SBA loans help carriers cope with coronavirus fallout
They came with masks and gloves. Some brought their children to give them a lesson at home on the road.
Allen Farms in Norman, Oklahoma, became much more popular during the pandemic where retail sales of sod have skyrocketed.
“Before the weather even broke a bit, the phone was ringing off the hook,” said Kevin Andrews, owner of Allen Farms, which also owns an auto haulage business whose roughly half of its revenue fell during the guidelines. shelter in place provided. on by COVID-19[female[feminine.
Andrews trucks will deliver sod when people order 10 or more pallets. Social distancing applies to the store where people have to place orders and pay over the phone with a credit card. Deliveries can also become interesting.
“I made a delivery last week. We went to a lady’s house and she wasn’t even there, ”Andrews said. “She just told me what to do on the phone and I delivered her weed to her.” I have never seen her. Left him a copy of his receipt under the grass and left.
Commercial sales are also underway at Allen Farms, but it’s the record retail sales that really stand out. Lots of grass spread over 90 acres isn’t quite at its best, Andrews said, but it’s still a sore eye sight for those who feel like getting out and going to work.
“People bring their kids there because we have a big open space,” Andrews said. “We see people with masks and gloves who are completely crazy. They don’t stay at home. They just go to an open place and they want something to do.
Andrews said he even overheard a woman teaching her children about the sod farm – a home lesson that has to stay outside since the store closed.
For Andrews’ car haulage company Dave Meeker Auto, the business has been the opposite.
“What we’re seeing is we’re running around 50%,” Andrews said. “Last Monday morning we billed around 60-65% of our standard. This week we charged around 45%.
Car dealers don’t sell as much, which has slowed the trucks down. Based in Purcell, Oklahoma, Dave Meeker Auto has a dispatcher in Branson, Missouri, and a brokerage office in Pensacola, Florida.
“We’re quite diverse because the pilots live everywhere,” said Andrews.
Most of Andrews’ drivers are owner-operators based in Branson, where the company was born. Normally 20 to 25 trucks would be transported to Andrews. Some are waiting at home for the pandemic while others are still taking the road where Andrews said the used car market has seen more business than new sales.
“We mainly transport used cars. We don’t carry a lot of new stuff. We do. And so, as a used car transporter, we are not as badly affected as the new car hauliers. But that said, we’re still limited to different types of things, ”Andrews explained. “For example, we continue to go to new car dealers. These are used cars. So they’re limited on sales and things like that. We are also limited to a lot of our auctions that we go out because they either have shortened hours or are closed on weekends.
To help make ends meet, Andrews turned to the US Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and was approved for a loan.
“It’s basically going to buy me two months of extra income for downtime, and if it does the same for everyone, then I’ll be fine,” he said.
The blues run deeper than the Depression
Chris Olson, owner of SOS Transportation in Carlton, Oregon, has been transporting since the 1970s for special events such as concerts, plays and trade shows. Today, for the first time, he sees all his trucks and those of his competitors come to a sudden stop.
“It’s weird parking all the trucks. They’re just parked, ”Olson said.
And unlike the Great Depression of the 1930s, when people flocked to the movies to escape their woes for pennies per show, movie theaters rolled out their red carpets, as did concerts, plays, trade shows, and more. special events. Suddenly, a niche market in which carriers could operate died out completely with national shelter-in-place guidelines.
Olson’s dry vans, like others in his field, are specialized. Still, he considered hauling freight to help pick up the slack – until the guy on the phone offered him a ridiculous dollar-a-mile rate to haul from California to Iowa and New York.
“My guys are on salary. I have to pay them every day they work. So between their per diem and their salary, they earn $ 230 per day, ”Olson said. “In addition, there is fuel. We have very high insurance. $ 10 million liability. $ 2 million in freight. And the trailers are quite specialized. We’re just not designed to carry freight and it doesn’t even pay well enough to generate cash flow. “
For the first time since hitting the road as a truck driver in the early 1970s, Olson said he turned to the government for help. Like Andrews, Olson’s company was also approved for an SBA loan. However, he is uncomfortable with massive government assistance nationwide.
“I don’t think we should mortgage the country and our children’s future when we can put everyone to work. Test them every day and if they get sick send them home, ”Olson said. “Old people like me, if I care, then I should stay home. But turning off the country, it bothers me.
Turns out Andrews and Olson applied for and got their business loans just before they dried up. The SBA said Thursday it was “unable to accept new applications for the paycheck protection program based on available credits.” The $ 349 billion first-come, first-served program ran out of cash in less than two weeks.
Olson, who favors Kenworth trucks, hopes to get his ten rigs back to work in July for a big gig. So far, the event has not been canceled.
“We’ll see. I’m old. I would go to work if I had the chance,” said Olson. “If I get the stuff and it kills me, then it kills me. We have to get the country going again.”