Trucks parked at Hartt Transportation Systems, Inc. in Bangor. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Bangor trucking company Hartt Transportation has been sold to a Canadian firm, marking an end to 73 years of local ownership of the business.

Winnipeg, Manitoba-based trucking company Bison Transport, a subsidiary of Canadian corporation James Richardson & Sons, Limited, announced on Monday that it had acquired 100 percent of Hartt Transportation, effective Dec. 31, 2021. Financial details of the transaction were not made public.

It’s the latest example of a national buyer acquiring a family-owned business in the Bangor area as the U.S. economy sees significant consolidation, especially in more mature industries.

Former Hartt owner Billy Hartt, who took over from his father, company founder Delmont Hartt, in 1996, said that he expects Bison to retain Hartt’s current employees.

“I am excited for my employees to become part of the Bison family, as we share similar core values and cultures,” Richardson said. “I am certain that, with the merger of Hartt’s and Bison’s teams, they will produce amazing results and become an even stronger carrier for the future.”

Bison Transport president Rob Penner said the acquisition of Hartt will transform the company into a tier one U.S. domestic fleet, and would strengthen the company’s cross-border offerings.

Hartt Transportation, founded in Etna in 1948 and located there for more than 30 years until moving to Bangor in 1981, previously served a clientele almost entirely composed of customers in the paper industry. With the decline of Maine’s paper industry, however, over the past two decades the company has seen much of its business shift out of Bangor and into Auburn, as well as to its terminal in South Carolina. Today, it is a major carrier for Poland Spring water.

Though the Bangor region has a long history with the trucking industry, total employment at trucking firms — including drivers, maintenance staff, dispatchers and others — in Penobscot County dropped more than 29 percent between 2007 and 2016, to 1,245 from 1,763.

The industry’s total Bangor-region output shrank more than 17 percent between 2007 and 2014, to $106 million from $128 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which adjusted the figures for inflation.

Bison Transport, founded in 1969 and purchased by James Richardson and Sons in 2019, employs more than 3,700 drivers and staff, who operate throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Bison will retain Hartt’s terminals in Bangor and Auburn, as well as in South Carolina, in addition to the Hartt company name.

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.