As the news of the demise of trucking giant Celadon at first seeped out and then flooded social media last weekend, the reaction in the trucking industry morphed from disbelief to shock and then, in some instances, to outright anger.
Drivers for the Indianapolis-based company complained they received no direct communication at first, then mixed signals, leaving most at the mercy of Facebook gossipteers and “a guy I know said …” comments. Fuel cards were turned off and then they weren’t. Drivers were supposed to stop everything and then they were to complete their deliveries. Drivers were getting bus tickets, and some claim they were stranded.
Then, the official word finally came from the company:
“We regret to inform everyone that Celadon Group, Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. We will continue to haul and deliver all loads that we now have in transit. … We have been assured that everyone who follows instructions will be paid for the work and miles assigned and completed, and Celadon will not leave anyone stranded away from home.”
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett had harsh words for Celadon but in a statement offered help to employees who were suddenly unemployed:
“Today’s decision by Celadon is the result of the worst kind of corporate recklessness, with the actions of a few highly-paid executives creating tragedy for workers across Central Indiana.
“While I am concerned about the future of the Celadon campus on the far eastside and the economic impact of its closure, my top priority is the well-being of Indianapolis families affected by this announcement.
“I have directed my office and Employ Indy to immediately begin working with the Indy Chamber, as well as community partners like Ascend Indiana, to identify impacted workers and connect them with short-term resources, as well as training and tools that will provide a pathway to new career opportunities.”
Recruiters came out of the woodwork trying to snatch up desperate drivers facing an uncertain payday, and the possibility of being stranded. Numerous carriers posted Facebook ads aimed directly at Celadon drivers. They dangled everything from free transportation to sign-on bonuses.
To little or no surprise, individual drivers stepped up to offer rides, meals, money, and pet transportation to perfect strangers. A hastily created Facebook group formed to act as an ad hoc clearinghouse for the now suddenly former Celadon drivers. And, of course, a Go Fund Me page.
All along there was a torrent of social media commentary. Here’s a modest sampling of what was said on the Truckers News Facebook page, in the She Drives Facebook Group and elsewhere.
John Bell: “All celadon drivers go home collect a little unemployment. Enjoy the holidays with your loved ones. Take your time and decide who you would like to work for. Don’t be lured in by these vultures lurking about on Facebook. Good luck to all celadon employees.”
Brian: “And Merry Christmas. A bag of coal vs. last paychecks. Checks are coming from North Pole and down the chimney.”
Ed: “I used to work for Celadon, and according to my experience with them I would advise current Celadon drivers to make their own get home plans, just in case. The management team there doesn’t give a d*** about its drivers, and I wouldn’t believe a word they say about getting you home. To them drivers are no more than a necessary evil.”
Ken Decker: “If you guys are driving for a company you better hope yours makes it this Next year. There’s going to be a lot more of them.”
Steve Hughart: “Well there’s 3000 drivers there that’s going to be out of a job so that alt to help with the so-called driver shortage that don’t exist.”
Michael: “I’ve been saying for several years now. These large companies are taking cheap freight to bring prices down in order to push out the little guys. Well, it looks like it backfired. you’re the first of many to close its doors.”
Dave Allen: “Not sure I would trust them. The big cheeses of the company are in hot water with the law already. They really have nothing to lose. I would probably pay out of pocket for fuel to get me closer to home if fuel card is shut off and didn’t have enough fuel. Park it at nearest truck stop. Then send a merry Christmas this is where your truck is message to dispatch.”
Diver64: “Deliver your freight, fill up your trucks and head to the home terminal to drop it off. Don’t count on seeing any more pay from them.”
Jeffrey Roe: “This is very sad … but as big as the trucking industry is you still just be careful how you run things…I still remember when C.F. went out of business….that was a big blow to a lot of people…and I think it was around the same time of year…good drivers are hard to find sometimes … companies who have them working for them are doing whatever it takes to keep them…good luck to all the people of Celadon & God bless.”
Kyle Winner: “Goodbye! Another mega carrier that got what was coming to them. Work local or own your own, make the industry thrive again. Plain and simple.”
John Barra: “They just want the equipment back once they do good luck getting your money. Me personally would not give up my equipment until my money was direct deposit in my account. Just saying.”
Steve Rutkowsky: “Used to be they blamed the unions for going out of business now the truth is finally coming out about corporate mismanagement.”
Terry Dutton: “So I’d take that as a threat…do what you’re told, take our equipment where WE need it or you won’t get paid…hmmm.”
Dalton Payne: “I look at it like this, the trucking industry is one big dysfunctional family. We may bicker and poke fun at one another but the second something goes wrong, we band together. That premise is what started this group. We are doing everything we can to get every single driver home that has been left stranded by not only Celadon but now Hendrickson too.”