Celadon closure weeks before Christmas impacts shipping industry, economy

Data pix.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A major closure is hitting the trucking industry in one of the busiest times of the year.

The Indianapolis-based Celadon group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, taking over 3,000 trucks off the street and leaving 4,000 employees jobless.

"Merry Christmas… now go find a job,” truck driver Marcus Dooley said while standing outside the chain locked doors at Celadon's Eastside facility.

The bankruptcy comes in the midst of scandal. Two former executives have been charged in a fraud scheme.

"The people who caused all this, I hope there's a special place in hell for them because they deserve it,” said truck driver Alfred Bertschy, who also lost his job.

"The general public probably doesn't understand how big this really is—this is huge,” he said.

The closure has a big impact on the economy as a whole. John Paugh is the president and CEO of Carter Logistics in Anderson. He says his company has already been asked to take on a bigger load by some companies.

"It's one of the worst times of the year because it's Christmas, and there's already a rush for shipping," Paugh said. "So to have a carrier that large go out is really going to affect the market.”

Paugh believes in the short term it’s likely shipping costs could go up 10% in the Midwest.

“I think we're going to maybe have some delays in shipments, I think you're going to see the cost of shipments go up,” Paugh said.

Paugh says his company has been helping stranded drivers get home, and the company is also hiring. He says for drivers out of work, there’s plenty of opportunity. Some companies even showed up at Celadon to recruit drivers.

“The guys who have been driving for a while, who have good driving records, good trucks, we can find jobs right away,” Bertschy said. "On Saturday I talked to another company in Chicago so I already got another job... Filled out my application today and I'm already approved, and on Wednesday I'll be in orientation.”

However, others haven't had the same luck.

"I've got some feelers out there, but it's slow moving," Dooley said. "I don't know from here on out.”

Paugh says Carter Logistics is even offering Celadon drivers a signing bonus for two weeks pay to cover time lost between jobs. He says his company has also been helping Celadon drivers who were stuck get home.

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