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Longtime Wilmington Firm Transporting Into The Future With New Owner

By Cece Nunn, posted Oct 13, 2022
Workers load boxes at MCO Transport Inc. in 2018. The Wilmington-based company was recently purchased by supply chain solutions firm NFI. (File photo)

A Wilmington-based transportation and warehousing company is under new ownership.

Third-party logistics firm NFI, headquartered in Camden, New Jersey, recently bought MCO Transport Inc. for an undisclosed amount, according to an announcement this week. 

Established in 1976 and led by Danny McComas (pictured below), MCO Transport brings 160 employees into NFI's fold.

According to a news release, the addition of MCO Transport to the supply chain solutions company "enhances NFI’s network in the Southeast and enhances the offering to new and existing customers."

MCO Transport's Laurie King is now NFI's senior director of drayage operations, and McComas, the CEO of MCO, plans to retire, King said. In addition to his role at MCO Transport, McComas previously represented New Hanover County and served nine terms in the N.C. House of Representatives.

King, who is also McComas's daughter, said the sale to NFI made sense and represented a good opportunity for the Wilmington firm.

"The whole organization, all of the staff, all of the drivers are also being absorbed into NFI. It was really a full merger into their organization," she said.

MCO, which operates across four states from Virginia to Georgia, is now a division of NFI, King said. 

"I think it's going to bring us a lot of great opportunities. They've got a lot more enhanced service offerings that we can provide our customers as well as our employees," she said.

Alongside container drayage offerings, MCO "operates a wide array of transportation and warehousing solutions including domestic truckload and specialized commodities between its strategically positioned terminals in the Southeast ports." (Drayage is an industry term generally defined as the short-haul transfer of goods).

King said Thursday that she had nothing new to share about a potential purchase by MCO of property in the New Hanover County-owned Blue Clay Business Park, a prospect that was removed from a New Hanover County Board of Commissioners' agenda in August. According to a New Hanover County deed and tax records, the sale price of MCO's property at 3301 U.S. 421 North to NFI, along with another small piece of unused land, was $1 million.

New Hanover County spokeswoman Jessica Loeper said Thursday that the county doesn't have an update on the potential purchase at this time, and efforts to reach a representative of NFI to ask about the property were not immediately successful.

Sid Brown, CEO of NFI, said in the release that he sees MCO as being important to his company's future growth.

“When we look at an acquisition we look at three things: their people, culture and if the expansion brings value to our customers,” Brown said in the release. “With the MCO acquisition, we are getting exactly that. We are excited to welcome the MCO team to the NFI family and know they will play a key role in the future success of NFI. The acquisition also allows us to bring value to our customers by expanding our presence in the Southeast during a time when our customers are looking to diversify their port strategy."

McComas said in the release, "Throughout this process, our team wanted to ensure we found a buyer that would create opportunities for our employees and our customers. It is a culture that matched what MCO has grown to expect. NFI is a great fit for MCO employees because of our similar cultures — they are a family-owned business, dedicated to their employees’ growth, and have a deep commitment to their customers.”

Since its acquisition of California Cartage Company in 2017, according to the release, "NFI has become a leader in the port drayage space, providing capacity to its customers through most major port terminals in the United States and Canada." 

In 2021, NFI "inked a deal with the Georgia Ports Authority to operate a new transload and cross-docking facility in Savannah, GA, opening in 2023," the release stated. "With the acquisition, NFI adds to its additional facility openings in Norfolk, VA, Suffolk, VA, and Houston, TX, also slated to go live through the end of 2023."

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