Truck drivers are suffering in 2019 — especially those who own or work at small businesses.
Rates in the spot market, where retailers and manufacturers buy trucking capacity as they need it, rather than through a contract, sank by around 18% year-over-year. That’s caused truckers like Demetrius Wilburn, a Georgia-based driver, to find themselves unemployed.
Wilburn bought his semi-truck four years ago after years of working as a company truck driver. But, due to rock-bottom rates, Wilburn wasn’t able to make a payment one month — and they repossessed his truck.
“I was only 6 months away from paying it off,” Wilburn told Business Insider. “I’m trying to transition back into law enforcement now — don’t want to ever drive trucks again. Definitely not worth it.”
Lexington, Kentucky-based owner-operator Chad Boblett told Business Insider that some truck drivers are seeing a “bloodbath” in just how low rates are.
Here are the trucking companies that have gone bankrupt in 2019, and how many truckers who are now out of a job. We used the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s company snapshot tool to measure how many truck drivers worked at each company.
Are you a truck driver who has been suffering in 2019 from low rates? Contact the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Starlite Trucking — 28 truck drivers
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Starlite Trucking, which was in business for 40 years, announced on July 12 that the company was closing down. The company was based in Ceres, California — about 100 miles southeast of San Francisco — and mostly hauled livestock feed, nuts, and other products for the agricultural region.
CEO Colby Bell said in a statement on Facebook that the rising compliance costs of California regulations gutted the company — particularly as rates have stagnated.
“We tried to provide a healthy work environment for our employees and give them the best wages and benefits we could, but in the end, the rates that were available did not support the cost structure needed to compensate our employees appropriately,” Bell said.
A.L.A. Trucking — 32 truck drivers
Effective June 26, Anderson, Indiana-based trucking company A.L.A. Trucking Inc. shut down after 31 years in operation. Along with 15 other employees, 41 truckers with A.L.A. lost their jobs.
Williams Trucking — 48 truck drivers
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Alabama-based Williams Trucking abruptly shut down on May 1, telling its employees to finish up deliveries, bring their trucks back to the headquarters, and go home.
LME — 424 truck drivers
On July 12, LME posted on its website that it was no longer accepting loads and was shutting down immediately. The company employed more than 400 truck drivers.
Based in New Brighton, Minnesota, LME was a less-than-truckload (LTL) trucking company in the US. LTL is a type of trucking where multiple shippers share a truck space to ship packages.
Last month, a federal judge ordered the owners of LME to pay out $1.25 million to its former employees. LME’s owners ran a trucking company called Lakeville Motor Express that abruptly shuttered in 2016, leaving nearly 100 workers without back pay.
Falcon Transport — 585 truck drivers
More than 550 truck drivers at Youngstown, Ohio-based Falcon Transport learned in late April that their employer was going under — effectively immediately.
CounterPoint Capital Partners, a Los Angeles-based investment firm, bought the 116-year-old company in 2017.
CounterPoint has not stated why it shut down Falcon. However, some speculate that the end of Youngstown’s General Motors plant, which shuttered in March, contributed to Falcon’s closure.
“It was like a bolt of lightning on a clear day and I wasn’t expecting that,” Falcon trucker Ed McCormick told WKBN, the local Youngstown CBS affiliate.
New England Motor Freight — 1,472 truck drivers
On Feb. 12, New England Motor Freight “stunned” the rest of the industry when it announced it was filing for bankruptcy and shutting down operations.
NEMF generated $402 million in revenue in 2017, ranking it as the 19th-largest less-than-truckload (LTL) trucking company in the US. LTL is a type of trucking where multiple shippers share a truck space to ship packages. It employed more than 1,300 truck drivers.
Thomas Connery, president and COO of NEMF, told Business Insider that high labor costs and other costs of business in the trucking industry were the leading reasons for the company’s bankruptcy filing. “Excessive regulation, significant toll increases, and the high cost of insurance were also among contributing factors,” Connery said.