Continental Express Hits Bumpy Road

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, May. 4, 2009 12:00 am  

Ralph Bradbury, right, the former president of Continental Express Inc., and Pete Campbell, the former executive vice president of CEI, were the only two executives retained by the Celadon Group Inc., which bought the truckload, intermodal and brokerage b

Mid-South Sales of Jonesboro, which is a distributor of fuel and petroleum products, said Continental owed for diesel fuel and other products purchased between September and December.

Continental hasn’t filed a response in the case, which was filed in January in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

On Dec. 4, the day Celadon announced the purchase of Continental, Ed Harvey and his wife, Bonnie, took out a $1.3 million loan from Daimler Financial Services Americas LLC of Farmington Hills, Mich.

The Harveys were supposed to repay the loan when they sold a yacht that is in Florida or interest in the Travis Lumber Co. of Mena, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock. If neither of those events happened, the money was due on March 4.

The lawsuit said that neither sale occurred. And the couple hasn’t repaid the money, the lawsuit said.

“We’re still trying to find the Harveys to get service on them,” said Mitchell Berry of Little Rock, the attorney who filed the case for Daimler Financial. On the promissory note application, they listed their address in Dallas, but they also have a Little Rock address.

Early Trucking Days
Bradbury, Continental’s former president, told the Arkansas Gazette in 1990 that Continental started out with five tractors in 1985 and then the company quickly took off.

Its revenue jumped from $6.8 million in 1986 to $19.8 million in 1989.

Bradbury credited Continental’s management team and its owner, Ed Harvey, for the success, according to the 1990 article.

By 1990, Continental owned or had an interest in more than 500 tractors and 800 trailers. And it continued growing in the 1990s.

At the end of 1997, Bradbury owned 5 percent of Continental. But Ed Harvey still was the largest shareholder with 87 percent of the company owned; Bonnie Harvey owned 2.6 percent. Ed Harvey’s stepdaughter, Jill Pryor, owned less than 1 percent of the company. Pryor’s husband is Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

In 1999, the American Trucking Associations listed Continental as one of the 10 most profitable truckload carriers in the country.



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