Arkansas Best seeks space, subsidiary growth

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 131 views 

About 50 Arkansas Best employees will in a few months move into the former Best Buy building fronting Interstate 540 in Fort Smith as part of a move to create more space for the company’s growing “non-asset” based business.

“Non-asset” is a fancy term for the company’s subsidiaries not related to the operation of ABF Freight System, the largest subsidiary of Fort Smith-based Arkansas Best Corp.

ABF was responsible for $1.73 billion of the $1.907 billion in revenue Arkansas Best posted during 2011. The company, which owns one of the largest less-than-truckload carriers in the U.S., posted 2011 net of $6.159 million, a huge swing from the $32.693 million loss during 2010. The 2011 financials marked the end of two consecutive years of income losses.

Company officials hope to build on the recent gains by boosting revenue on the non-asset side of the house. Part of that effort involves providing more space for the growing  special services logistics division of the company, a division that includes subsidiaries Albert Companies, and Moving Solutions. The two companies “provide services to the consumer, corporate, and military household goods moving market,” according to Arkansas Best literature.

Arkansas Best recently purchased Wichita Falls, Texas-based Albert for $4 million.

At the end of 2011, the special services division recorded $85.6 million in revenue, up over $63.7 million during 2010. Operating income in the segment during 2011 was $2.7 million, up almost 60% compared to the $1.7 million during 2010.

U-Pack, a division of Arkansas Best that falls under the freight transportation (ABF) division, works close with the Albert operations.

The Relo Roundtable reported that acquiring Albert Companies allows Arkansas Best to participate in what is considered lucrative moving contracts with the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.

“It is not clear when the renovations on that (Best Buy) building will be complete but we hope that it is ready for some of our folks to move in during the second quarter,” David Humphrey, Arkansas Best vice president of investor relations and corporate communications. “We are pleased with the opportunities we see for growth of these segments of our company. As we needed overflow for some of our folks, this facility was a good option for us to pursue.”

Humphrey said more than 1,000 work at the company’s corporate headquarter building on Old Greenwood Road. Humphrey said moving some employees out of the corporate headquarters building will create more room for growth in all sectors.