Arkansas Best to Close 30 Service Terminals

Arkansas Best Corp. of Fort Smith is working to close 30 service facilities for its ABF Freight System Inc. subsidiary, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

The filing said the publicly traded trucking and logistics firm had already closed eight facilities. By the time the plan is fully implemented, the company will have 247 service centers, down from 277 at the beginning of the 2013.

Two centers in Arkansas, in Harrison and Russellville, are on the list to close, according to Kathy Feiweger, Arkansas Best's chief marketing officer.

"The proposed change is part of an ongoing, dynamic network analysis that was initiated in 2013 along with other efforts at ABF Freight to return the company to sustained, historic profitability," the company said in the filing.

The company said it's in the process of meeting and reviewing the proposed change with all local unions involved. It plans a hearing on closings sometime in "early January."

The next 22 consolidations, including the ones in Arkansas, are scheduled for the first part of the new year. The company said it would provide detail on cost savings in its first-quarter conference call in April.

Arkansas Best has been working to return ABF Freight to greater levels of profitability. In October, the trucking company reached a five-year labor agreement with the Teamsters union. In November, it reported third-quarter earnings and revenue that beat expectations. Still, for the most recent nine-month period, the subsidiary's operating income "was just above break-even."