American West Buys Milwaukee Delivery Service

Powell Slaughter - Furniture Today, January 25, 2018 - SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – American West will acquire fellow specialized furniture Milwaukee Delivery Service for an undisclosed amount, effective Feb. 1.

The move is an example of ongoing consolidation among specialized carriers, and among other things will support Amwest’s growing business in e-commerce fulfillment.

MDS has been a furniture carrier for approximately 25 years, the same as Awest. MDS picks up furniture in North Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi and California and for transfer to its distribution facility in Jefferson, Wis. The shipments are cross-docked and then delivered by MDS’ trucks to retailers in several states.

The Jefferson facility joins existing Amwest locations in Northern California, Southern California, Dallas and Greensboro, N.C. With the acquisition, Amwest now has a fleet of more than 100 tractors and drivers. American West delivers to retailers, and also e-commerce fulfillment and home delivery, in all 48 contiguous U.S.states. Amwest also provides pool distribution services to the office furniture manufacturing industry at each of its terminals.

MDS offered an opportunity to support growth and, as importantly, a good cultural fit with Amwest, said Amwest CEO Josh Brown.

“We have always tried to grow our business geographically, horizontally and vertically, and we’re always interested in acquisition opportunities,” he said. “Those opportunities are always evaluated upon finances, as well as upon culture.”

He added that Amwest has passed on a couple of possible acquisitions because of culture clash.

“(CIO and Administrative Officer) Michelle Crow and (COO) Reed Cullum and I spent time at (the MDS) facility a few weeks ago and we were really impressed,” said American West CEO Josh Brown in a letter to employees and customers. “Just like Amwest, MDS has great people who care about doing a great job and helping their customers.”

MDS Owner T.J. Alfuth will join Amwest along with all the staff, warehouse, and drivers. Brown added that the Awest and MDS teams are working to identify synergies.

“The combination of these proven companies will allow additional services now in California and new for us, Dallas, Texas,” said Alfuth in a letter to customers.

The MDS acquisition also provides an opportunity for Amwest to extend its reach in ecommerce fulfillment.

“We started five years ago, and now it’s approaching 50% of our total revenue,” Brown said. “To support final mile, we have more than 250 Amwest agents throughout the United States to support that home delivery.”

In addition, 20-year transportation and logistics executive Dan Hunt will officially join Amwest’s senior management team as chief financial officer, effective Feb. 1. He had been working with Amwest for several months in a consulting capacity to help arrange the MDS acquisition.

Hunt served as vice president of Warren Trucking Co., a specialized furniture carrier serving the Northeast, for 17 years, where he and his team grew Warren to $20 million in revenue through good service, leveraging innovation around operations, deploying technology and strong hiring practices.

He also served as CEO of WorldWide Logistics, a merger of six specialized furniture carriers which he orchestrated, forming an $80 million national furniture carrier. Hunt then left the industry to run a professional services firm in Indianapolis, where and his team grew that business from $5 million to $11 million in five years.

“Trucking is in Dan’s blood and his desire to bring his experience and passion back to our industry led him to assist in the acquisition of Milwaukee Delivery Services by American West,” Brown said. “During that process, he was impressed by the people at American West. Their professionalism, vision and commitment to their customers were very compelling.”