UPDATED: Transplace relocating NWA operations from Lowell to new $46 million building in Rogers

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 9,633 views 

EDITOR’S NOTE:  An earlier version of this story has been updated with quotes throughout.

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The city of Rogers is gaining a major employer.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, members of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and other state and local officials gathered Wednesday (March 27) for a groundbreaking to announce a new $46 million building along Interstate 49, north of Home Depot in the Magnolia Farms addition. When completed in early 2021, the three-story, 148,000-square-foot building will be the new Northwest Arkansas headquarters of Transplace, a third-party transportation management and logistics technology firm based in Frisco, Texas.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Wednesday morning that the Rogers City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to issue $46 million in industrial revenue bonds to the building developer, which will lease the building to Transplace.

“I am pleased Transplace has found the workforce and resources in Northwest Arkansas that will allow for their continued success and growth,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “Arkansas has experience in the transportation industry and today’s technology sector, along with a dedicated, skilled workforce to meet this innovative company’s needs.”

In Northwest Arkansas, Transplace is based at 509 Enterprise Drive, just off Interstate 49 in Lowell, where it employs about 600 workers in approximately 80,000 square feet of office space. The move to Rogers is expected to increase the number of workers to between 1,100 and 1,200, with an estimated $60 million in payroll.

“Transplace has a deep heritage in Northwest Arkansas and has continued to expand its presence in the region over the past 20 years,” said Transplace CEO Frank McGuigan. “Continuing to invest in this area, which has become a global logistics hub, supports our company vision and goals, while building value for our growing customer base and creating attractive opportunities for employees.”

The approximately 15-acre site is south of the Cedar Brook neighborhood on the recently built Magnolia Street, a new east-west artery that will eventually cross over Interstate 49 and connect to South 52nd St. The overpass is under construction and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

“We’re definitely sorry we couldn’t find anything for them in Lowell, but we are glad they stayed inside the state and specifically Northwest Arkansas,” Lowell Mayor Chris Moore said. “They are trying to get [their Northwest Arkansas employees] under one roof, and by the looks of it they have a wonderful opportunity off the interstate to do such a thing.”

The land is part of a 45-acre tract owned by EF Capital Management, an alternative asset manager based in The Woodlands, Texas. EF Capital acquired the land, and an adjoining 39-acre tract to the east across South Promenade Boulevard, four years ago. It was an all-cash deal worth $8.3 million.

EF Capital acquired the land for Arkansas native Meg Molleston, a lawyer by trade and executive with GeoSouthern Energy Corp., one of the largest independent oil and gas producing companies in the country. It also is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas.

Rogers developer Hunter Haynes is under contract to buy the 15-acre site from EF Capital and will own the new building. Haynes is also developing an 85,530-square-foot office building that’s also on Magnolia Street, at the southwest corner of South Promenade Boulevard.

Baldwin & Shell Construction in Rogers will be the general contractor of the Transplace building. Dallas-based Corgan is handling the interior architecture and Silas Seger, owner of Seger Architecture in Wisconsin, is the building designer.

“We are thankful for Transplace’s investment in Rogers and are excited to watch them grow,” Rogers Mayor Greg Hines said. “The new operations center will provide many new, high-paying jobs for the area and many benefits to the region, now and into the future.”

Robbie Baty, Bill McClung and Marshall Saviers of Cushman & Wakefield represented Transplace in the property search, and Betty McIntosh and Carol Henderson, also of Cushman & Wakefield, provided business incentives services. The firm will also help oversee construction management, led by Kyle Bramlett.

TRANSPLACE PROFILE
Transplace was created in 2000 by J.B. Hunt Transport Services and five other trucking companies — Swift Transportation, U.S. Xpress Enterprises, Covenant Transportation Group Inc., M.S. Carriers and Werner Enterprises. The business has changed hands several times. J.B. Hunt maintained majority ownership of Transplace until 2009, when it was acquired by private investment firm CI Capital Partners LLC of New York.

Most recently it was acquired from Greenbriar Equity Group in 2017 by TPG Capital, a $75 billion private equity firm based in San Francisco. The amount was not disclosed.

As the largest managed transportation service provider in North America, Transplace generates gross revenue in excess of $3 billion from more than 1,000 customers. According to previous reporting by the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, Transplace revenue for 2010 was about $800 million.

This past October, the company announced an acquisition of Yusen Logistics (Americas) Inc.’s intermodal marketing company/over-the-road freight brokerage group.

A subsidiary of Nippon Yusen Kaisha, Yusen Logistics (Americas) Inc. is a global logistics and transportation provider with offices in 44 countries and regions. The newly acquired intermodal operations, with locations in Jacksonville, Fla., Cincinnati, Ohio, Memphis, Tenn., Chicago and Dallas, will operate as part of Transplace’s intermodal division — Celtic Intermodal, which is led by President Doug Punzel.

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