C. H. Robinson Worldwide
|Traded as||NASDAQ: CHRW
S&P 500 Component
Dow Jones Transportation Average component
|Founded||Grand Forks, North Dakota (1905)|
|Headquarters||Eden Prairie, Minnesota, U.S.|
(Chairman and CEO)
Number of employees
|10,929 (December 2012)|
C.H. Robinson is a Fortune 500 company offering third-party logistics. The company offers logistics and supply chain services such as freight transportation, transportation management, brokerage, and warehousing. It offers logistics solutions by truckload, less than truckload, intermodal, ocean, and air freight transportation.
The company is headquartered in Eden Prairie, MN with 285 offices in Europe, Asia, South America, and Australia. The company has contractual relationships with over 50,000 transportation companies, including motor carriers, railroads, air freight, and ocean carriers. C. H. Robinson also engages in buying, selling, and marketing fresh produce. It offers its fresh produce to grocery retailers, restaurants, produce wholesalers, and foodservice distributors through a network of independent produce growers and suppliers.
Founded in 1905, C.H. Robinson is a Fortune 500 company and is consistently ranked by Fortune and CNN as one of the world’s Most Admired Companies in Trucking, Transportation, Logistics. From 2010-2013, C.H. Robinson was ranked the top 3PL firm by Inbound Logistics. In 2012, the firm was the most profitable tier-one 3PL and regularly achieved net income margins greater than 20%. It posted $11.4 billion in net revenue that year. The company was named the No. 1 Large Company in the 2013 Best Places to Work ranking by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
It has been on the Fortune 500 list every year since 2002. As of 2013, the company worked with over 56,000 transportation providers across the world—the majority of them contracted motor carriers.
C.H. Robinson handled 11.5 million shipments and worked with more than 42,000 customers in 2012. C.H. Robinson's transportation of goods accounts for about 88% of its gross net revenues with the remainder coming from sourcing and marketing fresh produce. That year, the company sold its T-Chek Service Unit, which provides payment management services to the trucking industry, for $302.5 million. The company also acquired Phoenix International and Apreo Logistics S.A. in 2012.
The company launched a technology enabled platform called Navisphere in 2012. The service provides end-to-end visibility, consistent business processes, and strategy-driven business intelligence for C.H. Robinson employees, customers, and service providers to manage supply chain logistics, transportation, and sourcing activities on a global scale.
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Origins and early history
In the early 1900s, Charles Henry Robinson owned a small wholesale brokerage house that provided produce throughout North Dakota and Minnesota. He partnered with the Nash Finch brothers in April 11, 1905 and became the company’s first president. Nash Finch Company was the leading wholesaler in the region, owning and operating grocery stores. The partnership dissolved by 1913 and the Nash brothers retaining control of the company.
The C.H. Robinson subsidiary played a procurement role as the Nash Finch Company rapidly expanded in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Texas. In the 1940s, the FTC found Nash Finch Company to have a price advantage under the Robinson-Patman Act of 1936 and decided to split C.H. Robinson Co. into two companies. The first, C.H. Robinson Co., was formed by the offices that sold produce to Nash Finch’s warehouses and ownership was retained by Robinson employees. The second company, C.H. Robinson Inc., was still owned by Nash Finch.
Expansion into logistics and trucking
C.H. Robinson’s entry into the trucking business came after the Federal Highway Act of 1956 expanded interstate commerce and the roadways of America. C.H. Robinson and other shippers used to rely on trains to transport goods. In 1968, the firm entered the regulated truck business as a contract carrier named Meat Packers Express based out of Omaha, Nebraska. Robco Transportation Inc. was formed by merging Meat Packers Express with additional carriers three years later and was sold in 1986.
In the mid-1960s, C.H. Robinson Co. and C.H. Robinson, Inc., consolidated their operations under the name C.H. Robinson Co.. Nash Finch still held a stake of approximately 25 percent in the brokerage company, with Robinson employees owning the remainder. By 1976, the Nash Finch shares had been bought out and the company was 100% employee owned. Under new leadership, C.H. Robinson focused on using emerging technology to its advantage and adopted IBM mainframe technology in 1979.
The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 deregulated transportation industries in America and increased competition for logistics providers and shippers. In addition to distributing food products, C.H. Robinson created a contract carrier program, expanded its freight contract operations, and established itself as a middleman sourcing operation for virtually all shippable goods. The company’s average annual growth, measured by truckloads, doubled and C.H. Robinson posted more than $700 million in sale within 5 years. 40% was generated by truck brokerage, with the rest of the revenue coming from produce sales.
In the years to come, C.H. Robinson expanded its international logistics operations and opened its Monterrey, Mexico office in 1989. It acquired C.S. Greene International in 1992 and added international freight forwarding, air freight operations and refrigerated containers. In 1993, C.H. Robinson bought a 30% stake in Transeco, a major French motor carrier, and eventually bought the entire company. C.H. Robinson enhanced its operations by purchasing companies including Daystar International, a distributor of fruit juice, and FoodSource. It also became an exclusive provider of services to brands like Frito Lay, Tropicana, Motts, and Welches. In 1995, C.H. Robinson formed C.H. Robinson Logistics, a division that provided end-to-end logistical services.
The company renamed itself C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. in 1997 and had an IPO that raised $190 million for the 101 employees who sold their shares. The initial market value totaled $743 million and the firm began trading on NASDAQ under the symbol CHRW. Gross revenues for 1997 reached $1.79 billion, while net revenues amounted to $206 million, a 15.1 percent increase over the previous year.
The company continued expanding logistical services by purchasing regional logistics firms like the Chicago-based American Backhaulers Inc for $136 million in 1999 and the Minnesota-based Trans-Consolidated Inc. Other acquisitions include Preferred Translocation Systems, the Argentina-based Comexter Group, the Western European Norminter, and New York-based Vertex Transportation Inc. In 2002, C.H. Robinson bought Smith Terminal International Services—one of the largest third party logistics providers in Florida. In the 2000s, it has bought out multiple firms including the Germany based international freight logistics provider Frank M. Viet GmbH Internationale Spedition, Phoenix, Dalian Decheng Shipping Agency Co., FoodSource Procurement LLC, Apreo Logistics S.A., and other major European, Indian, Chinese, and North American logistics providers.
In 2012, C.H Robinson purchased Phoenix International for $635 million and doubled its ocean freight capacity. The company also acquired the Polish shipping firm Apreo Logisitics S.A. Apreo Logistics provides trucking, air and ocean shipping services throughout Europe.
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