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DDF Transportation, a local trucking company whose rapid growth had attracted national attention, apparently has gone out of business.

Trucking industry sources and public officials confirmed Thursday that the Town of Tonawanda firm closed at the end of last week. DDF's owners, John W. Hise and Mark Howard, could not be reached for comment.

DDF's apparent demise is surprising because just last year it was ranked among the country's 500 fastest-growing private companies by Inc. magazine.

A visit to DDF's headquarters at 318 Sawyer Ave. revealed that the 10-year-old operation has been mothballed. For example, a sign from Saperston Real Estate Corp. indicates the 12,000-square-foot building is for sale. Only a maintenance man was on duty Thursday afternoon and DDF's fleet of more than 30 truck trailers was lined up, facing all directions.

Sources at other trucking firms said they believe DDF closed because Hise is in poor health and Howard wants to launch a new venture.

The company, which specialized in long hauls throughout the country, reported sales of $6.57 million in 1988 -- a 1,524 percent increase over 1984's $405,000.

DDF also was included in three previous surveys by the magazine, making it one of the few small companies capable of sustaining fast-paced growth over several years.

As of last year, DDF employed 67 people, who operated 33 tractors and 46 trailers from terminals in Tonawanda and South Holland, Ill.

No telephone number is listed for DDF with directory assistance in Illinois.

The trucking company had considered opening more terminals along the Eastern Seaboard and had applied for a permit from the state Department of Transportation to haul goods within New York, Howard said in an earlier interview.

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