Dubuque trucking company to become 2nd-largest refrigerated carrier with acquisition

Hirschbach Motor Lines is set to become the second-biggest refrigerated carrier in the country with the acquisition of an Oklahoma business.

The Dubuque-based trucking company is acquiring John Christner Trucking, with the transaction set to close in April, a press release states.

The acquisition will move Hirschbach from the sixth-largest to the second-largest refrigerated carrier in the nation, based on 2021 rankings from Transport Topics.

Once complete, the combined revenues of the companies will be more than $1 billion, with the organization operating more than 3,000 trucks and 5,000 trailers.

Hirschbach CEO Brad Pinchuk said the two organizations fit together like “puzzle pieces.” Hirschbach operates largely east of the Rocky Mountains, while John Christner Trucking covers much of the southern part of the country.

“This really fills in the map,” Pinchuk said.

Pinchuk said that JCT’s logistics operation is another benefit to Hirschbach.

This is the second recent acquisition Hirschbach has announced. The company acquired Lessors Inc. last year.

“We had a lot of growing over the years, growing organically,” Pinchuk said. “Lessors was really the first acquisition we did. It went very, very well, and we decided to continue to look for other opportunities with other companies.”

Pinchuk said JCT and Hirschbach complement one another.

“We’ll operate this company as a separate company,” Pinchuk said. “It will be owned by Hirschbach, but they will operate in the marketplace as two separate companies.”

John Christner Trucking was started by John Christner in 1986, with his sons Danny and Darryl Christner eventually joining the company. John and Darryl Christner will retire, but Danny Christner will serve as JCT’s president under Hirschbach’s acquisition.

“They’re both very successful companies individually,” Pinchuk said. “They both have great reputations and brand recognition and loyalty in the marketplace.”

Pinchuk said the two companies will share and learn from each other.

Danny Christner said in the release that JCT’s ability to retain its identity and autonomy was an important part of the deal.

“On behalf of myself and the Christner family, we are extremely excited and grateful to be partnering with Brad Pinchuk and the Hirschbach team,” he said in the release.

Rick Dickinson, president of Greater Dubuque Development Corp., said news of the acquisition was exciting. Dickinson said Hirschbach is a “great corporate citizen.”

“They’re a very large employer in our market but also thought leaders in the trucking industry,” he said. “We’re thrilled they announced this expansion and acquisition.”