As Celadon rumors swirl, rival companies flock to drivers

December 8, 2019

Mark Schremmer

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Amid the panic from reports that Celadon will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week, recruiters for rival trucking companies are eagerly trying to hire the company’s drivers.

The Facebook group, Celadon Closure Assistance and Jobs, on Sunday was flooded with posts from trucking companies offering assistance to drivers who might be stranded and, in many cases, offer employment.

Following last week’s news of two Celadon executives being indicted for their alleged role in a fraud scheme worth tens of millions of dollars, rumors swirled that fuel cards were being shut off and that drivers were being stranded. According to an FMCSA company snapshot, Celadon employs 2,533 truck drivers and owns 2,711 tractors.

Efforts to obtain confirmation on the bankruptcy filing and the reports of drivers being stranded were unsuccessful Sunday. Scott Olson with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development confirmed via email on Sunday that as of Friday, Dec. 6, Celadon had not filed a WARN Act notice indicating the company’s intention to shut down.

When reached by phone on Sunday, Tom Burck, Celadon’s vice president of safety, said he was not authorized to comment before hanging up. A Land Line email to Celadon CEO Paul Svinland also was not returned as of Sunday afternoon. Additionally, customer service representatives at the company’s Indiana headquarters declined to comment on the reports.

No official word

Scott Riley, a driver for Celadon from Anderson, Ind., said he was home on Sunday and had received no official word from the company.

“Officially, the company isn’t saying anything,” Riley said. “Unofficially, a supervisor in my division gave my name to two other companies that I was one of their top drivers.”

Riley, who said he was told by two other drivers that their fuel cards were turned off, made it home for the weekend without any problems. He said he was spending his time on Sunday cleaning his truck out and expecting to turn in the keys on Monday.

“I’m going to take the truck back to Indianapolis, and my wife is going to follow me,” Riley said. “I will talk to the supervisors, and see what they tell me.”

Meanwhile, Teddy’s Trucker’s Association, a nonprofit aimed at improving the lives of truckers and their families, started the Celadon Closure Assistance and Jobs Facebook group to help drivers.

“It just brings tears to my eyes how many people are supporting the drivers,” said Bridgette Reinsmith, an administrator for the Facebook group. “Tons of people are losing their jobs through no fault of their own.”

Reinsmith said individuals and companies have reached out to help drivers get back home or find a new job.

The group includes more than a dozen posts from trucking companies recruiting Celadon drivers. There are also posts from drivers who said everything is business as usual and from drivers who said their fuel cards were shut off and they were stranded. As of Sunday, Land Line was unable to confirm those reports.

What to do

In the case that a driver is stranded, Dale Watkins, manager of OOIDA’s Business Services Department, said that drivers should try to do what is requested if the company asks you to park the truck in a certain place.

“Be prepared to park the truck somewhere and go home,” Watkins said. “I’d make sure I had some cash for a bus ticket home. I can’t emphasize enough to make sure you have enough cash to get yourself home.

“If fuel cards are shut down and you have a load, contact the receiver to see if they can get money for fuel to you so they can get your load.”

Watkins also advised drivers in this situation to pull all money off the fuel cards in case the cards are shut down.

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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.