Harvest Partners acquires Lazer Spot as ‘spotting’ market matures

Lazer Spot acquired

Private equity firm Harvest Partners has acquired a majority stake in Georgia-based Lazer Spot, shining a light on the maturing yard management services market.   

Harvest purchased the stake from Greenbriar Equity Group. Lazer Spot’s management team, led by CEO Adam Newsome, will continue to lead the company and remain significant owners of the business.

Additional terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1996, Lazer Spot has grown to 3,000 employees and expects to gross $320 million in 2020, Newsome told FreightWaves. Lazer Spot is in acquisition mode, he said, and seeks to buy smaller competitors so it can continue expanding across the country. The company completed its first acquisition, of Mesko Spotting, in June. 

“We’re actively looking to start rolling up the market,” Newsome said.

The only national provider of spotting services, Lazer Spot specializes in the movement of empty and full trailers at customers’ distribution centers and manufacturing facilities. The company also provides shuttling services, on-demand movement of empty or full trailers between customers’ sites, distribution facilities, third-party rail yards and shipping ports.

“All we do, we move 25 million trailers a year,” Newsome said. 

Elaborating on the details of the job, Newsome said when a carrier drops a trailer in a yard, Lazer Spot takes it to the warehouse to be loaded and unloaded, then “spots” it back to the yard.  

“We may only move a trailer 500 yards, even 100 yards,” Newsome said. “But you still have to have all our trucks and our drivers to get trailers loaded and unloaded.” 

The company serves mostly Fortune 500 companies, operating at more than 400 sites in 37 states. Its first Canadian operations opened last year.

Company assets include 1,600 power units,1,250 spotter trucks and 350 day cab short shuttles. 

Several factors are spurring industry growth, according to Newsome. Over-the-road drivers, compensated by the mile, want to get in and out of a shipper’s warehouse as fast as possible. Waiting in a facility for two to three hours takes away from their driving time as well as their hours of service, Newsome said.

Along with e-commerce, another trend driving the market is that many shippers are looking to trailer programs as a way of attracting the best carriers. “A lot of carriers are like, ‘I’m not going to wait three hours to get loaded or unloaded,’” said Newsome. 

“Basically we’re an efficiency,” he explained, saying the underlying problem the company seeks to solve is “how can we avoid [the driver] having to wait?”

In a statement, Michael DeFlorio, president of Harvest, said the firm “is excited to partner with Adam and the entire Lazer Spot team. They have built a unique business with a clear path for long-term growth. We are looking forward to helping the team achieve their goal of continued organic growth while accelerating their acquisition strategy.”

Lazer Spot retains a family leadership team. Newsome’s uncle, Phil Newsome, is COO, and his sister, Stephanie Newsome Ryan, is vice president of customer solutions.  

“We’ve probably got some cousins running around, but we don’t claim them,” Newsome joked.