ArcBest holds anniversary event for Fort Smith employees, free concert set for October

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 2,437 views 

image courtesy of ArcBest

Fort Smith-based ArcBest held a 100-year anniversary event Thursday (Sept. 14) night with local employees. The event was held at the ArcBest Performing Arts Center in the Fort Smith Convention Center, included comments from Fort Smith Mayor George McGill.

The $2.43 billion market cap company is the parent company of ABF Freight, one of the nation’s largest less-than-truckload carriers. The company, which has more than 15,000 employees at just under 250 locations, also has a large logistics operation.

The company was founded in 1923 as a freight hauler within the Fort Smith metro. Fort Smith attorney Robert Young Jr. acquired the company in 1951 and began a series of acquisitions that resulted in the company growing into a national carrier. The company, now known as Arkansas Best Corporation, would go public in 1972 with shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company would survive a hostile takeover in 1988 and would be taken private. In 1992 the company would again go public, with shares now traded on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. In 2006, Robert Young III, son of Robert Young, would retire as president and CEO after 42 years with the company. Robert Davidson would succeed Young III, and would hold the job until retiring in 2009. Judy McReynolds was named president and CEO Jan. 1, 2010, and continues to lead the company.

“Reaching 100 years in business is a remarkable milestone, especially in our industry. We wouldn’t be here without the expertise, drive and dedication of our people; they are truly at the heart of our success! We’re happy to commemorate this moment in our company’s history by celebrating our employees Thursday evening and throughout the rest of the year,” ArcBest Board Chair, President and CEO McReynolds said in a statement.

Mayor McGill was set to be part of Thursday’s event. He told Talk Business & Politics that the company is a “key part” of the region’s economic engine and helps put the city on the map.

“Needless to say, ArcBest is one of the business pillars of the city. There have been many cities that have courted them to relocate. But because of their business leaders’ belief in the region, belief in the workforce, they have remained a corporate partner with us here in Fort Smith, Arkansas,” McGill said.

ArcBest also scheduled a free community concert Oct. 7 at its corporate headquarters as part of the 100-year celebration. The Fort Smith Symphony is providing the music.

The company in 2023 is coming off a record financial year in 2022. ArcBest’s 2022 full-year revenue was $5.324 billion, up 33.7% compared with 2021 revenue. Full-year net income was $298.209 million, up 39.6% compared with 2021. ArcBest net income in the first half of the fiscal year totaled $111.726 million, below the $172.03 million in the same period of 2022. Revenue in the first six months was $2.209 billion, also below the $2.589 billion compared with record levels set in the same period of 2022.

The consensus estimate among analysts who cover ArcBest for the third quarter is that the company will post per share earnings of $1.73, which would be well below the $3.50 in the third quarter of 2022. The revenue consensus estimate is $1.13 billion, below the $1.34 billion in the same quarter of 2022.

ArcBest in 2023 secured a new five-year labor contract with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The new contract will cover an estimated 8,600 ABF workers who are members of 137 local unions under the Teamsters umbrella. A wage increase was a key change in the new contract. Union members will receive a $3.50 per hour raise effective July 1, 2023, with a total of $6.50 in raises over the life of the agreement. The wage increase in year one alone surpasses those of the entire previous contract, according to both parties.

ArcBest shares (NASDAQ: ARCB) closed Thursday at $103.20, up $2.20. The share price in the past 52 weeks has ranged between $122.86 and $68.