Jobless Celadon drivers may not be out of work for long as rivals look to hire

With thousands of drivers suddenly out of work following Celadon Group’s announcement that it was filing for bankruptcy last week, some of the nation’s other large trucking companies are hoping to scoop up qualified candidates.

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Celadon -- the largest provider of international truckload services in North America -- had around 3,000 drivers across North America.

And while competitors expressed their condolences to drivers who have found themselves without a job in the midst of the holiday season, many also see an opportunity to beef up their teams.

The CEO of Werner Enterprises -- the Nebraska-based provider of freight management and supply chain solutions -- for example, sent heartfelt thoughts to the thousands of Celadon associates, some of whom the company has already been in contact with.

“Our team has spoken with a number of former Celadon drivers, and we continue to place those in positions that meet our qualification guidelines,” Derek Leathers said in a statement to FOX Business.

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Freight company CRST International also said it was looking to hire out-of-work drivers in light of the recent bankruptcy.

“We are providing Celadon drivers fast placement into orientation, and an exclusive transition bonus to support them over the holidays,” a CRST International executive told FOX Business. “In addition, we have worked to quickly respond by being on site in Indianapolis this week, to provide resources to employees in need, including immediate application processing and on-site interviews. In light of this challenging situation, we at CRST are proud to be a part of an industry that has rallied with such powerful and immediate support to those displaced, and we wish all Celadon employees the best of luck as they transition into their new careers.”

A spokesperson for Tennessee-based U.S. Xpress -- the nation’s fifth-largest asset-based truckload carrier by revenue -- told FOX Business it is always looking for “top-tier talent” to add to its team of professional drivers.

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In-demand qualified drivers may also find opportunities at some of the country’s large retailers -- like Walmart and Amazon -- which are building out their own fleets of drivers.

A spokesperson for Walmart told FOX Business that the retailer is hiring at many of its locations around the country.

The CEO of Minnesota-based Dart Transit wrote an open letter to former Celadon drivers, saying it would match or exceed existing pay packages, as first reported by Freight Waves. The company also offered assistance to any drivers stranded in the field.

Companies, however, that did business with Celadon do not appear concerned about the bankruptcy having any impact on their businesses. Spokespeople for Walmart, Phillip Morris and Honda told FOX Business they did not expect operations to be disrupted.

Should workers decide to pursue other driving opportunities, it will likely be welcome news as a widespread driver shortage weighs on companies. The industry was short about 60,800 drivers in 2018 -- a roughly 20 percent increase from the year prior. If current trends continue, the shortage is expected to balloon to more than 160,000 by 2028. Over the next decade, the industry will need to hire 1.1 million new drivers, many of whom will be needed to replace older and retiring workers.

While Celadon Group’s bankruptcy was related to a multiyear investigation into an alleged fraud scheme among former executives, as previously reported by FOX Business hundreds of companies have failed so far this year due to market conditions.

According to Donald Broughton, principal and managing partner of data firm Broughton Capital, 795 companies have failed in 2019. That means almost 24,000 trucks were removed from the nation’s capacity.

In 2018, 310 companies failed in total, removing 2,805 trucks from the road. That was, however, a “historically record-low rate for trucking company failures,” Broughton said.

In addition to Celadon Group, other big companies that went under include New England Motor Freight, which employed more than 1,400 drivers, HVH Transportation, Falcon Transport and LME.

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