christenson, president and CEO of Christenson Transportation, told FreightWaves in an exclusive interview that his family-owned company passed on acquiring four or five companies in 2021 before entering into talks with Sharp Transport about buying its trucking and brokerage operations.
“We found Sharp Transport late in the year but from our initial meeting with the Sharp family, we knew that their driver culture was similar to ours and that was really important to us,” Christenson told FreightWaves.
He said Christenson Transportation, which has a second location in Lebanon, Tennessee, currently hauls about 93% customer-direct dry van freight throughout the lower 48 states. The acquisition of Sharp, which also operates in the same freight lanes, will offer Christenson’s customers additional freight capacity.
Christenson said his company will also fold Sharp Transport’s brokerage arm into its existing firm, CS Carrier Service LLC of Strafford, which was founded by his dad, Gene Christenson, in 1979.
Sharp Transport, which operates a second terminal in Nashville, Tennessee, owns its own maintenance shop, an offering Christenson didn’t have, which Don Christenson said will help lower the trucking company’s operating and maintenance costs.
“We’ve added some strong new management with this acquisition and we’ve acquired property in Missouri to build a shop there as well,” he told FreightWaves. “I tell people that it’s easy to quit a job but it’s hard to quit on your friends and family. Our goal is to make our drivers feel like they are part of our family and Sharp Transport shares that same goal.”
Don Christenson said his company’s management team has been preparing for the next generation to eventually take over, as has Sharp Transport’s. Both companies have third-generation family members involved in the day-to-day operations.
Christenson’s son, RayVaun Christenson, will serve as the director of operations, while Chase Atkins, the grandson of Sharp Transport founders John and Rebecca “Becky” Sharp, will move to his new position as the company’s COO.
Sharp Transport decides to sell
Allie Sharp-Schwalb, who served as president and CEO of Sharp Transport prior to the acquisition, said she will assume a role as vice president of the new company for three years to help with the transition. The company will be renamed Sharp Transport, a division of Christenson Transportation.
Sharp-Schwalb said she started working for Sharp Transport in 1988 as a driver manager before later assuming the top position at the company her parents founded in 1979.
Even after assuming the CEO role at her family-owned company, Sharp-Schwalb said she’s been on call at night for the past 20 years, “taking calls from drivers about dispatch or operational issues.”
“I don’t take maintenance calls but I wanted our drivers to feel like they could talk to someone about an issue if they needed to,” she told FreightWaves. “Over the years, I’ve had to answer fewer and fewer calls as others have come to understand the importance of addressing our drivers’ concerns. I believe this culture will continue under Christenson Transportation.”
After 42 years in operation, Sharp-Schwalb said she and her parents have been considering selling the family business for a few years, but agreed that it had to be the right fit before the family-owned trucking company would agree to any deal.
“Transportation has been really good to our family for a lot of years and we just decided it was time to join forces with another family-owned trucking company that shares similar values,” Sharp-Schwalb said. “Rising costs, used equipment prices and driver recruiting issues definitely played a factor in our decision.”