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C.H. Robinson: Down Memory Lane

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C.H. Robinson: How it all started

C.H. Robinson Worldwide (CHRW) is a 113-year-old transportation and logistics service company. As of last year, the company had 120,000 customers and a network of offices in Europe, Asia, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and South America.

In 1905, Charles Henry Robinson, a traveling salesman, incorporated the company to transport vegetables, fruit, and merchandise to the inhabitants of Dakota Territory. The transport of perishable goods such as fruits and vegetables was a challenge in the early 1900s, when the main transportation was horse and buggy. Since then, the company has progressed with each new mode of transport and has found better ways to cater to customers’ and suppliers’ needs.

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Milestones for C.H. Robinson

  • In 1935, the Interstate Commerce Commission and Motor Carrier Act exempted fresh produce from transportation regulations, benefiting C.H. Robinson as its original business was the sourcing and transportation of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other perishable items.
  • From 1945 onward, the company took up the transportation of fresh produce by rail, and in 1968, it entered the trucking business as a contract carrier. In 1983, CHRW acquired T-Chek Systems, a fuel card management company, to better serve motor carriers.
  • The period between 1988 and 1993 proved to be important for the company as it ventured into the intermodal business and began offering global forwarding services. In 1993, the company also ventured into Europe through the acquisition of partial ownership of a French motor carrier company, Transesco.
  • In 1997, the company was listed on NASDAQ, and in 1998 it acquired third-party less-than-truckload company Preferred Translocation Systems and Comexter Group.

Since then, the company has made a string of acquisitions to venture into new territories around the world and further its business interests. We’ll look at these acquisitions in greater detail in the next part of this series.

Investing in ETFs

A total of 72 ETFs have C.H. Robinson in their portfolio. The SPDR S&P Transportation ETF (XTN), whose top holdings include Amerco (UHAL) (2.69%), Ryder System (R) (2.67%), and JetBlue Airways (JBLU) (2.63%), has a 2.47% exposure to CHRW.

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