by Gwen Moritz
Posted 2/3/2014 11:07 am
Updated 10 months ago
Bruce Oakley Inc., the $1 billion revenue transportation company headquartered in North Little Rock, has struck a deal to buy the largest private terminal operator on the Arkansas River in Oklahoma.
The acquisition of Johnston's Port 33 Inc. was announced Saturday. No terms of the deal were released, but the companies said they expect to close the sale on Feb. 8.
JP33 is a wholly owned subsidiary of W.B Johnston Grain Co. of Enid, Okla., and it owns ports near Tulsa and Muskogee, Okla., and operates two under contranct on the Lower Mississippi River at Chalmette and Gramercy, La. Bruce Oakley will continue to operate all four locations, according to President Dennis Oakley, son of the company's founder.
Bruce Oakley already has a small presence in Oklahoma - a small truck terminal at Inola - but the JP33 acquisition is the intermodal transporter's first port venture in Oklahoma.
Dennis Oakley said the acquisition will bring approximately 130 employees to his company, pushing its total employment to about 600. JP33 General Manager Steve Taylor and three of his family members will remain on staff, and Lew Meibergen, chairman of the board of W.B. Johnston Grain Co., "will remain as consultant," the announcement said.
"They've got a good bunch, and we've worked with them forever," Dennis Oakley said. "We've known some of them for 30 years or better."
JP33's terminal near Tulsa is the largest private terminal on the McClellan Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, according to Gene Higginbotham, executive director of the Arkansas Waterways Commission.
"It's big for Oakley," Higginbotham said.
Bruce Oakley's revenue topped $1 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2012. Bruce Oakley Inc. was ranked No. 9 on Arkansas Business' most recent list of the state largest private companies.
Neither Steve Taylor, general manager of JP33, nor Dennis Oakley, president of Bruce Oakley Inc., was immediately available for comment.
In 2011, Bruce Oakley Inc. purchased JanTran Inc. of Rosedale, Miss., the largest operator of towboats pushing barges up and down the McClellan Kerr system.