Dallas entrepreneur Don Daseke has quite a touch with initial public offerings. Back in the 1970s, he founded and grew Walden Residential Properties from 6,000 to 42,000 multifamily units, oversaw its IPO, and watched its sale in 2000 for $1.7 billion. Tuesday, Daseke’s 3,000-employee, Addison-based trucking company, Daseke Inc., began trading on Nasdaq—the first trucking firm to list in six years.
The Nasdaq debut came one day after the completion of Daseke’s merger with Houston-based Hennessy Capital, a special-purpose acquisition company, in a combination that valued the trucking company at about $700 million. The Addison firm, which Don Daseke (pronounced DAAS-key) founded in 2008, is the largest owner and a leading consolidator in North America’s $133 billion open-deck freight market. With 3,000 tractors—70 percent of which it owns—and 6,500 flatbed trailers, it specializes in moving oversized, high-value, time-sensitive industrial and infrastructure equipment and materials for customers such as Boeing, Caterpillar, and GE.
Daseke Inc. so far has brought nine U.S. trucking companies under its corporate umbrella, and aims to double that number over the next three years. Meantime its revenue has grown to $650 million last year, up from $30 million in 2009. Daseke’s stock began trading Tuesday in the $10 range and accounted for about $370 million of the company’s value, Don Daseke said. His management team still owns “over 50 percent” of the company, he added, and he’s signed a five-year employment agreement to remain with the company as its chief executive.
“The key for us was to have the capital, the resources to continue growing, and that’s exciting for us,” Daseke said of the Hennessey deal, which he likened to a “quickie IPO.” As part of the transaction Hennessey changed its name to Daseke Inc. and, on Tuesday, trading in the trucking firm began under the ticker symbol “DSKE” on the Nasdaq Capital Market. Don Daseke said he aimed to use the new capital to increase the company’s EBITDA from $100 million to $140 million by year’s end.