On Friday, Coyote Logistics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UPS (NYSE: UPS) laid off all the carrier representatives in its Chattanooga office, leaving a small group of salespeople and administrative workers. Coyote had let the office shrink by attrition over the past year, not hiring replacements for brokers who left, but yesterday about 25 people in Chattanooga lost their jobs. Thirty IT workers were also cut from Coyote’s Chicago headquarters.
In one sense it’s the end of an era for freight brokerage in Chattanooga.
Coyote’s office in the city was based on its 2014 acquisition of Chattanooga’s Access America for approximately $260 million in stock and cash (the deal size was never officially disclosed). Access America was a fast-growing freight brokerage founded in Chattanooga in 2002 that eventually opened offices in Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, San Antonio, and other locations.
The layoffs at Coyote come at a time of widespread reductions in headcount across the transportation and logistics industry. The former Coyote brokers in Chattanooga will find jobs.
Other brokerages with offices in Chattanooga have reached out to FreightWaves to say they’re hiring, including Covenant Transport Solutions, the GuideOn Group, Trident Transport, and Arrive Logistics.
Over the years, many freight brokers and future entrepreneurs passed through Access and Coyote’s doors on Warehouse Row in Chattanooga, and a number of transportation and logistics companies in the city have roots in the company.
Ted Alling, Access America’s co-founder and former CEO, is a partner at the Lamp Post Group and Dynamo Ventures. Chad Eichelberger, who was the president of Access America when it sold, is now the president of Reliance Partners, a commercial vehicle insurance agency; his partner Ronald Ramsey, Reliance’s chief commercial officer, was executive vice president at Access and Coyote. Steve Cox, who was executive vice president at Access, is now the president and COO of Steam Logistics, a Chattanooga-based freight forwarder. Carter Garrett, who was a regional vice president at Access and then Coyote, is now the vice president of Trident Transport. Asa Shirley and Ryan Doherty, both sales managers at Access America and Coyote, are now senior vice presidents of sales at Arrive’s Chattanooga location. Keith Gray, vice president of operations at LYNC Logistics, was a national account manager at Access and then Coyote. The list goes on.
Even FreightWaves has benefited from the logistics culture established by Access America: our own ocean market expert, Henry Byers, honed his craft in truckload and less-than-truckload brokerage at Access and Coyote before getting into freight forwarding at Steam Logistics.
Access America and Coyote Logistics formed some important secondary building blocks of Chattanooga’s freight culture—family-owned businesses like U.S. Xpress (NYSE: USX), Covenant Transportation (NASDAQ: CVTI) and Kenco were the foundation.
In 2015, UPS acquired Coyote Logistics for $1.8 billion, about one times revenue. Since then, Coyote has doubled in size, with an estimated 2019 revenue of $4 billion.
In the past two years, UPS corporate management has made a series of changes to the brokerage, including reducing incentive-based compensation, removing carrier reps’ visibility into their margins per load, and aggressively enforcing non-compete clauses—even against non-revenue generating employees like carrier reps—in an attempt to reduce churn and control costs.