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Saturday, Sep 23, 2023

Acquisition of Shipping Firm

“But wait – there’s more!” The memorable catchphrase from direct response television ads is part of the culture at Moulton Logistics Management Inc., which for years worked in conjunction with pitchman Ron Popeil.And the “more” for Moulton is that the 1968-founded San Fernando Valley fulfillment house, which has shipped products from thousands of TV ads, has been acquired by an East Coast company.Late last year, Moulton Logistics in Van Nuys was purchased by Amware Fulfillment, one of the largest independent fulfillment companies in the country, for an undisclosed amount.

Moulton packs and ships products for other companies, as does Amware. The consolidation was timely, according to Harry Drajpuch, chief executive of Atlanta-based Amware.

“From the Moulton side, they were ready to for the next stage of growth requiring capital investments and management expertise,” Drajpuch said.  “From the Amware side, we were on the hunt for a company with great service, reputation and culture. We just completed our best and strongest year in the history of the company. The COVID pandemic accelerated the shift to online purchasing and Moulton gives us additional services, capacity and expertise to continue growing and serving our customers.” Seapoint Business Advisors President Bob Grewal aided Moulton Logistics Chief Executive Larry Moulton, who was ready to sell the company he founded.

“Buyers just want to put the money to work,” Grewal said. “Larry picked an optimal time.”Company’s gradual rise Despite the challenge of the coronavirus crisis, Grewal said that the Moulton Logistics sale went smoothly and surprisingly rapidly.

“Fortunately for us, everyone worked really, really hard on it,” Grewal said, who recalled that his assignment began Oct. 5 and culminated with a transaction closing on Dec. 22. “We were able to get the deal done.” The Moulton Logistics sale to Amware marked the close of an incredible half-century narrative for Larry Moulton.

“We started as a tiny service bureau in 1968 trying to reprogram scientific computers to do accounting functions,” the company founder told the Business Journal just over a decade ago. “A year later, we branched out into processing billing for some of the L.A. Times newspaper dealers (and later mailing and data entry for Western Union).”  Annual company growth had been relatively slow until the late 1980s, when Fulfillment Service Inc. approached Moulton with a proposal.

“(They asked us) if we could print UPS labels and manifests. This is the first time we had heard the term ‘fulfillment’ in that context,” Moulton recalled in 2008.

When Fulfillment Service Inc. went out of business, several Fulfillment Service clients asked Moulton to continue the service. That pivot paid off, quickly boosting the company’s bottom line. By 1990, Moulton’s company relocated into a 15,000-square-foot building, where it landed its biggest account to date: Ronco.

To say that Ronco – the Chicago-based television direct-response product-seller founded by Ron Popeil which purveyed such inventions as the Veg-O-Matic, Mr. Microphone and the Smokeless Ashtray from 1964 through 2018 – brought big business to Moulton Logistics would be an understatement. The Van Nuys firm grew to 190 employees and a 750,000-square-foot warehouse facility at 7855 Hayvenhurst Ave.

Last year, Moulton Logistics, now rounding 300 employees, used the services of CBRE Group’s Bennett Robinson to renew its leases totaling 255,404 square feet of industrial space across two adjacent Prologis-owned properties in Van Nuys — the Hayvenhurst Avenue warehouse and another 79,744 square feet at 16620 Stagg. St.

“Although these buildings are not new, they are state-of-the-art and sit in an excellent location,” Robinson said in a contemporaneous statement. “Our region boasts some of the lowest industrial vacancy in the nation. Many of our clients prefer to renew their leases – even if they reset at a higher level – than trying to find suitable product anywhere else.” Moulton also uses a 30,000-square-foot warehouse in Chatsworth and has a 172,000-square-foot East Coast presence in South Brunswick, New Jersey, Grewal said.

Cut to the age of Amazon.com Inc.-led e-commerce, which has only surged during the pandemic year, and Moulton’s space is very big business because not every retailer relies on Amazon for online distribution.

“They were just so well poised for the shift to e-commerce because they already had the infrastructure,” Grewal said. “What makes Moulton unique is that they’re basically customer-agnostic. If Amazon doesn’t want to fulfill your order, Moulton will.” Moving forwardThe addition of Moulton’s four sites adds 500,000 square feet to Amware’s total footprint and expands Amware’s national fulfillment network to 15 facilities, enabling one- or two-day ground delivery to 95 percent of the U.S. population.

According to Drajpuch, “Amware is synonymous with customized fulfillment” and the acquisition of Moulton is synergistic and complementary to what Amware has been doing since 1989.

“Moulton gives us a significant footprint in the largest populous state,” Drajpuch said, “(plus) a more diverse customer base, additional parcel spend management, employees that know and understand their business very well, great EDI (electronic data exchange) capability, strong customer-facing tools and support people, an outstanding history and reputation in the direct response and fulfillment space, a business culture similar to Amware’s and (customer and employee care).” Looking forward, Drajpuch said folding Moulton’s infrastructure into his company will build a bigger and better company for e-commerce clients.

 “We are stronger financially and can continue investing in people development as well as the latest technology,” he said. “All these factors allow our customers to continue growing with us – we now have the ability to service customers over $1 billion and growing.”

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.

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