Merger combines family-owned logistics and grain firms

A new energy and ag business will be established through the combination of Savage and Bartlett, which is also considering 'strategic alternatives' for its existing 100,000 head of cattle.

Savage Companies, a privately held supply-chain services provider headquartered in Salt Lake City, has merged with family-owned Bartlett and Company, a Kansas City-based grain and milling firm.

Financial terms were undisclosed.

“The new venture will be a leading single-source provider of a broad range of supply-chain and industrial services enabling Savage and Bartlett customers and partners to feed the world, power our lives and sustain the plant,” the companies wrote.

Founded in 1946, Savage Companies provides rail, truck, and marine transportation logistics in addition to materials handling and other industrial and environmental services for oil refineries, power generation facilities and other customers. Savage employs more than 4,000 people at facilities in the US, Canada and Saudi Arabia.

Its existing food and agriculture business involves trans-loading food products in the US Northeast as well as providing transportation and materials-handling services for sulphur and ammonia used in the production of fertilizers and crop nutrients.

Bartlett and Company specializes in the acquisition, storage, transportation, processing and merchandising of grain in addition to feed manufacturing and cattle feeding. Founded in 1907, it maintains facilities in 11 US states, including feedlots in Texas and Kansas used to feed its 100,000 head of cattle.

The cattle business is not part of the merger and Bartlett said it is exploring strategic alternatives for the unit.

Customers for Bartlett’s flour include bakeries, distribution centers and restaurants. The company describes itself as being a leading exporter of US grain to Mexico. In 2016, Forbes ranked Bartlett as the 221st largest privately owned company in the US, estimating its annual revenue at $2 billion.

Jeff Hymas, a communications director at Savage, told Agri Investor that the two companies will continue to serve customers under their existing names as the two also pursue opportunities to grow together. Specifically, Hymas said that Savage would seek to build upon Bartlett’s established presence in Mexico and Savage’s business in Canada as it looks to expand its exposure to agriculture.

The merger was brought about by Savage’s desire to diversify into an agricultural market they hope will be a source of future growth for the company, according to Hymas. He declined to state whether Bartlett had attracted interest from other private investors, adding that the fact both companies are longstanding, family-owned enterprises also helped make for a good cultural fit.

“Whereas a lot of these other mergers in agriculture business have been primarily for the purposes of costs savings or synergies among similar types of companies, this merger will probably take many in that industry by surprise because Savage is such a different merger partner getting into this business.”