Mark-It Express Logistics begins expansion efforts with acquisition of Spirit Trucking

Mark-It Express executives

Mark-It Express Logistics founder and President Tony Apa has a vision for his 12-year-old
company – to become a national name. The Chicagoland business is taking steps
in that direction with the acquisition of Spirit Trucking Company, also based
in Chicago.

Tony Apa, founder of Mark-It Express
Tony Apa Jr. is a third-generation logistics professional, having founded Mark-It Express in 2008. (Photo: Mark-It Express)

“The acquisition definitely takes us to the right size to be a formidable player in drayage,” Apa told FreightWaves, adding that he is looking to expand the company’s national footprint. “We’re really looking to be a national scale player in the intermodal drayage space. We have a few other key (possibilities) we are looking at.”

Terms of the deal, which was
advised by Republic Partners, were not disclosed. Jonathan Britva, principal of Republic, said
the plan is strategic growth rather than expansion funded by private equity.

“This is the strategy that Tony and
I and some of his other advisers are thinking through,” Britva said. “This is
likely the first acquisition of several. As Tony said, the platform is starting
to be put into place.”

Horwood Marcus & Berk Chartered
also advised on the deal.

Spirit has approximately 78 trucks,
giving Mark-It a combined fleet total of 175 vehicles, with offices in Kansas
City, Kansas, and Detroit in addition to Chicago.

Mark-It Express provides intermodal
logistics solutions, including local and regional drayage and yard services
with terminals in Lemont, Illinois; Detroit and Kansas City. Its rolling stock
includes specialized chassis, 53-foot dry vans and 53-foot refrigerated
trailers. The company was recently named to Crain Chicago’s Fast 50 for the
second time and Inc. 5000 for the fourth time. A sister company, Mark-It
Express, offers freight brokerage.

Spirit was founded in 1979 by
President Robert Denton. Apa said Spirit will be incorporated into Mark-It’s
operations and the management team will remain in place, moving into the
Mark-It Chicago offices.

Mark-It Express Chicago office
Mark-It Express operates both an asset-based logistics company and a freight brokerage. (Photo: Mark-It Express)

“Spirit is one of the long-standing
names in intermodal,” Apa said, noting that the Denton name is a historic one
that helped make Chicago an intermodal powerhouse. The acquisition expands
Mark-It’s ability to serve its customers and provides continued opportunity for
Spirit’s customers to maintain the high levels of service they have become
accustomed to.

Apa said the deal will lead to some
“great operational synergies” and on a combined basis, the combined group of
companies will see top-line revenues “just shy of $60 million” in the first

Mark-It Express began after Apa
left the corporate world following time working in the family business. He is
third generation in the logistics industry, having started in warehousing
before getting his commercial driver’s license at the age of 18. He also spent
time as a dispatcher.

Both Apa and Britva hope the Spirit
acquisition becomes just the first step in Mark-It becoming the leading
intermodal trucking and freight brokerage provider nationally.

“I think we want people to know
that we are open for the right opportunities. We’re actively looking to add on
to what we’ve acquired with Spirit and we’re looking for the right strategic
opportunities,” Britva said.