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VOL. 128 | NO. 39 | Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dunavant Grows Logistics, Transportation Divisions

By Michael Waddell

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Dunavant Enterprises Inc. continues its transformation into a purely third-party logistics and asset-based transportation firm.

Through its Dunavant Transportation Group and Dunavant Logistics Group, the company is focused on four main pillars – global, freight, distribution and consulting.

“Our goal is to be a significant player in the mid-market logistics area,” said Richard McDuffie, Dunavant’s chief operating officer. “We are growing our business both organically and through acquisitions, and we will continue to grow both sides, the non-asset and asset-light sides, not only in Memphis but also in Dallas, Houston, Charlotte, N.C., and other locations where we have terminals today.”

Dunavant, founded in 1928 and based in Memphis, gained more than 50 years of experience in logistics and supply chain management as one of the largest global commodities distributors in the world. The company sold its cotton interests to Louis Dreyfus in 2010.

“Even after we got out of the cotton business, we continued to manage and move our product for other clients in cotton all over the world, and we started to expand our logistics operation and evolved into a global third-party logistics company,” McDuffie said.

Dunavant retained its real estate development and capital management divisions, as well as its truck brokerage group, which it has had since as far back as 1970.

“Our goal is to be a significant player in the mid-market logistics area.”

–Richard McDuffie
Chief operating officer, Dunavant Enterprises Inc.

In early 2011, Dunavant Transportation decided to enter the asset-light side of the trucking business, so it acquired two companies – Trans Gulf Transportation and Sea Lane Express – to gain a much larger footprint throughout the Southeast.

“We’re moving primarily ocean drayage and domestic drayage, and it complements the business we do on the freight forwarding side,” said McDuffie, who says the company is open to the idea of further acquisitions, but only if they are a strategic fit.

The company now has 10 truck terminals in the Southeast and Southwest, including Norfolk, Va.; Wilmington, N.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga.; Atlanta; Dallas; Houston; Nashville and Memphis; as well as sales offices in cities like Cincinnati.

Despite the expanding footprint, Dunavant is proud of its Memphis roots.

“Memphis is a great city to have a global logistics headquarters,” McDuffie said. “It’s a logical choice for a logistics hub, with all five railroads running through the area, one of the busiest cargo airports in the world and a major thoroughfare for traffic. You can reach 80 percent of the region’s population by truck in a day to a day and a half.”

Services offered by the company include container drayage, crossdocking, transloading, chassis leasing and other yard services. Although its client list is confidential, major sectors that Dunavant is currently involved with are agricultural commodities, retail, paper, chemicals and food products.

Earlier this month Dunavant announced several new hires within its two divisions.

“We’re really pleased with all our recent new hires,” McDuffie said. “The team-building and systems updates that are under way at all our locations throughout the Eastern Seaboard, the South, and Texas continue to evolve and take our execution to the next level.”

In Memphis, both Ernest Moreno and Phoebe Neal joined Dunavant Logistics Group as Logistics Service managers. In Charlotte, Chris Patton and Mike Rodnick joined Dunavant Sea Lane Express, Patton joined as terminal manager and Rodnick joined as safety and recruiting manager.

Dunavant Trans Gulf Transportation also welcomed two new staff members, both at its Houston location. Jennifer Michna joined the company as manager of process development, and Scott Donnow was hired as maintenance and repair manager.

Further growth and more local jobs are likely.

“Because we are headquartered in Memphis,” McDuffie said, “there should be a benefit to expansion here.”

PROPERTY SALES 81 201 16,108
MORTGAGES 40 104 10,026
BUILDING PERMITS 130 336 38,272
BANKRUPTCIES 28 56 7,528