Japanese firm buying Indy-based logistics company for $260M

Industrial manufacturer Toyota Industries Corp. is getting into the logistics business, and it’s buying Indianapolis-based Bastian Solutions LLC for $260 million as part of that plan.

Japan-based Toyota Industries—which is separate from Toyoto Motor Corp., the well-known maker of passenger cars—announced the purchase Friday. It is expected to close in April.

Bastian, which was founded in 1952 by Elgan Stark, provides material handling automation, supply-chain software, industrial controls and robotics. Stark’s son-in-law, Bill Bastian Sr., bought the company in 1962. The company is now led by Bill Bastian II.

Bastian has 589 employees, including 120 in Indianapolis and 85 in Greenfield. The company also has facilities in St. Louis, Louisville and several other countries. It posted about $225 million in sales for 2016.

Bastian will become part of a new Toyota Industries division called Toyota Advanced Logistics Solutions.

Bastian "has superior expertise in the development of software to control and manage materials handling systems at logistics centers and is a leader in combining hardware and software, system development, networking, and maintenance into optimal end-to-end solutions," according to a press release from Toyota Industries.

Toyota Industries, established in 1926, operates more than 200 companies, including Columbus, Indiana-based Toyota Material Handling North America, a forklift manufacturer with factories in Columbus, New York and Iowa. Toyota Material Handling has more than 8,000 employees and more than $3 billion in annual revenue.

Brett Wood, CEO of Toyota Material Handling, said Toyota Industries wanted to get into logistics because it is in industry awash in change. He said areas of opportunity include e-commerce; labor management and labor cost issues; logistics consulting; automation; and custom robotics.

“It’s quite the shift, really in our industry. We realized we wanted to be part of that,” Wood told IBJ.

Toyota Industries decided that acquiring Bastian would be the quickest way to jump into the sector, Wood said. 

“We could grow organically, but that would take longer than desired. This acquisition of a leading company like Bastian Solutions just puts us into that market as quickly as possible, with a market leader.”

The CEO of Toyota Advanced Logistics will be Mike Romano, currently the CEO of Associated Integrated Supply Chain Solutions in the Chicago area. 

Wood said Bastian will keep its name and top leadership. Bill Bastian II will remain CEO, and Aaron Jones will continue as president, Wood said. 

Wood also said “it’s very unlikely there will be any changes in staffing levels” elsewhere within Bastian.

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