Trucker Central Freight Lines to Close After Years of Losses

5 months ago 70
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Trucking institution Central Freight Lines Inc. volition upwind down its concern successful the coming weeks aft failing to halt years of losses contempt beardown request successful freight markets during the pandemic, the institution said Sunday.

The privately held institution based successful Waco, Texas, has astir 1,200 trucks and is simply a ample relation successful the less-than-truckload business, a portion of the trucking assemblage successful which carriers determination shipments from aggregate customers connected a azygous trailer. Most operators successful that concern have thrived implicit the past 2 years nether dense request from retailers and manufacturers and the pandemic-driven roar successful online shopping.

Central Freight Lines generated $262 cardinal successful gross successful its astir caller fiscal year, institution President Bruce Kalem said. Despite a important influx of currency from its proprietor and main executive, Swift Transportation Co. founder Jerry Moyes, the concern incurred a nonaccomplishment of $67 cardinal past year, the latest successful a drawstring of losses that totaled astir “a quarter-billion dollars successful the past years,” Mr. Kalem said.

“The institution has been hemorrhaging currency and had operating losses for galore years. It got to the constituent that our liquidity dried up,” Mr. Kalem said. “Our proprietor has enactment a luck into the company. We were conscionable tapped out.”

News of the shutdown was reported earlier by commercialized work FreightWaves.


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Central Freight planned to halt picking up freight connected Monday and volition nary longer present freight by the extremity of this week oregon aboriginal next, Mr. Kalem said. Most of its 2,130 employees volition beryllium laid off, but for a fistful who volition upwind down the concern and merchantability disconnected its fleet.

It is the largest trucking nonaccomplishment since truckload carrier Celadon Group Inc. filed for section 11 bankruptcy protection astatine the extremity of 2019, the aforesaid twelvemonth that determination less-than-truckload institution New England Motor Freight Inc. unopen down.

Central Freight Lines is the 23rd-largest U.S. less-than-truckload bearer by 2020 revenue, according to proscription probe steadfast SJ Consulting Group Inc. The institution provides work crossed the confederate U.S. done a web of 65 freight terminals, Mr. Kalem said.

Founded successful 1925, Central Freight Lines went done respective ownership changes and was acquired by Mr. Moyes successful the precocious 1990s. It expanded operations done immoderate smaller acquisitions, Mr. Kalem said, but mislaid a large lawsuit successful 2016 and took connected important indebtedness erstwhile it replaced its fleet implicit a four-year play that ended successful 2017.

“We seemed to effort everything,” Mr. Kalem said, including respective absorption changes and strategy shifts—from cutting prices and expanding shipment volumes to raising rates and lowering volumes.

As driverless conveyance companies Aurora and Embark are making their stock-market debut this month, WSJ’s George Downs spoke with the CEOs astir wherefore they’re focusing connected autonomous trucks and whether that could spell a solution for the U.S. truck-driver shortage.

The institution received a $10 cardinal indebtedness from the Paycheck Protection Program successful April 2020 that has since been forgiven, helium said.

The institution chopped payroll, past raised wages to vie for drivers successful a choky labour market. Mr. Kalem said. “Nothing seemed to work,” helium said. “In the end, we conscionable couldn’t get capable drivers to determination our freight.”

Write to Jennifer Smith astatine jennifer.smith@wsj.com

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