Gareth Manderson, general manager BC Works, and Bandstra’s Zach Runions and Steve Collins. Photo supplied

Gareth Manderson, general manager BC Works, and Bandstra’s Zach Runions and Steve Collins. Photo supplied

Smithers family-owned business institution sold to publicly-traded company

Bandstra Transportation and Babine Trucking acquired by Mullen Group

A family-owned Smithers business institution is now in the hands of a company from Alberta.

Mullen Group announced April 16 it had acquired the Bandstra Group of Companies.

Bandstra was founded in 1955 as Smithers Transport by John Bandstra Sr. shortly after he immigrated from Holland.

“Starting with two trucks and operating under the name Smithers Transport, John and two others began to haul groceries and general freight between Prince Rupert and Smithers,” a corporate history on the Bandstra website recounts. “Goods arrived in the Prince Rupert port by ships originating in Vancouver. Today the 350 km highway between these locations is a 4-hour drive, but with the road conditions being so poor in the late ’50s, the trip could take up to 12 hours. The drivers remember carrying planks of wood that they used to pry trucks and cars out of the mud along the route.”

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Now, Bandstra Transportation and Babine Truck & Equipment, owns eight facilities and a fleet of 180 power units, 360 trailers and 70 pieces of support equipment. The companies employ 400 people throughout northern B.C. and generate annual revenue of $85 million.

“This is another gem of a company that I am delighted to have in our growing organization,” said Murray Mullen, Mullen CEO. “The Bandstra name is well-known to many in the transportation industry. Founded 65 years ago, this family-owned business has grown to be one of the largest diversified transportation companies in British Columbia earning a reputation for quality service and community involvement.”

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Mullen’s early history shares quite a bit in common with the Bandstra story. In 1949, Roland Mullen started with a single truck hauling gravel growing to three trucks during the 1950s. From the 1960s to 1970s Mullen continued to grow the fleet and in the 1980s started acquiring other companies.

In 1991, Murray was appointed president and CEO. In 1993, he took the company public and it has since purchased numerous other logistics, freight and warehousing businesses all across Canada.

It trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol MTL.

While a difficult decision for the family, Phil Bandstra, company president, said in the end they felt it was in the best interests of everyone to make the move.

“As a mid-size company, we’re competing more and more in the big leagues as we grow and ultimately we needed the resources of a larger group to continue to be competitive and get access to technology that we couldn’t obtain elsewhere,” he said.

An while there has been interest in the company, from various quarters over the years, Mullen was the best opportunity for Bandstra to maintain the status quo while continuing to grow the business.

“We specifically chose Mullen based on their track record of running standalone businesses, leaving them alone, respecting the terms of existing employees’ wages, benefits and jobs, so we think it’s the best decision for our company and our employees going forward.”



editor@interior-news.com

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OKOTOKS, AB, April 16, 2021 /CNW/ – (TSX: MTL) Mullen Group Ltd. (“Mullen Group”, “We”, “Our” and/or the “Corporation”) is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Bandstra Group of Companies (“Bandstra Group”), including Bandstra Transportation Systems Ltd. (“Bandstra Transportation”) and Babine Truck & Equipment Ltd. (“Babine”). A definitive share purchase agreement was signed, and the acquisition closed on April 16, 2021.

The Bandstra Group was established in 1955 and has a long history of servicing customers in the Province of British Columbia through its two primary operating businesses; Bandstra Transportation and Babine, employing an experienced and dedicated workforce of over 400 British Columbia residents.

Bandstra Transportation, based in Smithers, British Columbia, provides a wide range of transportation and logistics services to communities in northern British Columbiaincluding truckload; general freight; less-than-truckload; and specialized hauling services. Customers are serviced through a network of eight (8) owned and three (3) leased facilities. They operate a fleet of approximately 180 power units, 360 trailers and 70 pieces of support equipment, generating approximately $65.0 million in annualized revenue.

Babine is an Original Equipment Manufacturer (“OEM”) dealership that operates from three (3) locations in British Columbia: Smithers, Prince George and Prince Rupert. In addition to providing sales of OEM trucks and trailers, Babine provides equipment and maintenance to Bandstra Transportation as well as parts and service work that supports the natural resources, energy and transportation industries in northern British Columbia. Babine generates revenue of approximately $20.0 millionannually.

This is another gem of a company that I am delighted to have in our growing organization. The Bandstra name is well known to many in the transportation industry. Founded 65 years ago, this family owned business has grown to be one of the largest diversified transportation companies in British Columbia earning a reputation for quality service and community involvement.

I want to take this opportunity to welcome the Bandstra Group to our organization. I know from discussions and my past experience that this is a very difficult decision for the Bandstra family. Here is a company that has been family owned and operated for decades, so for the Mullen Group to be chosen as the acquiring company speaks to our reputation. We have a history of acquiring family owned businesses and the experience necessary to ensure a smooth transition. I am also pleased that the senior management team, including several of the family members, have agreed to continue to manage and oversee the business. No one knows the Bandstra Group better than the Bandstra family.

I firmly believe the transportation and logistics sector of the economy is being transformed by the digital revolution and the emergence of e-commerce as a dominant trend in the retail space. The acquisition of the Bandstra Group will enhance the service capabilities of our organization on the west coast and ensure we can compete with any transportation provider,” commented Mr. Murray K. Mullen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Bandstra Transportation will operate within Mullen Group’s Logistics & Warehousing segment and Babine will operate within the Specialized & Industrial Services segment. Both are expected to generate returns consistent with their respective operating segment. Mullen Group funded this acquisition from existing cash.

About Mullen Group Ltd.

Mullen Group is one of Canada’s largest logistics providers. Our network of independently operated businesses provide a wide range of service offerings including less-than-truckload, truckload, warehousing, logistics, transload, oversized and specialized hauling transportation. In addition, we provide a diverse set of specialized services related to the energy, mining, forestry and construction industries in western Canada, including water management, fluid hauling and environmental reclamation. The corporate office provides the capital and financial expertise, legal support, technology and systems support, shared services and strategic planning to its independent businesses.

Mullen Group is a publicly traded corporation listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol “MTL”. Additional information is available on our website at

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