Fastfrate wades into US cross-border trucking after Bestway acquisition

Canadian transportation and logistics firm Fastfrate Group has acquired small cross-border carrier Bestway in the first step in an ambitious plan to expand its reach in the United States. Fastfrate, based in a suburb of Toronto, quietly purchased Bestway on August 1. In terms of trucks, the deal is small, adding around 50 power units to Fastfrate's 1,500 units across Canada. 

But for Fastfrate, a company that primarily provides long-haul intermodal trucking services within Canada, Bestway provides a platform to build out a cross-border less-than-truckload (LTL) business. "The U.S. marketplace - that's where the best freight comes from," Fastfrate Group CEO Manny Calandrino told FreightWaves. "We're going to take the Bestway and replicate it across our network." Bestway - consisting of Bestway Cartage and Bestway Global Limited - runs between Ontario and the United States, primarily east of the Mississippi River.

The company has been operating out of Fastfrate's Woodbridge facility since 2019.  Owned by Tepper Holdings, Fastfrate Group's companies cover Canada from coast-to-coast, including its major ports. It also covers the rails via a partnership with Canadian Pacific Railway.

Bestway joins LTL carrier Fastfrate, Canada Drayage (CDI) and asset-based third-party logistics provider Fastgrate Integrated Logistics.

CEO sees bright future in U.S. cross-border freight

Unusual for its size, Fastfrate has largely stayed out of U.S. cross-border trucking, the mainstay of Canada's largest transportation and logistics firms. The company has served the U.S. via a partnership with Alabama-based AAA Cooper Transportation.  Calandrino plans to build out Fastfrate's cross-border network through its existing 17 terminals, establishing north to south hubs across Canada. 

"Our plan is to quadruple Bestway in two years," Calandrino said. Fastfrate did not disclose the price it paid for Bestway. But it likely amounts to a small investment to enter the lucrative U.S. cross-border market during the economic turmoil accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic.

"They're going through a rough patch," Calandrino said. "It's temporary."  Fastfrate's ambitions extend beyond cross-border LTL. The company also hopes to expand into e-commerce and warehousing. 

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