Long load specialty carrier merges with Oregon flatbed company

Leavitt’s Freight Service, a specialty carrier of utility poles and engineered wood products, today announced that it has merged with Central Oregon Truck Company, a member of the Daseke family of flatbed and specialized carriers.

Based in Springfield, Oregon, Leavitt’s Freight operates a fleet of more than 120 trucks. It will continue to operate under its existing name and with its current management team, as part of COTC.

Ron Riddle, CEO of Leavitt’s Freight Service (left) joins Rick Williams, CEO of Central Oregon Truck Company (right) as a member of the Daseke family. (Daseke photo)Ron Riddle, CEO of Leavitt’s Freight Service (left) joins Rick Williams, CEO of Central Oregon Truck Company (right) as a member of the Daseke family. (Daseke photo)

Leavitt’s Freight Service was founded in 1958 by brothers Doug, Dean and Dewey Leavitt. The company said its fleet of 45-to-48-foot trailers is equipped to handle long loads such as utility poles, which can range from 25- to 140-feet in length. For extremely long loads Leavitt’s uses ‘floating’ trailers, some outfitted with a steerable trailer, according to a statement about the merger.

More conventional loads include trusses and engineered wood products for construction projects, plus steel decking. The company moved much of the steel decking for the Amazon buildings in the Seattle area, according to a statement announcing the merger.

“We’re excited to be joining COTC and the Daseke organization,” said Terry Leavitt, co-owner, retired president, and son of one of the founders. “We’ve never been for sale, but we’ve had a lot of phone calls from equity companies. There was never any interest on our end – we had a legacy and a name we hold with pride. But, the business model of COTC and Daseke caught our attention and we were open to listen. And we’re glad we did. They won’t change us; they will only make us better.”

Williams cited one other important bond between the two companies – both have been operated by managers who have themselves been drivers. “Drivers are the core of any trucking operation, and with leadership at Leavitt’s and at COTC having that experience, it differentiates us from others,” he said.

“I’ve always admired what the Leavitt family has put together,” said Rick Williams, CEO of Redmond,Orego-based COTC. “We’re now an even stronger force in our region as we can grow together. We serve customers in 48 states and Canada with a fleet of more than 350 trucks, while Leavitt’s is a dominant niche carrier on the West Coast. We will add to each other’s portfolio while sharing resources. We have our operations in Central Oregon, while Leavitt’s is on the I-5 corridor, including areas of Washington, Oregon, and California. But we both run these lanes. Now, we can utilize each other’s facilities for service, maintenance, and fuel, which will help us cut costs.”

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Both COTC and Leavitt’s Freight Service have been nationally and locally honored for excellence. In 2018 Central Oregon Truck Co. was not only named one of the Best Fleets to Drive For, for the fifth consecutive year, it also won Best Overall in the small carrier category. Leavitt’s was named the Oregon Trucking Association’s Fleet Safety Grand Champion in 2016, while Gene Hullette, who serves as safety manager at Leavitt’s, was named the Safety Professional of the Year.  This year, the company took first place in the OTA’s Fleet Safety Awards — large fleet category.