Overdrive Magazine

January 2020

Issue link: https://dmtmag.uberflip.com/i/1197294

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2 | Overdrive | January 2020 V O I C E S 'It's o cial. We're screwed. Celadon is done.' Jack Rivera, a company driver with Celadon, posted that message on his Facebook page early Monday, Dec. 9. But he rst heard the news on Saturday night at a truck stop when a Crete Carrier driver showed him a message from a dispatcher urging drivers to bring Celadon operators over to them. Rivera had seen social media posts to that e ect, but "I didn't want to believe it," he says. A steady stream of messages from Celadon had given him hope, but he nally got o cial word of the shutdown around mid- night the next night. Rivera, who has been an owner-op- erator and, more recently, a company driver for Celadon for over 11 years, was still trying to process the events the next day. He was among more than 3,000 others in the same boat follow- ing the abrupt closure of the eet. Bo Wells of Pachuta, Mississippi, was in Texas and delivered his last load for Celadon that Sunday night, then bobtailed to a Dallas truck stop. ere he spoke with Overdrive the next day, recalling, " e rumors that everybody else heard had been oat- ing around since ursday." Around 40 Celadon lease-purchase drivers with the company who'd en- tered into agreements with Transport Enterprise Leasing (TEL), headquar- tered in Chattanooga, Tennessee, be- gan asking questions within a private "Celadon Drivers" group on Face- book. Wells says they'd been noti ed of opportunity to move their truck leases to another of the approximately 10 carriers TEL operates lease-pur- chase programs with. TEL worked quickly to "help place between 30 and 35 of them with carriers we do business with," says CEO Doug Carmichael. Ten opera- tors with one particular partner had begun orientation by Dec. 11. To have chosen a new carrier outside of TEL's partners would have required a more signi cant upfront investment. Some other lease-purchase oper- ators didn't fare so well. Ohio-based Steve Randall, a moderator of the drivers' Facebook group Wells men- tioned, heard from one driver still in an arrangement with Quality Com- panies, owned by Celadon. (Celadon had intended to wind that business down, according to prior reports, a er it was at the center of investi- gations that eventually contributed to the company's demise.) Randall heard that driver had been instructed to deliver a nal load and take the rig to the nearest location of auctioneer Ritchie Bros. Randall had his own clarifying moment the previous week when he was hit with a big maintenance bill. e maintenance escrow account he held wasn't enough to repair his 2017 Kenworth W900, and Celadon "wouldn't approve the nancing on the rest of it," he says. Such approvals had been routine in the past. On the night of Dec. 8, he found out why he was rejected. He and others moved the Facebook group from private to public as outside recruiters rushed in to help fill the gap. There and elsewhere around social media, as drivers expressed anger over the grim uncertainty that comes with a sudden job loss, fleets offered bus Celadon operators scramble as fleet closes V O I C E S

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