Sat, March 02, 2024

Uncertain economy creates a nightmare for a local trucking company

The past couple of years has been a nightmare for trucking companies, especially the smaller outfits like Jax Transportation in Aiken.

“Our business dropped off 87 percent when covid shut down everything, owner Dean Cavero said. “It was a fiasco when goods weren’t moving. It took six months for us to see any relief.”

He also owns Phoenix One Logistics which oversees the heavy haul logistics for Jax. But there wasn’t much hauling going on at that time. Now that the trucks are rolling again comes a new set of problems.

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“We’re paying 64 percent more for fuel than last year to keep our trucks moving,” Cavero said. “To fill up just one of those big rigs, which hold 300 gallons of diesel, costs between $1,500 to $1,600.”

Cavero has been in the trucking business for 21 years, the past 15 as an owner. He’s no stranger to weathering storms.

“The 2008 recession was rough,” he said. “The fallout from covid was hard on our company and the drivers I employ. By far, this is the most challenging time in Jax Transportation’s history.”

Much of their business involves port hauling of road construction equipment and other heavy manufacturing equipment. Shipping backups at major U.S. ports, and the resulting goods shortages and price surges, are not likely to be resolved any time soon, according to economists.

Jax Transportation owner, Dean Cavero has won numerous awards for safety in the trucking industry.

That creates even more problems for Cavero and other trucking company owners.

“To keep our trucks maintained and running, it’s a big problem when we must wait several weeks to get parts,” he explained. “For example, if one of our trucks needs a fuel injector and I buy it from a third-party vendor, it voids the warranty and it’s another out-of-pocket cost.”

During the time the truck isn’t hauling, drivers can’t work and goods can’t be moved. All these challenges combined create yet more problems.

“Customers think our costs are insane and I cringe giving them the invoice,” he said. “I’m cutting into our margins as much as possible to give them a break.”

The pressures are feeding into the economy, putting constraints on everything from grocery stores to big manufacturers. Prices for consumer and wholesale goods are going up.

Cavero is hoping parts availability gets better and fuel costs come down but for now, he is trying to diversify by finding other goods to haul.

“I know trucking companies that have gone under in other parts of the country,” he said. “I want to do right by our customers and look for ways to set us apart. In the meantime, our drivers have families to feed, so we’re trying to adapt and overcome. It’s essential.”

Editor’s Note:
Mitzi Oxford is a veteran broadcaster and features writer who also worked at the same television station in Columbus, Georgia as Augusta’s Brad Means! 

If you have a South Carolina story idea for Mitzi, please email her at mitzioxfordcreative@gmail.com.

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