Celadon Purchase Means Job Losses at Former Continental Express

Celadon Group Inc.'s purchase of Continental Express Inc. earlier this month has resulted in the loss of more than 250 jobs at the Little Rock truckload carrier.

One of Celadon's wholly-owned subsidiaries bought the truckload, intermodal and brokerage business, as well as approximately 400 tractors and 1,100 trailers of Continental Express for approximately $24 million.

Since the Dec. 4 deal, the administrative offices of the former Continental Express has been reduced from 70 employees to 30, according to Ralph Bradbury, former president of what was Continental Express, who added was the result of Celadon integrating much of that work to Indianapolis

Bradbury didn't call them layoffs, but said Tuesday that 220 drivers, some company drivers and some owner-operators, had moved on to work for other trucking companies.

Bradbury said Celadon will keep Continental's terminal open and about 300 drivers remain with the new owners. "Celadon will be extending employment opportunities to members of Continental's operations department and every driver that meets our qualifications," said Craig M. Koven, communications manager.

Bradbury said he and Pete Campbell, who was executive vice president, are the only two administrative officers retained by Celadon. Both have signed agreements to stay on for one year.

When the announcement was made, Celadon reported that, according to the seller's unaudited financial statements, Continental Express generated approximately $92 million in gross revenue in 2007.

Steve Russell, Celadon's chairman and chief executive officer, said, "Based on our evaluation of the business, we believe Continental has quality customers and drivers, but suffered from a cost structure that plagues many mid-sized carriers. We expect to integrate the acquired operations promptly. As part of the integration process, we expect to optimize the combined customer, driver, and equipment base to improve asset productivity. We expect the acquired operations to be accretive beginning in the March 2009 quarter."

Celadon ranks among the leading long-haul truckload carriers with revenue of $565.9 million in its fiscal 2008, which ended June 30.