- Lew Thompson & Son Trucking will more than double the size of its fleet to over 500 trucks by the end of 2024 following its acquisition last year by Covenant Logistics Group, Covenant President and COO Paul Bunn said on a Q4 earnings call last week.
- The projected growth is “based on contracts already signed,” Bunn said, noting the expansion could include another 250 trucks beyond that to more than triple the size of the 225-truck fleet, based in Huntsville, Arkansas.
- “If you can triple the volume on something in three, four years, that's a win,” Bunn said. “That's a win in our book — especially stuff that operates well, has good contracts, [a] good driver base and a really good customer base. So we couldn't be more excited about the prospects for the poultry business.”
Covenant is bullish on the poultry hauling business — even as it has navigated some of the challenges of chicken hauling in its first winter owning Lew Thompson.
“Everybody doesn't get into it because it is hard, and it is tough, and it is something that is not commoditized,” Covenant Founder and CEO David Parker said on the earnings call. “Those birds have got to get to the farms, even if it was last week and we had ice and snow all over the United States, and how are you reacting into that? How are you able to deliver those birds to the plants on time?”
The first 100 new trucks are expected to swell the size of Lew Thompson’s operation in Q1, Parker said.
Lew Thompson established the carrier, now led by his son Josh Thompson, in 1983. It originally hauled turkeys for Butterball, according to the company’s website.
“He's grown his business pretty much organically in his region, and we're offering the capital and the people to help grow outside of that region,” Parker said. “It's one of the biggest initiatives we have this year is to ensure these things are successful.”
The poultry carrier is one of Covenant’s two major acquisitions last year. The company spent $108 million on the “immediately accretive acquisitions” of Lew Thompson and Sims Transport Services, according to its Q4 earnings report.