As far as North American bulk chemicals carriers go, Quality Distribution is the bulkiest. Through subsidiary Quality Carriers, Inc. (QCI), the company operates the largest chemical bulk tank truck network running through the US, Canada, and Mexico. It transports both liquid and dry bulk chemicals (including plastics) and provides logistics services through about 30 independent affiliates with 90 trucking terminals and three company-operated trucking terminals. Quality Distribution is also the largest provider of intermodal tank container and depot services in North America through subsidiary Boasso America. Key customers include BASF, Dow, DuPont, Exxon Mobil, Procter & Gamble, and PPG Industries.
Quality Distribution provides services to most of the top 100 chemical producers with US operations, including FORTUNE 500 companies and those that engage in chemical processing. Its customers' end markets include refining, water treatment, power generation, agriculture, and printing.
Newer members of the Quality Distribution family include Quality Transload and Quality Terminals, which specialize in railcar and stationary tank transfer and storage, warehousing, packaging, and distribution of bulk liquid and dry commodities.
In late 2010 Quality Distribution realigned and renamed its business segments to better reflect its operations. Its Trucking segment was renamed Logistics and its Container Services segment was renamed Intermodal. Logistics primarily consists of truckload transportation of bulk chemicals and equipment rentals, while Intermodal refers to Boasso's intermodal ISO (International Organization of Standardization) tank container transportation and depot services. Quality Distribution's Logistics segment holds an estimated 14% market share of the highly fragmented chemical and food-grade bulk transport market. Boasso is believed to be the market leader in intermodal ISO tank container transportation, a growing sector within liquid bulk chemical transportation.
In tandem with the restructuring of its business segments, Quality Distribution converted to an affiliate-based "asset light" business model in order to cut down on future capital investment costs. From 2008 to 2010 it eliminated some of its non-driver workforce and consolidated and closed underperforming company terminals. Today, it relies on a national network of independent affiliates that are responsible for their own capital costs and operating expenses, including purchasing and maintaining their own tractors. In return, they receive a fixed percentage of linehaul revenues, and Quality Distribution provides them with back office, sales, and technology support, insurance, and regulatory compliance oversight. Quality Distribution also owns or leases a fleet of about 4,600 trailers that it can rent out to affiliates in order to generate a stable source of lease income. In this way the company is able to keep its cash flow stable and increase its return on capital. It continues to add new affiliates to grow its network, such as it did in 2010 when it added F.T. Silfies, a dry bulk carrier primarily serving the East Coast market.
Quality Distribution is also looking to expand beyond its core chemical market. In 2010 it began marketing transportation services to the frac shale natural gas and oil drilling industry, which is growing at a faster rate than the chemical market. This energy market is attractive particularly because it is currently served by mostly small carriers with few resources. In 2011 Quality Distribution began hauling fresh water to drill sites for two customers in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania and is in contract discussions to provide services to other customers as well. In mid-2012, the company also purchased Wylie Bice Trucking, a transportation services firm hauling oil and water for energy customers in the Bakken shale region in North Dakota. The company also acquired RM Resources, which operates five salt water injection wells that Bice uses for disposing flowback and production water. Quality Distribution expects this market to be a significant contributor to its future revenue growth.
Affiliates of investment firm Apollo Advisors are Quality Distribution's largest shareholder and own approximately one-third of its outstanding common stock. – less