St. Louis transportation company acquires bulk of Elfrink's business

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

CRH Transportation has acquired a portion of the business of Elfrink Transportation, a Cape Girardeau trucking company that went out of business Dec. 17.

Bob Lewis, owner of Columbia, S.C.-based Gulfstream Express, which recently purchased majority ownership in Elfrink, said some of Elfrink's former employees will have a job with the company. CRH president Gary Mantei was unavailable for comment on how many employees would be kept or the location of the Cape Girardeau hub, although CRH's website listed Elfrink's former location at 1329 Southern Expressway as its terminal.

Owen Elfrink, who started the company in 1994, said he will not work for CRH and did not know how many employees from Elfrink would work at the terminal.

"I've made a commitment to stay with Elfrink and help resolve these issues for the best interest of all the creditors," he wrote in an e-mail.

Lewis said his company lost a considerable amount of its investment. He said the trucking business endured a financially difficult November, when he said Elfrink's capital went from $840,000 to $460,000.

Lewis said all employees will be paid.

Traffic Topics magazine reported that truck tonnage fell 1.8 percent in November compared to the same month in 2007, confirming its statement that "the freight outlook remains bleak."

"Freight volumes were down substantially before any seasonality [was] taken out of the data," ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in the article, adding that he expects the trend to continue through June.

"I'm very sensitive to the losses," Lewis said. "But my company I had never had such a pleasant experience as the employees at Elfrink. It's a shame they were caught by the economy."

CRH started in 1971, when founder Bob Heyl began a delivery service in St. Louis using one truck. The company has expanded to a transportation service with more than 120 drivers making deliveries throughout the Midwest.

In addition to Cape Girardeau and St. Louis, the company's other terminals in Missouri are in Jefferson City, Kansas City, St. Joseph and Springfield. CRH also operates a hub in Normal, Ill.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

388-3628

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