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.”