Thursday, March 3, 2011 – As many as 240 drivers for R.L. Carter Trucking Inc., based out of Clayton, IN, received grim news late Wednesday that their company was suspending operations that same day. Some were under loads and were running low on fuel when they received word that as of 3:15 p.m. Wednesday the company was shutting its doors for good.
Many in the trucking world remember when hundreds of drivers for Arrow Trucking of Tulsa, OK, were stranded across the country just days before Christmas in 2009, under loads with no fuel and few options on how to get home.
However, in this case, it appears that R.L. Carter drivers will be getting the help they need after all.
The Transportation Alliance Bank, based in Ogden, UT, has stepped up to help stranded R.L. Carter drivers get their loads delivered and also make it home.
Curtis Sutherland, director of accounts receivable financing operations for TAB, told Land Line that a special number has been set up for R.L. Carter drivers to call for more information.
“We are encouraging drivers to call 877-664-5504 and have their TCH numbers ready so we can go ahead and load their cards with fuel money,” Sutherland said. “Unfortunately, I have heard the drivers haven’t had any contact with the Carters. It’s a bad situation, unfortunately, but we are willing to help.”
He said TAB received permission from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Southern District of Indiana judge and from other creditors to help secure the equipment and to aid the drivers.
Sutherland said that if the driver is under load, TAB will pay the drivers 35 cents per mile to complete delivery, and the same rate to bobtail home and secure the equipment. In most cases, he said they are allowing R.L. Carter drivers to drive their trucks home and remove their personal belongings before turning them over to the dealership.
Sutherland said he estimated between 80 to 85 drivers are still “out there in the field, trying to complete their deliveries.”
Former R.L. Carter driver Enrico Cottom of Phoenix, AZ, was about 840 miles from home when he received word that the company was shutting down. Cottom said he knew the company was struggling as several of his paychecks had bounced in the past few weeks.
However, about three weeks ago he was at the company’s headquarters in Clayton, IN, and said he met personally with owner, Robin Carter.
“I looked him in the eye and said, ‘Hey, are we going to make it,’” Cottom told Land Line on Thursday. “He told me to just hang in there with him for another three weeks and we would come out of this, so I did, and this is what happened.”
Cottom, who has a wife and five daughters, hasn’t received a paycheck for the past three weeks. He had only enough fuel to go another 100 miles when he received word that TAB was going to cover his fuel costs to get him home. By 11 a.m., Cottom had refueled and was back on the road.
Back in September 2010, the company had filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition and was reorganizing. However on March 2, the company ceased operation and the case was converted to Chapter 7 liquidation.
– Land Line Staff contributed to this report.