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Recruiters ‘on Notice’ as Falcon Drivers Look for Jobs

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Within hours after Falcon Transport Co. told its 550 employees to stop work “immediately,” recruiters for other transportation companies started receiving inquiries from idled drivers looking for work.

When Aim NationaLease got the word on Sunday that Falcon was discontinuing operations, management put the whole recruiting department “on notice,” said Geoff Fleming, co-president. Aim has been fielding inquiries from drivers and posting job notices on hiring websites, he said.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to reach out to these workers,” Fleming said. “If they’ve got experience, a good record, we’ll find a home for them. We want to give these guys an opportunity.”

Aim has roughly 70 open positions across 50 accounts in 12 states, particularly Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan, Fleming said. The truck-leasing and transportation logistics company employs more than 1,200 at more than 100 operations from Chicago and eastward down to Georgia.

Dozens of other companies have posted to Falcon Transport’s Facebook page offering work. A few employees have posted there as well to air their frustrations. One employee, Richerd Byers, posted that he drove his truck home and parked it at a nearby truck stop. In his original post, Byers said he wasn’t paid and his fuel card had been deactivated.

“Someone will have to tow it off the property where it is located,” he posted. “And unless I’m FULLY PAID, the location of the truck is for you to find out.”

Recruiters at Aim are reaching out to the Falcon drivers the company has on file, Fleming said. In addition to its own recruiting efforts, Aim has advised other companies in the industry that there are people who are going to be looking, he said.

“I’m really hopeful that a driver can find another employment opportunity pretty quickly,” he said. “There’s a need for qualified drivers out there.”

In February, NPR reported numbers from the American Trucking Associations that indicate companies need some 60,000 drivers, and that number could surpass 100,000 in a few years. In March, the association stated that the prevailing problem was that carriers don’t have enough qualified drivers to meet the needs in the over-the-road or long-haul for-hire truckload segments.

“Carriers repeatedly say it isn’t that they don’t have enough applicants for their open positions – they do. What they do not have is enough applicants who meet the demanding qualifications to be hired,” said the association’s chief economist Bob Costello. “In some cases, carriers must reject 90% of applicants out of hand because they fail to meet at least one of the prerequisites to drive in interstate commerce.”

Such criteria includes dependability, reliability, customer service and a good driving record, as well as the ability to “handle the complexities of being a modern-day truck driver,” said Tom Banks, driver recruitment and retention manager at Nick Strimbu Inc.

Stable work history is important as well, with Strimbu looking for drivers who have been with a carrier for at least a year, Banks said. Those who switch two, three or four times yearly “doesn’t give me any type of assurance you’re going to do the same thing to us,” he said.

The field is highly competitive for drivers who meet that criteria and companies work to keep those drivers employed, Banks said. Strimbu invests time and money into its drivers and boasts a 30% turnover rate, a number that includes retirements and medical retirements. “The industry average for a company our size is 95% to 100% annually,” he said.

To court qualified drivers from Falcon, Strimbu is offering the first sign-on bonus payment of $750 up front at the completion of training, rather than after the typical six-month mark, said its director of operations and IT, Cory Knowlton. The offer is for any Falcon driver out of work, he said, and the company will expedite the hiring process as much as possible.

Aim is offering signing bonuses as well, Fleming said. The two companies are hoping to ease the financial burden of any Falcon drivers hired.

“With the company shutting down like that, one of my biggest concerns is guys getting back home,” Banks said. “They’re spread all over the country and they need to figure out how they’re getting back home safely. Some of them actually have customer freight on the back of the truck.”

Banks has seen “a lot of local response” offering parking for rigs to drivers who are local until they can figure out how to get home, he said. 

Strimbu has been receiving inquiries for jobs since Sunday, he said. The company has an “ongoing need” for drivers and plans to increase its freight capacities this year as it expands. Banks looks to hire 10 to 12 drivers this year, he said.

“We’re actually in a growth mode,” he said. “I would like anywhere between 93 and 95 company drivers by the end of the year.”

Strimbu serves the eastern half of the United States, so drivers are back every week, he said. “We try to keep drivers close enough so they can get back in case of emergency.”

Founded in 1903, Falcon was a transportation logistics company with flatbed and over-the-road services for clients including General Motors, Ford, Nexteer, Arcelor Mittal and U.S. Steel. In 2017, it was purchased CounterPoint Capital Partners.

Related Coverage: Abrupt Shutdown of Falcon Transport Idles 550

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.