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Darrel Wilson, founder and CEO of Wilson Logistics Inc., was born into the trucking industry but developed his knowledge into becoming the owner of an evolving enterprise.
His father was a truck driver, and out of high school, he says that’s the field he wanted to go into.
“I grew up in the industry,” he says. “I spent summers when I was in high school going with him and at a fairly young age.”
After completing high school, Wilson enrolled at Missouri State University but made a quick decision to change course: “I enrolled in August. I went to my classes and then was driving home and stopped at Reliable Chevrolet,” he says. “I saw a new Camaro that I thought I couldn’t live without, and I decided to buy a car and go to work.”
He worked at the MHC Kenworth truck dealership until he turned 21, when he could become a truck driver and planned to go out on the open road. He bought his first truck in 1980, and that quickly turned into three trucks to start his Wilson Logistics fleet. He continued to grow it, and a year later, he realized his rapidly growing company was going to be a full-time job. Through the 1990s and early 2000s, Wilson says he focused on running an advanced trucking fleet, but over the last decade, his company’s interest moved to growing through acquisitions.
“It took a couple of years to find our first (acquisition) but in 2014, we acquired Jim Palmer Trucking in Missoula, Montana,” he says. “Then, over the next six years, we made a total of five acquisitions. The only one locally was O&S Trucking from Jim O’Neal in 2016.”
Most of the companies Wilson acquired were stationed out West, and through that activity, the company had a fleet of 1,100 trucks. But in December 2021, the company sold the western division to Ashley Furniture, and now the focus is growing its presence in Springfield and the Midwest.
“We’re a growth company,” he says. “Our foot is always on the gas.”
The latest advances have been on the 120-acre terminal, which according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting was estimated to cost between $7 million and $8 million, in Strafford, and opened in July. Declining to disclose the final investment, Wilson says the next steps are adding a truck service facility, a leasing department and a used truck dealership. Future plans could include a restaurant, hotel, health clinic and child care facility open not only to Wilson Logistics’ employees, but also to the community of Strafford.
Besides the current facilities, Wilson says the company will always be looking for that next step.
“We don’t abandon our business model,” he says. “It’s solid. Our acquisitions are just a part of that model. But we’re opportunists. We will always be looking for the best opportunities that will fit us and our business.”
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