Dairy Farmers of America proposes massive milk haulers merger

By Ryn Gargulinski: Freedom Newspapers

More business will soon be hauled into eastern New Mexico — by the milk trucking industry.
And Dairy Farmers of America representative Walter Bradley said last week the national dairyman’s organization is working on a plan that would increase its trucking fleet by at least eight fold.
Bradley said DFA, which owns Milk Transport Services in Portales, is looking to merge with other milk haulers in the area, a move he said was due to the development of Southwest Cheese and other processors in the area — and one he said will save money for all involved.
“Because we’re fractured right now,” Bradley said, “one company can only haul those company’s transports.” He said trucks only leave when they have a full load, then return empty.
Under the plan Bradley said is being discussed, a driver would be dispatched to a location and could leave the trailer for another truck to haul back, since DFA would own all the trailers. There would be no waiting time for another transport to arrive, Bradley said, since the truck could haul back whatever was there and would not have to wait for one of their own empties.
If DFA had a larger fleet of trucks, Bradley said, the trips could be shorter and quicker, as trucks would load up quicker, could deliver to locations that were closer together and nearer their dispatched locations, and thus “save millions of dollars.”
For instance, Bradley said, trucks dispatched from Clovis would make trips to vicinities nearest to Clovis. They would not need to send Clovis trucks to, say, Dallas, Bradley added, as trucks dispatched from Shallowater, Texas, could take care of those deliveries.
“We would haul shorter ranges for overall efficiency,” Bradley said.
Bradley said negotiations are under way with other local milk haulers, but declined to name them. Officials from Clovis-based liquid or dry bulk trucking companies — Reynolds Nationwide, S&B Trucking, and Indian River Transport — either denied any knowledge of such negotiations or offered no comment.
“We’re talking multi-millions to pull this off,” Bradley said of the plan he said has been in the works for a little more than a year. “We thought it was going to be in effect by now, but obviously we are still working on it.”
Bradley said it’s too early to estimate the financial impact of the proposed company but it would mean an increase in the number of jobs, although he is not sure how many.
Roosevelt County officials estimate Milk Transport Services’ annual payroll is $2.3 million. The Portales facility employs about 250 workers with approximately 175 trucks in operation.
Milk Transport Service officials declined comment on the proposal.
Bradley said DFA’s proposed firm would look at locations in the Clovis-Portales area and would use 1,400 to 1,500 trucks.
Portales/Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kim Huffman said Portales would be ideal for DFA expansion.
“That would be perfect,” Huffman said. “We have room for them. We would bend over backwards to add parking spaces or do road improvements. We would certainly be interested in helping them solve whatever problems they may have.”
Clovis Industrial Development Corporation Executive Director Chase Gentry did not respond to phone calls for comment.