Former CEO of now-defunct Fikes files Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line contributing writer | 2/24/2016

It’s been nearly nine months since Fikes Truck Line’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Salisbury announced that his 74-year-old trucking company was ceasing operations in May 2015.

At that time, Salisbury told Land Line he had no plans to file for bankruptcy unless he was forced to by creditors. However, in mid-February, Salisbury filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation petition in federal court.

According to court documents, Salisbury lists between 50 and 90 creditors. He estimates both his assets and liabilities as between $500,000 and $1 million. Renee S. Williams has been named Fikes’ Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District in Arkansas.

In the bankruptcy petition, Salisbury lists his debts as being “primarily business debts.” Besides listing himself as a creditor, the petition also lists Salisbury’s businesses as creditors, including Fikes Truck Line, FTL Logistics LLC and FTL Transport Services Inc., all headquartered in Hope, Ark.

Zurich American Insurance Co., of Schaumburg, Ill., is also listed as a creditor. In October 2015, Fikes agreed to pay Zurich $95,000, plus attorneys’ fees and post-judgment interest, after Zurich filed a lawsuit against the trucking company over late workers compensation and employer’s liability insurance premiums.

Owner-operators leased to Fikes started calling the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s Business Services Department in early-May 2015, claiming their paychecks bounced. A day after Fikes’ closure was announced, owner-operators were again blindsided, receiving a handwritten note from management at Blair Logistics of Birmingham, Ala., about transitioning over to Blair.

Salisbury said he blames Fikes’ downward spiral, which started in 2008, on bad financial moves; on the housing bubble that burst; and on attempts to get in front of impending federal safety regulations by transitioning the flatbed fleet of owner-operators to electronic logs and satellite tracking systems. He cited those as key reasons the company failed.

Fikes was a member of The Trucking Alliance, along with J.B. Hunt, Knight, Maverick and Boyle and Dupre Logistics. The Trucking Alliance supports an electronic logging mandate, hair testing, speed limiters, a minimum insurance increase for trucking companies, and other regulatory measures. All are issues opposed by owner-operators.

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