The past few years have been hard for many in the trucking industry, and several companies have closed with virtually no warning. Celadon Group, New England Motor Freight, and Falcon Transport made big headlines (along with several others), but countless smaller companies have also shut their doors without warning. There are countless reasons for the shutdown, but as a driver, if your trucking company closes suddenly, it’s a tough pill to swallow. Here’s what you need to know to navigate your next steps.
1. The Warning Signs
Warning signs don’t help if your company has already closed its doors, but sometimes you might be able to spot a few warning signs before a shutdown. When a trucking company closes, it’s usually because of financial strain. So, unsurprisingly, the warning signs are also usually about money. If you start noticing inconsistent freight or that vendors aren’t getting paid on time, start watching for other red flags.
As a driver, you probably won’t be the first person to be notified of major business changes or shutdowns. Management may hear about pending shutdowns or other changes more quickly, so keep an eye on staffing changes. If you notice that your bosses start interviewing elsewhere, it might be time to ask why. Similarly, if your company starts eliminating job perks, it could be a sign that money is tight. Often companies try to save money by scrimping on the “extras.”
The biggest red flags are also the most obvious. If your paycheck bounces, that’s a big sign that something isn’t right with your company. Along the same lines, if you’re fueling up and have a fuel card declined, that is a huge red flag, especially if your company can’t easily clear up the situation. Another sign of trouble on the horizon is filing for bankruptcy. While some companies do make a comeback after filing for bankruptcy, that’s often not the case. If your employer is making news headlines for filing for bankruptcy, that might mean your job has a limited lifespan. It’s a good time to start looking for other opportunities.
2. Immediate Steps to Take
Hindsight is 20/20, so sometimes the warning signs are only clear after your trucking company closes. If you are on the road and get blindsided with news about a company closure, there are a few important steps you can take.
First and most importantly, stay level-headed. This is a stressful situation, and you probably have a lot of questions. As soon as you realize what has happened, find a safe place to stop. Then, read any communication from your employer carefully. Follow any final instructions they send you. These directions may indicate whether to finish your current delivery and where to leave your truck. You may still get paid for finishing your current route. If there are no final instructions from your employer, consider what is best for you in that situation and how you can move forward.
Once you have handled any immediate concerns, start planning your way home. Some companies, especially large ones, will help fund your way home. If you get stranded far from home and your company is unable to help, there are some support resources available to help. The St. Christopher’s Truckers Fund is one example. The Truckers Fund is a non-profit that helps truckers with financial assistance. Drivers can apply for aid, and they may be able to help support you and your family in difficult times.
3. Planning Longer Term
If your trucking company closes, there is a lot to think about, and it can be overwhelming. Once you are safely home and have taken a moment to clear your head, start looking forward. In the short term, there are a few things to take care of. Drive My Way’s Displaced Driver Resources can walk you through the process of filing for unemployment if you choose. We also have details on how to make sure that your health care continues and disability insurance does not end.
If you have a rainy day fund, consider using some of it during this time. Times like job transitions are exactly what you’ve been saving for.
Once you have resolved any immediate concerns, it’s time to start job searching. Especially after going through a company closing, you might have lingering frustration, hurt, or resentment toward trucking. That’s completely reasonable. When your trucking company closes, it can be quite a roller coaster. Prioritize mental and emotional health for your whole family. When you do start talking to recruiters for other jobs, it’s ok to explain your situation and ask tactful questions about company stability. Any recruiter worth their salt won’t see the past company closure as a poor reflection on your skills as a driver. When you’re looking for your next job, Drive My Way can help you find a company that fits your skills and lifestyle preferences. You’ll be back on the road in no time.
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