CBJ Editorial

The CBJ is proud to have recognized “cool” companies in the Corridor for the past seven years. In this week’s issue, we again highlight many of the region’s coolest companies and best places to work.

This award is based on an employee satisfaction survey facilitated by event partner and recruiting and HR company Skywalk Group. The survey and follow-up analysis by Skywalk are free, and offer an excellent benchmark for companies in the Corridor.

The companies recognized this year have built a strong work culture, which is essential in attracting and retaining a talented workforce, especially with our low regional unemployment. Any competitive advantage, particularly with work culture, is important.

A special congratulations goes to CIVCO Medical Solutions for being named the grand champion, or the “Coolest of the Cool,” and the winner in the large companies category. CIVCO makes image-guided procedures safer through the design, manufacturing, and marketing of medical products.

CIVCO President Robin Therme was excited about the recognition and that the company might stop being known as one of the region’s best kept secrets.

North Liberty-based Spotix was the coolest in the medium-sized category (21-99 employees), while Cedar Rapids-based Fusionfarm placed first in the small category (20 or fewer employees).

Urbana-based Clickstop, an omnipresent CBJ award winner, attained another record. It came in at No. 4 in the large category, marking the company’s seventh consecutive time on the list. It is the only company to be featured every year since we began hosting this event in 2013, and the only company to be recognized twice as the overall Coolest Place to Work.

Heartland’s acquisition

The summer was mostly quiet on the mergers and acquisitions front for Corridor businesses. However, things are ramping up, with the announcement last week that Heartland Express has acquired Millis Transfer Inc., a Wisconsin-based dry van truckload carrier that also operates a driver training institute.

The $150 million mostly-cash acquisition will bring members of the founding Millis family’s management team into the Heartland business, along with a diversified list of about 500 customers.

Millis Transfer operates in the Midwest, eastern U.S. and in Texas.

“We are impressed with the high quality of the driving professionals and the organization’s safety profile,” Heartland Express Chairman, President and CEO Michael Gerdin stated in a news release. “In addition, the regional coverage, equipment, conservative and disciplined management style and culture are all very compatible with our approach.”

Millis Transfer was Heartland Express’ second big acquisition in two years, following its approximately $113 million purchase of Interstate Distributor Co. in 2017. Both deals were notable in that they were done largely with cash, leaving Heartland Express with one of the strongest balance sheets in its industry.

Congratulations to Heartland Express on this promising deal. In a period when we’ve seen several important Corridor companies acquired, it’s exciting to see one of our publicly traded local companies being the acquirer. •