As many companies are struggling, one firm, Merchants Fleet, has good news. The Hooksett fleet management firm has landed a $50 million investment in growth financing from Bain Capital, a global investment firm.
The deal was months in the making. In October, Merchants executives spent a week in New York meeting with 13 prospective investors and landing 10 offers, says Brendan P. Keegan, CEO of Merchants Fleet (pictured). After analyzing the offers, Merchants narrowed its prospect list, ultimately sealing the deal with Bain Capital despite the COVID-19 crisis hitting.
This investment marks the next step in Merchant Fleet’s strategic plan that began two years ago. “In the last two years, we doubled the size of Merchants,” Keegan says, adding the value of its leased assets grew from $500 million to over $1 billion.
Keegan says Merchants required equity to keep growing as it expects to triple assets to $3 billion by 2024. That growth comes from launching four new businesses in the past two years and Merchants has plans to launch four to five more in the next five years. Among the new businesses is a truck rental program and a last mile fleet program for home delivery vehicles, which had seen “tremendous growth,” he says, due to the growth in ecommerce. Merchants now manages last mile fleets for more than 400 companies.
But don’t think of Merchants as purely transportation. “More and more, we’re becoming a technology company,” Keegan says, with platforms that track vehicle locations, flag vehicles in need of maintenance, and record driver information. “We’re able to understand clients’ fleets to lower the cost of their ownership,” Keegan adds.
Merchants has just over 500 employees in three main locations: Merchants Auto in Hooksett, Merchants Fleet headquarters in Hooksett and Merchants Innovation Center in Chicago. The majority are in NH with about 50 in Chicago.
That’s not to say Merchants is immune to the current economic downturn. Sales at Merchants Auto dropped 50%, requiring furloughs and shifting some employees to jobs in the last mile program, which continues to grow. It has about a dozen essential employees who still work at the headquarters and auto garage with the remaining employees working from home.
While recent events required adjustments to the strategic plan, Keegan anticipates the company will still be able to achieve
For more information, visit merchantsfleet.com.