Multitasking microbusiness

OOIDA Board Member Rodney Morine details the survival of ‘microbusinesses’ during the pandemic on CBS.

August-September 2020

Mark Schremmer

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It’s no secret the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on small businesses has been steep. But for the smallest of small trucking “microbusinesses” it has become a matter of adapting to survive.

As part of a recent CBS news segment about the struggles facing small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, OOIDA Board Member Rodney Morine shed light on the difficulties confronting independent truck drivers.

Morine’s interview with Ted Koppel for the CBS show “Sunday Morning” was broadcast on June 21.

Morine, a third-generation trucker from Opelousas, La., told Koppel in an interview conducted about two months ago that his recent runs had been few and far between and that he’s had several loads canceled after he declined to lower his rate.

“I think I’ve moved about two loads, and I’ve had about six canceled on me simply because I wouldn’t reduce my rate,” Morine told Koppel. “And they just found another truck that would do it cheaper.”

The infrequency and low price of freight has led Morine to use his other skills to stay afloat during the pandemic.

“I’ve changed two transmissions for other people. I just finished a welding job,” Morine told Koppel. “I have additional ways to make income, but I’m an old-school trucker. I say that I came through the old-school way of trucking, and when I graduated from the old school they locked the doors and closed the school.”

On Monday, June 22, Morine told Land Line Now’s Scott Thompson that the old-school-trucker mentality will help him get through the economic crisis.

“When I say old school, I mean doing pretty much everything,” he said. “It’s not just getting in a truck and driving. It was essential that you would have to know your truck. People laugh at me, because I don’t even have a radio in my truck because I listen to my truck.”

Morine and Koppel also discussed the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program loans. Since the CBS interview, Morine received a loan for $6,800. However, the Louisiana trucker said owner-operators such as himself often find themselves in the back of the line for loans as “microbusinesses” with fewer than 10 employees are competing with small businesses with hundreds of employees.

“Most of us truck drivers are microbusinesses,” Morine told Land Line Now. “We say we’re small businesses, but we’re not. There’s no way we’re in competition with small businesses. When you’ve got one, two or three trucks, you’re not competing with what SBA calls a small business, who potentially has 100 trucks. … We can’t compete with those guys.”

In April, Morine appeared on CNBC and told host Frank Holland that he wasn’t able to acquire a PPP loan during SBA’s first round of funding.

“If small companies like myself can’t get the funding, then a lot will go out of business,” he said.

During his interview with Koppel, Morine showed a renewed sense of optimism that his business would survive the crisis.

“Absolutely, because that’s what we do,” Morine said. “When we break down on the side of the road and walk 4 to 6 miles to get what we need to fix our truck and still deliver our load in the morning and no one knows the difference, that’s what we do. We’re the modern-day cowboys.” LL

 

Land Line Now Senior Correspondent Scott Thompson contributed to this report.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.