Posted by Ian: Last fall, MacKinnon Transport of Guelph purchased long-established Elgin trucking firm, Walker Transport. In January of 2010, Walker filed for creditor protection, this after laying off 30 drivers the week before Christmas. Obviously the family-run business, originally based in Aylmer, caught the attention of MacKinnon and so the merger proved attractive. It’s hard to imagine Walker’s value deteriorated so quickly. Or do you pick off the attractive fruit from the tree and leave the rest to rot. Kyle Rea had the following update in the Times-Journal (see below), and more background is available here and a further backgrounder, including an interview with MacKinnon President and CEO Evan MacKinnon can be found here . Here’s Kyle’s story …
A trucking company with long roots in the St. Thomas area, acquired last year by a Guelph-based business, has filed for bankruptcy.
On Dec. 3, the CIBC bank called in its loan for L.E. Walker Transport Ltd., — five days later, the company filed for creditor protection and remained that way until its assets were purchased by MacKinnon Transport Inc., of Guelph, Ont., on Jan. 8.
Walker was purchased last year by MacKinnon but operated separately, noted MacKinnon president Evan MacKinnon.
“It was not how MacKinnon intended the process to go, but the end result is very similar to what it would have been for Walker either way,” MacKinnon explained, adding they’re working to integrate Walker’s customer base into their own.
Ten staff from L.E. Walker’s South Edgeware Road office, interested in relocating to MacKinnon’s headquarters in Guelph, have been hired as have three-quarters of Walker’s 100 drivers.
Thirty drivers, however, were laid off just before Christmas.
“We were fortunate to maintain most of the staff. We would have liked to retain them all. It just wasn’t possible, so we did our best to retain as many as possible and retain the customer base,” MacKinnon said.
The company wanted to hire 100% of the local drivers, he noted, but a deterioration in the customer base between the time Walker was acquired and December unfolded.
That affected MacKinnon’s plans for Walker Transport.
“There just wasn’t enough work to keep all the drivers,” MacKinnon noted. “We hated laying anybody off, let alone at Christmas time.”
As for the St. Thomas site, it’s still being used for truck parking, but is up for sale as the company looks for a smaller location closer to Highway 401.
Founded in Aylmer back in 1947 by Evan and Lola Walker, L.E. Walker started with two trucks for a cartage operation, their first customer being Imperial Tobacco. Julie (Walker) Tanguay, Walker Group’s last president, took over the family trucking business with her sisters, Laurie and Wendie, and their mother, Jean, in 1987.
In 1999, the company moved to a 20-acre site on South Edgeware Road.
When news of the Walker-MacKinnon merger was announced last August, Tanguay took a position in Guelph as executive vice-president of sales.