Big Freight and Kelsey Trail merge; Daseke grows again

The Daseke family of trucking companies just added a new member, another one north of the border.

Big Freight Systems, a Daseke company located in Steinbach, Manitoba, Thursday announced a merger with Kelsey Trail Trucking, which has facilities in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Innisfil, Ontario. Kelsey Trail will become a division of Big Freight and keep operations intact, according to a statement from the companies.

Gary Coleman, president of Big Freight, and Jim Clunie, president of Kelsey Trail Trucking. (Daseke photo)Gary Coleman, president of Big Freight, and Jim Clunie, president of Kelsey Trail Trucking. (Daseke photo)

Combined, the two operations operate nearly 750 tractors and trailers.

“This is a big day for both companies,” said Gary Coleman, president of Big Freight. “While we will operate somewhat autonomously, we will share many resources — there is a lot of synergy between the two companies. Big Freight hauls single flatbed trailers throughout the United States and Canada, while Kelsey Trail is the largest dedicated B-train operator in Canada, with coast-to-coast truckload and LTL service. Kelsey Trail also has a regional B-train operation in Ontario and Quebec.”

Kelsey Trail Trucking operates 80 tractors a mix of late-model Kenworths and Peterbilts. They have a handful of 53-foot trailers, but the mainstay is the company’s 90 sets of 5-axle B-trains (32-foot lead trailers, and 28-foot pups). The company’s long-haul fleet of nearly 50 tractors goes all over Canada (backhauling much of the cedar that comes out of British Columbia). It has also developed a regional fleet making deliveries from the Toronto area up to the northern area of the province, and into Quebec.

“We’re in our 38th year, while Big Freight is celebrating its 70th year,” said Jim Clunie, president of Kelsey Trail Trucking. “Our values, passion for the industry and our penchant for customer service are very much alike. I’ve had others knock on our doors, but have never been inclined to sell or merge. We’ve been very successful. But, the opportunity with Big Freight was different, and what our two companies can do together is very exciting. What’s more, Big Freight is a part of Daseke, which represents the largest asset-based flatbed operation in North America. This combination led us to the merger.”

Daseke now has more than 5,500 tractors, more than 11,500 flatbed and specialized trailers, and a million-plus square foot of industrial warehousing space.