For the second time in less than a week, a trucking carrier has shut its doors with no advanced warning. According to media reports in Alabama, Dothan-based Williams Trucking told its drivers on Wednesday to finish deliveries and then return to headquarters to clean out their belongings.
According to a driver who spoke anonymously to WDHN TV in Alabama, the closure was a complete surprise.
“We were rolling already, but (I) got that message and listened to it and I had to pull over and make sure I was listening to what I was listening to,” the driver told WDHN.
Calls by FreightWaves to Williams’ office went unanswered and email requests for comment to company officials had not been returned as of publication.
On April 27, 2019, Falcon Transport, a flatbed company based in Ohio with over 500 drivers, suddenly closed its doors, leaving drivers stranded. Williams was not as large; its website said it had 20 company trucks and 14 owner-operators, although a Facebook commenter said it was entirely owner-operators.
Official Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records indicate the company has 48 power units and 48 drivers that totaled 5.1 million miles in 2017.
Founded in 1994 by John and Wanda Knopp as a single-truck operation, Williams quickly grew, specializing in the hauling of flatbed freight, mostly shingles and poles, according to its website.
A separate Facebook comment indicated the company had a poor maintenance track record. The website listed its truck models as 2012 Volvo VNL 630s and 2013 Freightliner Cascadias. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) SAFER website, Williams’ trucks had received 24 vehicle out-of-service notices in the past 24 months, out of 74 total inspections, for a 32.4 percent out-of-service rate. An additional 5 drivers were placed out of service.
FMCSA also recorded two crashes with injuries resulting and four additional crashes that required the vehicle to be towed.
Alabama companies are expected to follow the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act) when layoffs affected more than 50 people are anticipated. The act requires 60 days notice for employees. It is unclear whether Williams Trucking employed more than 50 and was required to follow the provisions of the act.