Private equity firm buys stake in chassis provider FlexiVan

A private equity firm is acquiring a majority stake in FlexiVan, one of the oldest brands in marine chassis provisioning, and folding it into an upstart provider looking to bring more technology to the chassis business.

I Squared Capital acquired a controlling interest in FlexiVan, the third-largest U.S. chassis lessor, and will combine it with Scottsdale, Arizona-based American Intermodal Management (AIM). Terms of the deal were not announced.

Founded in 1955, New Jersey-based-FlexiVan came out of Fruehauf Trailer. Fruehauf’s vice president of engineering Keith Tantlinger worked with Malcolm McLean to develop an intermodal shipping container.

Fruehauf also financed McLean’s shipping line Sea-Land, which made the first ocean voyage of containerized freight from Newark to Houston.

After Freuhauf dissolved, FlexiVan became a standalone container and chassis lessor. David Murdock, the billionaire who also controlled Dole Foods, acquired FlexiVan in the 1980s, merging it with his private equity arm Castle & Cooke.

Castle & Cooke will retain a minority interest in the merged firm. 

Today, FlexiVan manages over 125,000 marine chassis across 300 North American locations. AIM, founded in 2016, runs a fleet of 12,000 marine chassis. Their fleet is equipped with global positioning system (GPS) technology.

“AIM’s innovative technology solutions complement the deep experience and relationships that FlexiVan has established over many years,” FlexiVan said in a statement.

“This transaction combines FlexiVan’s 65 years of operating history, nationwide presence and deep customer relationships with AIM’s fleet of new chassis, innovative technology and data analytics to offer our customer more flexibility and greater supply chain efficiency,” AIM Executive Chairman Ronald Widdows said in a statement. He will also serve as CEO of the combined company, which will do business under the FlexiVan name.

The combination of FlexiVan and AIM is the latest example of private equity’s interest in intermodal equipment. In March 2019, Apollo Global Management acquired Direct ChassisLink (DCLI) and logistics software integrator Blume Global in a deal valued at $2.5 billion.