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C.H. Robinson lays off about 650 employees

CEO: ‘Got ahead of ourselves’ in head count, didn’t expect freight markets to cool this fast

C.H. Robinson plans large layoffs, sources say (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the number of layoffs confirmed by the company. 

Truck brokerage giant C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. laid off approximately 650 employees this week, the company confirmed Thursday. Sources close to the situation originally estimated the number would be closer to 1,000, possibly up to 1,200.

The move comes a week after the Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based company (NASDAQ: CHRW) reported weaker-than-expected, third-quarter results and strongly hinted at impending labor cost reductions to combat the impact of slowing demand and increased costs.

“We got ahead of ourselves in terms of head count,” said Bob Biesterfeld, Robinson’s president and CEO, on a post-earnings call. Robinson employs nearly 17,000 people.

Biesterfeld said he did not forecast truckload demand declining as rapidly as it did, as well as spot market and contract rates deflating considerably.

In a statement Wednesday night, the company said:


“As we said last week in our Q3 earnings, changes in market conditions, coupled with many successful endeavors on our digital roadmap directed at scaling our model to be more efficient, mean we are in a position to reduce our overall cost structure.

“As a result, we’re eliminating some positions at C.H. Robinson. These are not easy decisions, because we recognize the significant contribution of the impacted employees. We have tried to approach this with as much respect and empathy for our former colleagues as possible and are providing transition assistance.”

In late February, Robinson entered into a cooperation agreement with Ancora Holdings Group LLC, an activist investor group. It also named Henry Maier, a former CEO of FedEx Ground, the U.S. ground delivery unit of FedEx Corp., (NYSE: FDX) and Jay Winship, a financial executive, as independent directors.

In addition, Robinson’s board formed a four-member capital allocation and planning committee, which the company said would recommend capital allocation, operations and strategies, including enhanced transparency and disclosures to shareholders. The panel is chaired by Winship and initially includes Scott Anderson, the company’s chairman, as well as Biesterfeld and Maier.

30 Comments

  1. Sabrina Johnson

    I’ve been so stressed out by this, I can barely afford to buy food or pay mortgage. I’m behind on all my bills I’m scared to get a loan. Prices of fuel went up but our pay has decreased. I feel it’s really not fair because people In power are not affected, so they make decisions that affects us I’m sick of it I wish people in power will work and live the lives their forcing us to live. Get out here a do the work we do. Their asking us to take loads for free. Give is a unlimited fuel card and pay us a reasonable amount. I have too many things to pay for, $3000 truck financing, $2800 truck insurance, fuel tax, tires, maintenance, $340 oil change not including car note, car insurance, house mortgage. Utility bills. Why do they want us to lose so bad. What about our children. I haven’t bought my kids shoes in months. I’m tired of suffering I need help I need money I need work, and a minimum wage job is not going to help me. Even $27 dollars an hour doesn’t help. If their not willing to live like this than why should we.

  2. Sabrina Johnson

    I’ve been so stressed out by this, I can barely afford to buy for or pay mortgage. I’m behind on all my bills I’m scared to get a loan. Prices of fuel went up but our pay has decreased. I feel it’s really not fair because people In power are not affected, so they make decisions that affects us I’m sick of it I wish people in power will work and live the live their forcing us to live. Get out here a do the work we do. Their asking us to take loads for free. Give is a unlimited fuel card and pay us a reasonable amount. I have too many things to pay for, $3000 truck financing, $2800 truck insurance, fuel tax, tires, maintenance, $340 oil change not including car note, car insurance, house mortgage. Utility bills. Why they want us to lose so bad. What about out children. I haven’t bought my kids shoes in months. I’m tired of suffering I need help I need money I need work, and a minimum wage job is not going to help me. Even $27 dollars an hour doesn’t help. If their not willing to live like this why should we.

  3. Ted stang

    1 qualification should be CDL. They then know what they’re talking about. Like politicians should have minimum 2 years military experience. They then know what they’re talking about.

  4. Kirk

    “is laying off between 1,000 and 1,200 employees, most of whom are at the vice president and general manager level,”

    That’s a lot of VPs and General Managers for a trucking company

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