MODE Transportation acquires Chattanooga freight brokerage firm

Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.
·3 min read

Mar. 2—One of Chattanooga's fastest growing freight brokerage companies has a new owner.

MODE Transportation, a private third-party logistics provider based in Dallas, has acquired Avenger Logistics in Chattanooga from company founder Don Godsey, the former owner of Gold Bond Inc., who started Avenger in 2015.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed, but MODE Global said buying Avenger Logistics will help broaden its product mix, especially in the flatbed trucking market. With the purchase, MODE Global projects it will facilitate more than 1.5 million customer shipments a year and generate over $2 billion of annual revenue.

"Avenger's extensive knowledge in the flatbed, high-wide-and heavy, dimensional, and specialized trucking market coupled with their talent is a perfect fit to broaden our capabilities," MODE's CEO and President Lance Malesh said in an announcement of the purchase. "Avenger's strong track record of growth and unique product and service offerings were key reasons for the acquisition, but more importantly, the similar cultures allowed for a quick integration of the Avenger business model into the MODE platform."

Avenger grew its annual revenues to more than $80 million last year, placing the freight brokerage firm as No. 631 on the INC 5000 list of the fastest-growing businesses.

"Last year was certainly a challenge initially converting everyone to remote work and re-examining our business," said Jason Roberts, who joined Avenger four years ago and will remain as its president along with serving as a senior vice president for MODE Transportation. "But fortunately, in the second half of the year we really just took off and we had a series of record-breaking months."

Roberts said Avenger will keep operating under its name with its nearly 100 employees at its headquarters in Chattanooga and satellite office in Minneapolis. Under MODE's ownership, Avenger will be able to offer a broader range of shipping capabilities, including less-than-truckload, rail intermodal, air, ocean, parcel freight and supply chain.

Robert said the company also will leverage its increased scale to invest in more technology and innovation for the benefit of its agent, shipper and carrier communities.

MODE was founded in 1989 and was acquired by HUB Group in 2011 where it operated for seven years before being spun off to the private equity firm York Capital Management. In November 2019, MODE and agent-based freight brokerage SunTeckTTS merged and the combined company has annual revenues topping $2 billion.

MODE has a largely agent-based freight brokerage network of about 200 brokers in relatively decentralized offices, Avenger is a traditional, centralized brokerage firm and had its brokers return to its more than 23,000-square-foot office last year.

"The Avenger team is excited to have the resources and support of MODE to allow us to expand further in offering our customers and carriers the best solutions and greatest value for solving complex shipping challenges," Roberts said.

Avenger contracted with Capstone Headwaters in 2019 to find a buyer for the company and Avenger was within weeks of closing an earlier sale of the business when to coronavirus hit the area last year. The sale to MODE was ultimately completed last week and Roberts said the initial response from Avenger clients and employees has been favorable.

Roberts will continue to lead Avenger as company president and will also help MODE's enterprise operations group.

Avenger Logistics is among more than a half dozen freight brokers which have set up shops in the past decade in Chattanooga, which FreightWaves President Craig Fuller has dubbed as America's "freight alley." Collectively, freight brokers such as Coyote Logistics, Trident Logistics, LYNC Logistics, Taimen Transport, FitzMark, Kenco Transportation Management and other related firms have more than 500 workers and handle billions of dollars of truck and van shipments a year.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.