Trailer Bridge

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Trailer-Bridge, Inc.
Type Public (NASDAQTRBR)
Industry Transportation
Founded 1991
Headquarters Jacksonville, Florida, USA
Key people William G. Gotimer Jr., Co-CEO
Mark A. Tanner, Co-CEO & CFO
Products freight forwarding
Revenue $118.2 million (2010)[1]

Trailer Bridge Inc. is a freight service company headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, that was the first company to provide what its website describes as a "unique combination of over-the road and over-the-water transportation".[2] This relates to moving freight in 53' containers between the mainland U.S. and Puerto Rico in an integrated truck/lower cost tug/barge system. It is the only marine company that primarily utilizes larger 53' containers (which have some 60% more inside cubic space than a typical 40' marine container) which has been the standard equipment used to move freight domestically on the road and rail for over 15 years.[2]


Trailer Bridge was founded in 1991 by Malcom McLean, who invented containerization when he formed Sea-Land Service in 1960. McLean had previously started McLean Trucking Company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which he built into one of the largest trucking companies in the United States. He saw the need for a service that could, in the words of the company, provide "true single-carrier responsibility across the United States and on to Puerto Rico".[2] This was his last endeavor before his health failed and he died in 2001. The McLean family owned slightly less than half interest in the company when John D. McCown took over as Chairman and CEO and ran the business until he stepped down in December, 2008. Ralph Heim was the acting CEO until Ivy Barton Suter was named on August 27, 2009.[3]


Suter's education included a BS in Mathematics from the University of Delaware, an MBA from the Harvard Business School and graduation from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. She brought over 20 years of business experience to the company, the last three as a managing director at Alvarez & Marsal.[4]

She was unable to turn around the company's bottom line. Net income in the 3rd quarter of 2010 was $6,900, but the company lost $2.9 million in the 4th quarter. The combined loss in the first half of 2011 was $14 million, so she left the company in October, 2011.[5]


Trailers destined for Puerto Rico are picked up almost anywhere in the continental US and driven to Jacksonville, Florida, where they are loaded onto a barge for the five-day trip to San Juan. In 2007, the company added the Dominican Republic as a shipping destination and is, according to The Jacksonville Business Journal, the only service "between the U.S. and the Dominican Republic using U.S.-flagged ships."[6] The company expects to service Cuba when the US permits it.

The barges owned by Trailer Bridge have no propulsion system; instead, they rely on ocean-going tugboats supplied by other companies to tow the vessels to and from their destinations.

The company leases 26.5 acres (107,000 m2) of land at the southwest tip of Blount Island from the Jacksonville Port Authority where they dock, load and unload their barges.[7]

Public company[edit]

The company went public in 1997. According to Wright Investors’ Service, at the end of 2007, the company operated a fleet of 114 tractors, 241 high-cube trailers, 3,882 - 53' high cube containers and 3,177 - 53' chassis to transport truckload freight. They also owned two 736' triple-deck, Roll-on/roll-off (RORO) ocean-going barges and three 403' Triplestack Box Carriers.[8] Their stock reached an all-time high of $14.75 in 2007.[9]


Trailer Bridge filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in November 2011. The company's attorney, Gardner Davis, stated that $82.5 million in bonds came due and "it was impossible to refinance that debt in the current credit market".[9] In March 2012, the bankruptcy judge approved the agreement between the company and its creditors which calls for noteholders to receive $65 million in new notes and a 91% ownership of the company. Service was not interrupted during the four months of bankruptcy, and no employees lost their jobs. SEACOR Holdings, with assets in marine and aviation businesses, held the largest share of corporate bonds, and became the company's largest shareholder.[9]


Many of Trailer Bridge's customers are blue chip companies. New cars and trucks are a major segment of their cargo, and vehicles are shipped for Ford, DaimlerChrysler and General Motors. Several major retail chains use Trailer Bridge to ship containers to their stores, including K-Mart, JC Penney, Home Depot, Walgreens and Toys 'R' Us. Costco was added as a customer in 2008. Other products are shipped to Puerto Rican distribution centers by major manufacturers Georgia-Pacific, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Whirlpool and SC Johnson.[1]


  1. ^ a b Wright Investor's Service: Company Profile Snapshot-Trailer Bridge, Inc.
  2. ^ a b c Company profile
  3. ^ Basch, Mark: [1] Florida Times-Union, August 27, 2009, "Trailer Bridge names new CEO"
  4. ^ [2] News Blaze, August 27, 2009, "Trailer Bridge Appoints Ivy Barton Suter as Chief Executive Officer"
  5. ^ Bull, Roger (December 10, 2011). "Jacksonville-based Trailer Bridge falls on hard times, but a CEO looks for a turn-around". Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Jacksonville Business Journal: August 13, 2007-Trailer Bridge starts Dominican service
  7. ^ 1000%27&Queryzoom=Yes "5090 WILLIAM MILLS ST" Duval County Property Appraiser, GIS Map
  8. ^ YAHOO Finance: Company Profile-Trailer Bridge, Inc.
  9. ^ a b c Dixon, Drew (March 16, 2012). "Jacksonville shipping company Trailer Bridge emerges from bankruptcy". Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 16 March 2012.