Posted by on November 21, 2023 7:40 am
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Layoffs And Bankruptcies Pile Up In Logistics Amid Shocking Downturn

Layoffs And Bankruptcies Pile Up In Logistics Amid Shocking Downturn

By Craig Fuller, CEO of FreightWaves

Since launching in 2017, FreightWaves’ team of award-winning reporters has covered the good — and bad — news and events in the transportation and logistics industries.

In those years, the freight transportation market has enjoyed prosperous times and periods of pain and misery. The freight market undergoes boom-and-bust cycles, like all commoditized industries.

FreightWaves SONAR correctly predicted the start of a drop in the freight market in March 2022. Since then, the overcapacity spurred by the pandemic has caused freight-hauling rates to drop to 2019 levels — or worse. For the past 18-plus months, there have simply been too many trucks for too little freight.

However, the impact has gone beyond U.S. trucking fleets and freight brokerages. The problems are not confined to the United States or just trucking. Ocean carriers, railroads, air cargo carriers and freight forwarders around the world have been impacted as well.

No one at FreightWaves enjoys reporting bad news. One of my followers on X recently commented, “Everything you post/repost or talk about is doom and gloom. I challenge you to say/find something positive about the economy pertaining to the trucking industry.”

I would love to do so. Unfortunately, the good news in freight, transportation and logistics has been sparse

Severe recession in the freight market 

After the market began to prove FreightWaves SONAR’s downturn prediction, some analysts and industry experts said the freight slowdown was a reversion to the mean. Unfortunately, it is not. We are in one of the worst downturns in freight market history, caused by a massive buildup of capacity, and it’s going to take time to burn it all off.

Simply put, the freight market is experiencing a severe recession. FreightWaves has an obligation to report that news.

Since early in 2022, many companies have gone out of business or severely cut back by letting employees go. Some of those companies were household names in the industry, such as Yellow Corp. and Convoy. Many others were much smaller, not known perhaps beyond their headquarters location. Nonetheless, the bankruptcies, closures and layoffs have piled up, and the financial and human losses have taken a toll.

The following synopses are some of the articles that FreightWaves has published in the past year that illustrate the poor freight economy. The full articles can be read by following the links; ongoing coverage of the “state of freight” can be found here on FreightWaves.com.

Bankruptcies and shutdowns 

Nov. 6: A court ordered liquidation of Twin Express, a Minnesota trucking company with 76 employees, as FreightWaves’ Clarissa Hawes reported. The 35-year-old company defaulted on a $19 million dollar loan.

Oct. 23: After its founder embezzled $25 million to purchase a G-550 jet and a $5 million mansion in Texas, Goldman Sachs-backed Slync wound down operations and hopes to sell its proprietary technology, as Hawes reported.

Oct. 22: Fort Worth-based SEL Supply Chain Solutions shut down, Hawes reported. Closure of the freight brokerage — that at one time had $65 million in revenue — left 125 employees out of work.

Oct. 19: Convoy, a venture capital-backed digital freight brokerage, shut down, as FreightWaves’ John Kingston reported. Valued at $3.8 billion, the “perfect storm” of the freight recession coupled with tighter capital markets was blamed for the company’s failure.

Oct. 19: A third-generation, family-owned trucking company and brokerage, Certified Freight Logistics, ceased operations after 95 years, as FreightWaves’ Hawes reported. Layoffs impacted 157 workers, including 101 linehaul and local truck drivers. The wind-down of the Santa Maria, California-based company was expected to be completed by Nov. 18. 

Oct. 12: Meadow Lark Transport, a 40-year-old Montana trucking company and freight brokerage that previously generated $200 million in revenue, shuttered operations, Hawes reported. The company had 273 drivers and 337 power units at the time of its closure, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. FMCSA data states the company’s brokerage authority was involuntarily revoked on Aug. 15 and its contract carrier authority was slated to be canceled on Oct. 28.

Sept. 29: Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Titan Transportation Services Inc. abruptly ceased operations on Sept. 29, as Hawes reported. Owner-operators said on Oct. 11 that the company, doing business as Sunset Logistics, still hadn’t refunded their $1,000 in escrow or maintenance account funds.

Sept. 25: An 85-year-old Indiana-based trucking and logistics company and its affiliates filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection less than nine months after it was acquired by private-equity firm Transport Acquisitions, as FreightWaves’ Hawes reported. Founded in 1938, Otwell, Indiana-based Elmer Buchta Trucking, which offered bulk, dry van and pneumatic trucking services, had 100 drivers and more than 230 power units, according to federal data.

Aug. 31: U.S. Postal Service contractor Matheson Flight Extenders filed paperwork stating that it planned to eliminate 305 jobs and close its sorting facility in Chicopee, Massachusetts, by the end of October, Hawes reported. That brought to about 1,000 the total job cuts it announced in the days around that time. Two other sorting facilities in Georgia and Maryland were also closed.

Aug. 7: Yellow Corp. filed for bankruptcy, leaving 30,000 employees out of work, as FreightWaves’ Todd Maiden reported. This number included approximately 22,500 members of the Teamsters union. The bankruptcy marked the end of the 99-year-old LTL company.

Aug. 7: FreightWaves’ Eric Kulisch reported Western Global Airlines, which operates chartered cargo jets for the U.S. military and other customers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and announced it will restructure. The company has nearly $500 million in debt. A bankruptcy restructuring has been expected for weeks because of collapsing revenues, a heavy debt load and the decision by credit rating agencies to pull their coverage because of the company’s lack of financial transparency. Bloomberg previously reported that Estero, Florida-based Western Global Airlines was arranging debtor-in-possession financing to support ongoing operations under a court-approved bankruptcy plan.

July 25: After experiencing record sales growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, digital freight brokerage Surge Transportation filed for bankruptcy protection, as FreightWaves’ Hawes reported. The company said it was unprepared for the abrupt decline in product demand and soaring shipping costs that rocked the transportation industry. 

July 17: Georgia-based trucking company Big J Express LLC, which reported a significant drop in revenue this year compared with the previous two years, filed for bankruptcy liquidation, Hawes reported. The company, which obtained its operating authority in 2014, had 37 drivers and the same number of power units and hauled general freight. Headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, Big J Express filed its petition in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

June 29: Cargo airline Amerijet laid off more than a dozen employees as the freight recession drags on, FreightWaves’ Kulisch reported. The airline said the move was necessary to protect its bottom line as revenues sag and costs rise.

June 28: Ameritrans Express filed a bankruptcy petition in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, as Hawes reported. Owner Frederick Amankwaahe waited almost four months before filing the Chapter 11 petition seeking to reorganize his company. Ameritrans provided transportation and delivery services as a contractor for the Postal Service. Its former employees are owed millions in unpaid wages.

June 28: More than 60 small trucking companies are collectively owed millions of dollars after Transplus Freight System Inc. (Transplus), a Mississippi-based logistics firm, filed for bankruptcy liquidation in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Mississippi. FreightWaves’ Hawes reported the story.

June 27: Ailing commercial electric pickup truck maker Lordstown Motors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It also put itself up for sale and sued former partner Foxconn, alleging fraud and failure by Foxconn to live up to its financial commitments.

June 16: Tiger Cool Express, a refrigerated rail shipping and logistics company, abruptly halted operations amid financial troubles. The company reportedly fell behind on loan payments. FreightWaves’ Hawes reported the story.

May 26: Peace Equipment LLC, headquartered in Edcouch, Texas, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing rising operating costs and “reduced income in the trucking industry.” The company, which has been operating since 2016, has 38 drivers and 27 power units and hauls general freight, fresh produce and refrigerated food throughout the U.S. Hawes reported the story.

March 24: Soler & Soler Hauling, a Miami-based trucking company, filed for bankruptcy protection. The company’s bankruptcy petition cited negative cash flow as well as high fuel and operating costs as factors for the bankruptcy. FreightWaves’ Hawes reported the story.

March 22: Hawes reported that trucking company Flagship Transport abruptly ceased operations, leaving more than 450 truck drivers without jobs after they were not paid for weeks. Flagship Transport was a logistics holding company headquartered in Medley, Florida.

March 7: FreightWorks Transport shut down after losing its top customer. The North Carolina-based trucking company laid off over 200 employees, including 140 drivers. FreightWaves’ Hawes reported the story.

Late November 2022: Art Mulder & Sons, a family-owned trucking company that had been in business for more than 50 years, ceased operations. The Holland, Michigan-based company specialized in refrigerated LTL freight. Hawes reported the story.

Nov. 26, 2022: Family-owned Mid Continent Trucking, a Denison, Iowa-based refrigerated carrier in business for 24 years, ceased operations. Co-owner Brian Wickersham said, “I would rather be able to pay my employees while I still have the money than wait until I don’t have it and then have to tell my employees that I can’t pay them.” FreightWaves’ Hawes reported the story.

Nov. 16, 2022: Freon Logistics, a Bakersfield, California-based trucking company, filed for bankruptcy. It provided truckload, less-than-truckload, intermodal, repair and maintenance, and warehousing services. Freon Logistics employed about 500 people, including truck drivers, administrative personnel and others, according to court records. Many employees claimed they were owed back pay. Hawes reported the story.

Sept. 30, 2022: Two trucking companies that contracted with the Postal Service to haul mail filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. McClellan Trucking Inc. filed its petition in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on Sept. 28, five days after the company’s parent company, Duran Transfer Inc., filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 23. The petitions state both companies are based at the same address in Waterford, Pennsylvania. The companies had been in business for more than 30 years and employed 23 people. FreightWaves’ Hawes reported the story.

July 6, 2022: Vermont-based LTL carrier LandAir, which focused on hauling hazardous materials, ceased operations. The private equity-owned trucking company had 135 drivers and 148 power units at 11 service centers in the U.S., as well as two service centers in Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario. The 54-year-old company serviced the Northeast and parts of Canada. Originally called Allied Air Freight, the company was founded by Fred Spencer in 1968. Hawes reported the story.

May 6, 2022: Family-owned Rooney Trucking Inc., headquartered in Polo, Missouri, ceased operations and filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The company contracted with the Postal Service to haul mail. Attorney Ryan Blay stated, “Fuel and labor expenses were certainly issues that affected Rooney Trucking Inc. The bigger issue, though, was the decision by the U.S. Postal Service to take away some routes and cancel certain contracts. The business couldn’t function profitably with a restricted income stream. This was the biggest factor in deciding to declare bankruptcy for the company.” FreightWaves’ Hawes reported the story.

April 26, 2022: Sullivan, Illinois-based Marvin Keller Trucking filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing a jury award of $10 million in December 2021. The bankruptcy petition, filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of Illinois, stated the bankruptcy filing was necessary to “avoid irreparable and immediate harm” to the carrier’s operations. The company also noted higher fuel costs and “other market conditions” as reasons for the filing. Hawes reported the story.

Layoffs

Nov. 16: Vehicle life cycle management software provider Solera Holdings Inc. conducted a round of layoffs via Teams on Nov. 13. According to an update on Layoff.com, West Lake, Texas-based Solera released 44 members of its U.S.-based billing team and “now all of their billing is done in Mexico.” FreightWaves’ Grace Sharkey reported the story.

Nov. 15: Trucking company 10 Roads Express laid off 66 workers at its facility in Fort Worth, citing the cancellation of postal contracts. The layoffs, which occurred Oct. 16, affected 55 truck drivers, four dispatchers and seven mechanics, according to a recent filing with the Texas Workforce Commission. FreightWaves’ Noi Mahoney reported the story.

Nov. 8: Hyliion Holdings gives up its electric powertrain business to focus exclusively on its generator technology and cutting 175 jobs in the process.

Nov. 4: Approximately 65 employees of Pittsburgh-based Elite Transit Solutions were laid off. This was the second round of job cuts the freight brokerage has experienced over the past month; about 20 employees were let go on Oct. 20. Hawes reported the story.

Nov. 6: Nearly 200 senior pilots at UPS accepted the company’s voluntary severance package, and regional passenger airline PSA Airlines is trying to recruit them to close a crew shortage. The head count reduction at UPS Airlines is much more limited than one envisioned at rival FedEx Express, where management has acknowledged it has more than 700 excess pilots and recently urged flight crews to quit for the same type of offer at PSA Airlines, an American Airlines subsidiary that operates in the eastern United States. FreightWaves’ Kulisch reported the story.

Nov. 3: Maersk announced plans to lay off 10,000 workers over the next year in light of “worsening market conditions.” The company has already conducted 6,500 of the layoffs, but those were unannounced. FreightWaves’ Greg Miller reported the story.

Oct. 13: Flexport laid off 600 workers. Flexport implemented a 20% workforce reduction as the freight forwarder moved to plug financial losses and become more nimble. Kulisch reported the story.

Sept. 29: Following a sale of BNSF Logistics’ brokerage unit to J.B. Hunt, an undisclosed number of employees were laid off. FreightWaves’ Joanna Marsh reported the story.

Sept. 27: Seattle-based logistics provider Flexe conducted its second round of layoffs in 14 months and fired 33% of the company — about 400 workers. FreightWaves’ Mahoney reported the story.

Sept. 12: GXO Logistics laid off 92 workers at a Texas distribution center. The contract supply chain solutions provider is ceasing operations at a distribution center in Wilmer, Texas. Mahoney reported the story.

Sept. 1: Coyote Logistics laid off an unspecified number of employees. FreightWaves’ Rachel Premack reported the story.

Aug. 31: Union Pacific furloughed at least 94 employees due to a drop in rail traffic. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, a union, said Union Pacific was planning to store hundreds of locomotives as demand for rail traffic has dropped. FreightWaves’ Marsh reported the story. 

Aug. 24: Nationwide moving and storage company WayForth laid off hundreds of employees and shuttered operations in eight states in an effort to stay afloat, as FreightWaves’ Hawes reported. The company’s CEO said the layoffs and reorganization were the result of a downturn in its business, which focuses on moving and storage services for seniors. The company planned to slash its workforce from about 500 employees to 50; laid off employees did not receive any severance packages. The company is exiting markets in Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. FreightWaves’ Mahoney reported the story.

Aug. 4: FedEx Corp., the nationwide parcel delivery giant, said it was eliminating 280 of 806 jobs at a facility in Fort Worth, Texas, after losing a customer. Mahoney reported the story.

July 11: Freightos laid off 13% of employees as its revenue weakened. The digital freight marketplace also downgraded its 2023 guidance. FreightWaves’ Kulisch reported the story.

June 29: Cargo airline Amerijet laid off more than a dozen workers. FreightWaves’ Kulisch reported the story.

June 1: Venture capital-backed trucking technology provider CloudTrucks laid off an undisclosed number of employees. However, a source close to the company claimed that 40% of the CloudTrucks team was let go. Like many FreightTech companies that have laid off workers in recent months, CloudTrucks blamed the declining freight market for the job cuts. The company had raised nearly $142 million since its founding in 2019. FreightWaves’ Hawes reported the story.

May 19: DHL Supply Chain and GXO Logistics laid off 80 workers in Texas, citing a loss of customers. FreightWaves’ Mahoney reported the story.

May 19: Coyote Logistics announced more layoffs; this round comes after a reported 200 job cuts in February.

May 11: U.S. Xpress laid off 150 staff members and reported a significant loss to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Knight-Swift acquired U.S. Xpress effective July 1. FreightWaves’ Kingston reported the story.

May 9: Freight broker Lipsey Logistics cited a weak freight market as the reason for layoffs. A source familiar with the layoffs said an estimated 20 jobs were cut. FreightWaves’ Hawes reported the story.

April 21: Flock Freight laid off 45 people — 8% of its workforce — in a second round of firings. More than 60 workers were fired in December 2022. Hawes reported the story.

March 8: Global logistics giant Ceva Logistics cut 142 jobs at two of its facilities in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, effective April 22. Prior to the firings there were about 700 employees at the facilities. FreightWaves’ Hawes reported the story.

Feb. 16: Convoy laid off an undisclosed number of employees and closed its Atlanta office. (Convoy ultimately closed in October 2023.) FreightWaves’ Sharkey reported the story.

Jan. 23: Uber Freight cut about 150 jobs — 3% of its workforce. All the job losses were in its digital brokerage operations. FreightWaves’ Kingston reported the story.

Jan. 18: Logistics giant Ryder laid off 800 workers in Texas. Ryder said the cutback was “due to a customer’s changing business needs.” FreightWaves’ Mahoney reported the story.

Jan. 13: Electric truck manufacturer Nikola filed a layoff notice for employees of the former Romeo Power battery-making plant in California, affecting up to 400 workers. Nikola is transferring battery pack manufacturing to Arizona. FreightWaves’ Alan Adler reported the story. 

Jan. 11: Flexport laid off about 20% of its employees. Its leadership said they would cut workers because the company had increasingly automated key systems and forecast decreased freight volumes. FreightWaves’ Kulisch reported the story.

Jan. 3: Wells Fargo Bank filed a petition to force United Furniture Industries into Chapter 7 bankruptcy after UFI’s abrupt decision to cease operations two days before Thanksgiving 2022, as FreightWaves’ Hawes reported.

Dec. 12, 2022: Fleet management solutions provider Motive laid off about 240 workers (6% of its workforce), blaming slowing demand. FreightWaves’ Mahoney reported the story.

Dec. 12, 2022: Auto manufacturer Stellantis announced plans to close an Illinois automobile factory in February 2023, terminating 1,350 workers. The company blamed rising electric vehicle costs for the shutdown. Mahoney reported the story.

Nov. 9, 2022: Freight brokerage giant C.H. Robinson laid off about 650 employees amid weaker-than-expected financial results in the third quarter of 2022.

Oct. 29, 2022: Trucking payments platform AtoB laid off 30% of its employees, citing “external economic headwinds.” FreightWaves’ Mahoney reported the story.

July 8, 2022: Logistics provider GXO announced it was closing a Milwaukee facility, laying off 144 workers. Mahoney reported the story.

July 8, 2022: LandAir’s 450 employees were terminated, some via Zoom video call. Former workers and drivers said the management ran the LTL carrier “into the ground.” FreightWaves’ Hawes reported the story.

June 21, 2022: Logistics company DB Schenker announced 130 employees would be laid off at its Fort Worth facility after it lost a Kraft Heinz contract. FreightWaves’ Mahoney reported the story.

June 10, 2022: Global logistics provider Neovia cut 98 jobs at its Tannersville, Pennsylvania, facility. FreightWaves’ Hawes reported the story.

April 14, 2022: Logistics giants Geodis and Ceva filed paperwork for hundreds of job cuts in Ohio. Geodis, headquartered in France, announced that it would close all business operations at its facility in Columbus, eliminating 302 jobs by the end of September 2022. Ceva Logistics, which is owned by French container carrier CMA CGM, said it would close a portion of the Groveport facility, located near Columbus, by Sept. 30. Hawes reported the story.

Tyler Durden
Tue, 11/21/2023 – 06:30

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