Revenue Rise Pushes Transport Firms Up List

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, May. 21, 2012 12:00 am  

Last year, Rochelle Bartholomew Gorman, CEO of CalArk International Inc. of Mabelvale, predicted better times ahead for the trucking and transportation industry. She was mostly right.

(Click here for a list of transportation companies among the largest private companies in Arkansas.)

Bruce Oakley Inc., for example, saw its 2011 revenue rise 32.7 percent compared with 2010, leaping from $509.4 million to $676.1 million. That increase bumped the transportation company up the Arkansas Business list of 75 largest private companies to No. 13 from its position last year at No. 22.

All three transportation companies on this year's list scored higher spots.

Maverick USA Inc. of North Little Rock moved from 44 to 37 this year, bolstered by a 19.7 percent increase in revenue in 2011 compared with 2010. And CalArk inched up to No. 56, up from No. 59 on last year's list. A 12.9 percent rise in revenue accounted for CalArk's improved showing. The long-haul trucking company reported $135.7 million in revenue in 2011 compared with $120.2 million in 2010.

Falling off the list was Carco Capital Inc. of Fort Smith. It failed to make this year's $80 million cutoff after it reported revenue that fell almost 9 percent in 2011 to $67 million. That's compared with $73.5 million in revenue in 2010.

Dennis Oakley, president of Bruce Oakley, based in North Little Rock, credits higher commodity prices and the slowly rebounding economy for his company's sales improvement.

Bruce Oakley Inc., which transports bulk commodities, is highly diversified. The company is involved in barge lines and river ports.

Its Oakley Barge Lines Inc. operates barges throughout the inland waterways of the U.S., moving commodities from, as its website notes, "Pittsburgh to Brownsville, Minneapolis to Mobile, Chicago to New Orleans and all points in between."

It operates ports on the Arkansas River at Morrilton, Dardanelle, Pendleton (Desha County) and North Little Rock; on the Mississippi River at Caruthersville, Mo.; and on the Red River at Shreveport. The company provides storage, loading and unloading and transportation services at its ports.

Last year it bought Jantran Inc. of Rosedale, Miss., a marine transport business with about 20 towboats that operate on the Mississippi, Arkansas and Red rivers. Oakley called the purchase a "really good fit. I've known those guys almost all my life. And they push all our barges up the Arkansas River." Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
Bruce Oakley Inc., through its subsidiaries, also distributes bulk and bag fertilizers, grains and fracking sand.

"Our sales are dictated a lot by the commodity prices," Dennis Oakley said. Higher commodity prices - such as those seen last year for grain and fertilizer - lead to higher sales figures. In addition, he said, "we've increased grain capacity, added some storage. We've been adding to our barge fleet some and trucking revenue is up."

Its trucking segment alone, Oakley Trucking Inc., reported a 17.2 percent increase in 2011 revenue - to $115.4 million - compared with 2010.

As for this year, Oakley said, "So far it's looking good. We're running slightly behind last year, and I'm hoping we catch up."



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