J.B. Hunt to Buy Bassett’s Truckload Carrier Business

Zenith acquisition will broaden Hunt’s final-mile and furniture delivery network

By Alan Wolf, YSN

One of the nation’s largest truckload carriers is about to get even bigger.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services has announced plans to purchase Zenith Freight Lines from Bassett Furniture Industries for approximately $87 million.

The wholly-owned Bassett subsidiary provides specialized less-than-truckload (LTL) transportation and warehousing services for furniture retailers and manufacturers across the continental U.S.

Under terms of the deal, Zenith’s 1 million square feet of warehouse space will be integrated into Hunt’s Final Mile Services segment. Hunt already operates one of the largest nationwide, commingled cross-dock operations, with 116 locations, over 3.5 million square feet of warehouse and facilities space, and the ability to serve 100 percent of the contiguous U.S.

Hunt will also enter into a long-term master agreement to provide transportation services to Bassett.

“This investment enhances J.B. Hunt’s furniture delivery capabilities by expanding our nationwide, end-to-end supply chain solution for our customers,” said John Roberts, president/CEO of J.B. Hunt. “We look forward to establishing a long-term connection with Bassett.”

Added COO Nick Hobbs, “Zenith’s reputation in the furniture industry and their focus on quality customer service extends our model to be the best final mile provider in North America.”

 Zenith was founded half a century ago by Jack and Debbie Hawn in Conover, N.C. The carrier tranports products from manufacturing points or import locations utilizing employee drivers and late-model equipment to move over 250,000 loads annually.

In discussing the sale, Bassett CEO Robert Spilman, Jr. said, “The consolidation of traditional specialized furniture transportation is inevitable” and cited “the benefits that the scale of J.B. Hunt could provide in terms of equipment, technology, driver recruitment, intermodal transportation, and warehousing density.”

The purchase continues a growth-through-acquisition strategy for Hunt, which bought furniture and appliance delivery provider RDI Last Mile and Cory 1st Choice Home Delivery in 2019, according to supply-chain research firm FreightWaves.

The all-cash Zenith transaction is expected to close by Feb. 28.