Trucking companies report slower business as pandemic continues

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The coronavirus pandemic brings more appreciation for truck drivers keeping our stores supplied with essential items. But while at first, the industry was going full speed, business has slowed leaving truckers without loads.

At Prime Trucking in Springfield, drivers volunteered to stay out on the road and to provide for America's needs. And many are still keeping busy, but certain parts of the trucking industry have slowed down. Shipments of meat dropped, as some meat processing facilities have shut down due to COVID-19 cases.

Flatbed and tanker trucks also saw a drop in demand. Prime says its tankers often haul oils for food processing, and some of those plants are also impacted.

"When you look at our flatbed and our tanker division, those have slowed more dramatically than the refrigerated side, and we think that will continue," said Steve Wutke, Prime Inc. Vice President of Sales and Marketing. "Although we're still faring pretty well, we're seeing a larger decline in those two areas."

At Legacy, Inc. a smaller Springfield trucking company, they're also impacted by the meat shortage. Owner Scott Girth says his company usually hauls refrigerated foods, but now, it's harder to find freight to haul.

"Our contracted freight volumes are definitely down, and we’re having to look elsewhere, out on the open market, which makes it increasingly more difficult, because so many companies my size are also looking in the same market," says Girth.

He says trucking companies that usually haul non-essential commodities, which are not being shipped right now, are looking for essential loads on the open market. It's leading to more competition and the lowest freight rates he's ever seen.

Girth says he's been able to keep his 45 drivers working, but has other truck drivers calling, looking for work.