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Eagle Transport expands operations

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Eagle Transport truck driver David McLawhorn connects a fuel hose to the fueling tank on Friday before offloading unleaded gasoline at the Circle K store at Sunset Avenue and Winstead Avenue.

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Sunday, July 21, 2019

A Rocky Mount-based bulk hauler of petroleum has signed a deal with a Tennessee-based ethanol trader to haul the grain-based compound that eventually is mixed with gasoline.

Eagle Transport Corp., which is celebrating being in business for half a century, has acquired trucks belonging to and hired drivers working for Eco-Energy.

Eagle Transport President Lance Collette said that Eco-Energy tried to be a marketer and transporter of ethanol, but that the setup was not working.

“So we partnered with ’em to take over their transportation assets and be their hauler of ethanol,” Collette said.

Eco-Energy is headquartered in Franklin, which is southwest of Nashville.

Eagle Transport is the nation’s sixth-largest bulk hauler of petroleum.

Collette said Eagle Transport had been operating 467 trucks prior to the deal with Eco-Energy.

As a result of the deal, Eagle Transport added 28 Eco-Energy trucks and shifted approximately 40 Eco-Energy drivers to the Eagle Transport payroll.

Eagle Transport already has about 1,000 employees, with about 850 of them being truck drivers.

The most visible service provided by Eagle Transport is hauling loads of gasoline or diesel from large fuel tank terminals to convenience stores.

Eagle Transport provides a fuel-hauling service as far north as Delaware City, Del., as far south as Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and as far west as Nashville in the Volunteer State.

Eagle Transport also is in the chemical hauling business. The company’s chemical hauling division operates in all 48 mainland states and in two Canadian provinces.

With Eagle Transport’s acquisition of the Eco-Energy fleet, Eagle Transport now can go get loads of ethanol from distribution points and haul those loads to fuel terminals, where the ethanol is blended into gasoline.

Joe Duncan, Eagle Transport’s senior vice president for finance, said Eco-Energy has ethanol operations throughout the nation as well as within Eagle Transport’s service area footprint.

Duncan also said officials with both companies had kept in touch through the years.

Duncan said when Eco-Energy went searching for a hauler, Eagle Transport was first on the list.

“And we were able to close the deal,” he said.

Both companies completed the paperwork on July 15. The financial specifics of the deal were not disclosed but Duncan said Eco-Energy will be able to focus on marketing in the business world.

“And we have opportunities to grow with them, hopefully within our footprint — and if it works out, outside of our footprint,” Duncan said.

Eagle Transport continues to be owned by the Stallings family.

Since 1987, the business has been based in a building along South Wesleyan Boulevard, just southwest of the South Wesleyan interchange with Sunset Avenue.

Eagle was founded by Don Stallings, who is the company’s chairman of the board. Stallings played college football for the Carolina Tar Heels and in 1960 played for pro football’s Washington Redskins.

Stallings’ father, A.R. Stallings, became ill and the son returned home to Rocky Mount to work at what at the time was Stallings Oil and Coal Co.

The business had been established in 1941 along Chester Street near downtown as an independent bulk petroleum distributor and also sold coal. Six years later, the business relocated along Ricks Street.

In 1956, the Stallings family signed up with Oklahoma-based petroleum giant Phillips 66, which had aggressively entered the Southeastern market.

In 1966, the Stallings family celebrated 25 years of being in business and opened a modern headquarters along West Ridge Street.

During the early 1970s, the business became affiliated with Amoco and Texaco. The business eventually was renamed Stallings Oil and from the late 1980s to the late 1990s, the business was familiar to many with what was the Zipmart chain of convenience stores.

Today, the Eagle Transport office is a tribute to the past years of Stallings Oil and is filled with nostalgia, including an old-time Texaco Fire Chief gasoline pump.

Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Farris said Eagle Transport has long been well-managed by Don Stallings and his team.

“They are always on the leading edge when it comes to logistics, when it comes to transportation — and have been so, always been that way,” Farris said. “It’s in their DNA. They’re just wonderful corporate citizens and great employers. And they do a lot for us that people don’t realize as a community.”