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Tennessee-based trucking company ceases operations after 69 years (with video)

Greg Baer, owner of Howard Baer Inc., decided to close shop, says “trucking just isn’t worth it anymore.”

Refrigerated carrier Howard Baer Inc. ceases operations after 69 years. Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

[vimeo-autoplay video-id=”391232298″]

Family-owned Howard Baer Inc. of Nashville, Tennessee, ceased operations Jan. 31, citing government regulations, the ongoing struggle to find qualified drivers and soaring insurance costs as the main reasons behind the company’s decision to close after 69 years.

Owner Greg Baer told FreightWaves he made the decision to retire and wind down operations after his son decided he didn’t want to take over the family business Greg’s dad started back in 1951.

The shuttered refrigerated carrier had nearly 200 drivers in April 2018, according to its last filing with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, but the company was down to around 35 drivers at the time of its closure.

“Trucking just isn’t worth it anymore,” Baer told FreightWaves. “The government has piled on so many regulations on these drivers that most young people don’t want to become truck drivers.”

Baer said he lost his best drivers when the federal electronic logging device (ELD) mandate took effect in December 2017.

“My drivers said, ‘We are older and tired and just want to retire instead of dealing with ELDs,’” he said. “I couldn’t blame them.”

Lawsuits and soaring insurance costs also factored into Baer’s decision.

“I hope all of those ambulance chasers burn in hell,” he said.

Over the past 24 months, Howard Baer Inc. trucks had been inspected 90 times and 26 were placed out of service, according to the FMCSA SAFER website. Its trucks were involved in seven crashes, including one fatal wreck, over the same two-year period.

Greg Baer said Hogan Transport, headquartered in St. Louis, is leasing the shuttered carrier’s building in Nashville and hired most of its remaining drivers.

A skeleton crew is still working to collect accounts receivable owed to the company, but the plan is to completely wind down operations in the next few weeks.

“We’re not broke, but it’s just not worth running anymore,” Baer told FreightWaves. “I want to retire and spend more time with my grandchildren.”

Read more articles by FreightWaves’ Clarissa Hawes


  1. Lee Townsend

    For the ELD situation over half of those DOT officers don’t know nothing about the maintenance of a truck nor the regulations so they are putting false information on carriers reports. And the cause for high insurance rates are the result of greedy lawsuits from slick attorneys suing trucking companies. and Congress are full of slick attorneys trying to increase liability limits $ 1,000,000 to $ 3,000,000

    1. Jason Miller

      Could we please be a bit more polite on these discussion threads? We are all professionals here who are passionate about the industry. I would suggest that if you have a complaint about how the story was written or some of the other folks on the thread that you spell out your concerns in a more cogent, respectful manner. That will facilitate a more productive exchange of ideas.

  2. Bill Enderland

    At a time when government regulations should be relaxed in order to reflect the Mexican competition our regulations are steadily increasing. President Trump needs to continue to drain the swamp until people who actually care about this nations economy and jobs help swing the pendulum back.
    The swamp consist of anti business liberals and deep state republicans who want to run the country from leather arm chairs without the annoying winning of elections. . Wake up America!!!
    Don’t ever forget that 95% of the products we use every day are delivered across the nation by truck or train.

  3. Bobbie

    We need more government and more law suits to put more companies out of business and hurt more working people good job jack booted thugs of government

  4. Jason Miller

    I agree with the folks who have pointed out that much of the blame for rising insurance costs stems from this carrier’s chronic history of poor HOS performance, coupled with the recent spate of accidents. If you look up their DOT number in SMS (DOT# 71062), you will see that their HOS Compliance BASIC score has routinely been above 1.0 (which is very poor for a carrier of this size), and as of December 2019 was sitting at 0.97, which is not good in the ELD era. As part of my prior research that has focused on the safety compliance of large, for-hire motor carriers, I have utilized data from this carrier. Relative to the population (980 carriers in total) of large, for-hire carriers (at least 100 power units), their averaged HOS Compliance score for for December 2012, December 2014, and December 2016 put them in the 98.9th percentile (with higher percentiles being bad). Their Unsafe Driving BASIC score has also been on the rise, from 1.85 in June 2017 to 2.78 as of June 2019.

    Also, good job to Clarissa Hawes for checking the company’s safety history and including it in the new article! This provided much needed context for understanding the closure.

    1. JD

      This is all true, but one thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that the accidents may not have been the company’s fault. Regardless of who is at fault, an accident can go on your score and hurt you across the board. Our company was in a situation a few years ago.. We are a small company with less than 20 trucks, but we probably had 10 accidents or so on our score. Out of all those accidents (including one fatality), we were only found to be at fault in one of them. Our insurance was canceled and the one that did offer us a quote was outrageous. We made it through the tough times, but it wasn’t always easy. Due to all those accidents on our score, the officers on the street began to look at us more and also resulted in a DOT audit. Also, who can control drivers? It is difficult to find good drivers and hard to fire someone that is caught running 61 in a 55 mph zone by a DOT officer. If you could pick and choose drivers, it would make it much easier.

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Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 14 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Before joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and If you have a news tip or story idea, send her an email to [email protected]