Dynamite Together

CROSSMARK acquires TNT, brings best of both to new, combined company
PLANO, Texas -- Two Texas-based brokers, distanced by less than a tank's worth of gas and servicing the convenience-store channel, will soon become one.

Plano, Texas-based CROSSMARK, better known for its sizeable supermarket business, has acquired Arlington, Texas-based TNT Marketing. The companieswhich united will now be known as TNT Marketing, a Division of CROSSMARKare both private and declined to specify the financial value of the deal.

The purchase, in the works over the past several months and one that required an internal vote among the partially employee-owned [image-nocss] TNT, literally doubles the size of the new TNT Marketing, a Division of CROSSMARK, c-store division to more than 100 employees.

"We're taking the best of what we do and the best of what they do. It's actually a perfect marriage," TNT president Kennith Fries told CSP Daily News. "CROSSMARK brings the back-of-the-house support along with the most current technological support. So this allows us to focus on selling and building our customers and clients business."

Founded in 1994, TNT, which represents such companies as General Mills, Bayer and ConAgra, first entered into conversations about two years ago with CROSSMARK.

"It was nothing really planned. It started off as a casual conversation between Ben and myself," said Fries, referring to CROSSMARK COO Ben Fischer. "We were the last nationally independent c-store broker, and we weren't necessarily looking to sell the business.

"The conversations died down, then picked up, then died down and picked up," Fries continued. "What we both realized is that culturally we were a perfect fit. The No. 1 focus for both companies is on the people. It's very odd to have a relationship that seemed to fit together so well so quickly. With this, we are now bigger and better resourced."

Under the new structure, Fries, whose career in the c-store industry includes more than 26 years at 7-Eleven, will serve as vice president of convenience and lead the integration efforts of the two companies.

CROSSMARK officials hailed the deal.

"We view this acquisition as the opportunity to take the lead as the sales agency of preference in the convenience channel," said COO Fischer. "The strength of CROSSMARK combined with the systems, processes and management team that TNT Marketing brings to our company in convenience will allow us to provide tremendous service to our clients and customers."

CROSSMARK vice president and managing director Jeff Neihart talked about perfect synergies.

"When you look at this geographically, it makes perfect sense," he told CSP Daily News. "We had Jacksonville and Miami; they had Orlando. We're big in confection, and they're small in confection. They're big in foodservice, and we had no foodservice."

What is especially notable, Neihart said, is that because of CROSSMARK's reputation in the supermarket and club segment, the c-store division is often overlooked by some, even though it is the same size as TNT.

"The whole reason we're doing this is to create more relevance for our suppliers and retailers. When we looked at this, the question really was why not come together."

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