Editor’s Note: Welcome to View From the Top, a new series for Truckers News. In each feature, we’ll talk with one of trucking’s leaders about how their company and the industry are dealing with the unprecedented challenges and changes wrought by the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
Donnie Caldwell admits he misses one part of his job — the frequent personal interaction with the drivers — that has been mostly stripped away by the COVID-19 coronavirus. Still, the chief operating officer for Memphis, Tennessee-based Ozark Motor Lines, has never felt more pleased with or proud of the more than 745 drivers in his company’s trucks.
“It’s a lonely job,” says Caldwell. “We ask a lot of them and we typically like to spend a lot of time with them, but due to the virus that has had to go away.
“They’re at risk every day. They live alone and it’s a tough job. We owe a great, great debt of gratitude to the men and women out there keeping shelves filled and hospitals supplied.”
Caldwell is quick to add that Ozark’s driver corps has been essential not just to the nation’s economy, but also the company’s continued success as some trucking companies have struggled.
“We’re doing very well,” says Caldwell. “Business has been good. We’ve added equipment. We’re very optimistic about where we’re going.”
And, Caldwell says Ozark Motor Lines continues to look to hire more drivers.
Looking ahead, Caldwell recognizes there will “be some trying times ahead.” He expects the sagging economy will claim some companies, but he remains optimistic.
“We’ll get through this,” says Caldwell. “As a company and as a country.”
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