Hale selling trucking company

Evans Delivery of Pa. is buyer

status of 200 employees unclear

October 10, 2002|By Paul Adams | Paul Adams,SUN STAFF

Edwin F. Hale Sr. is selling the trucking company that served as the foundation for his growing banking and real estate holdings, and earned him a reputation as one of Baltimore's most prominent entrepreneurs.

Hale Intermodal Trucking Co., which mostly transports cargo containers and machinery from Baltimore and other East Coast ports, will be taken over by Pottsville, Pa.-based Evans Delivery Co. Inc., an old-line transportation company that operates more than 500 tractors at terminals on the East Coast, including Maryland. The sale is expected to close by month's end.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed, and it was unclear yesterday whether any of Hale's 200 employees would lose their jobs in the transfer. Albert J. Evans Jr., owner of Evans Delivery, was traveling and unavailable for comment yesterday.

Hale is cutting ties with the transportation business to focus on running First Mariner Bancorp, which has 22 branches in Maryland and is approaching $1 billion in assets.

"I wake up now and it's a very strange feeling," said Hale, who began Hale Transport in 1975 after leaving his job at ATCO Trailer Rentals. "The trucking company is the thing that everything I've ever done came from."

Hale hasn't played an active role in managing Hale Intermodal since joining Baltimore Bancorp as chairman in 1990. After that bank was sold to First Fidelity Bancorp of Lawrenceville, N.J., in 1994, Hale announced plans to buy a controlling interest in a small thrift holding company, MarylandsBank Corp., and turn it into a commercial bank.

First Mariner has gone from a thrift with $25 million in assets to a fast-growing commercial bank with $624 million in deposits. The bank posted earnings of $908,000 for the second quarter of this year, its highest quarterly earnings ever. "It just requires all of my time," said Hale, who is chairman and chief executive of the bank.

Hale Transport has been shrinking in recent years as Hale has increasingly devoted attention to property development and finance. In addition to running the bank, Hale is spearheading the $100 million Canton Crossing complex, a commercial and residential development at Boston and Clinton streets. He has proposed developing a new terminal for cruise ships as part of the project.

Hale, owner of the Baltimore Blast indoor soccer team, is also negotiating with the city for naming rights to the Baltimore Arena, which would become First Mariner Arena under the deal.

Hale is leaving the transportation business at a difficult time for the trucking industry. Rising costs, a sluggish economy and intense competition have fueled a round of consolidation in the business. In an industry in which size is vital, Hale Transport was not poised to grow.

"You either get bigger or ... if you stand still, somebody is going to grow over the top of you," Hale said. "We just haven't grown, and [Evans] is growing. That's what he'd like to do, is become the dominant carrier on the East Coast."

Evans' purchase of Hale Transport will give it a bigger foothold in the Maryland market, making it among the top 10 trucking companies operating in the port, port officials and industry experts said.

"I think not having an Ed Hale involved in the maritime business community is a loss to the business community," said James J. White, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration.

But White was encouraged by Hale's suggestion that Evans Delivery plans to increase its business in Maryland.

"They are going to be a major player here," White said.

Evans was founded in 1939 by Albert L. Evans Sr., who started with two trucks handling "less-than-load" freight in the Pottsville area. The company grew to encompass much of the Northeast, branching into the intermodal trucking business at the port of Philadelphia in 1973.

That side of the business has grown to include major East Coast ports. In addition to Evans Delivery, the company owns several other companies, including West Motor Freight, a regional full-truckload and flatbed carrier; All Points Transport, a full-service intermodal trucking company; and DM Transportation Management Services, a third-party logistics company.

Evans' expansion is another example of the consolidation in the industry, trucking experts said.

"The industry, especially the intermodal end of it, has a lot of turnover in it," said Walt Thompson, president and chief executive of the Maryland Motor Truck Association, an industry trade group.

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