USF Holland merges two West Michigan sites

May 5, 2009
| By Pete Daly |
Print
Text Size:
A A

HOLLAND — USF Holland, the descendant of an 80-year-old Holland trucking company that is now part of one of the nation's largest trucking conglomerates, will be closing its terminal there, with all its trucks based in West Michigan now operating out of the USF Holland terminal in Grand Rapids.

The president of USF Holland, Jeff Rogers, said there will "probably" be job cuts later among its West Michigan drivers, but he emphasized that there will be no changes at the corporate headquarters, which employs more than 200.

USF Holland has more than 63 local service centers in 14 states and two Canadian provinces, with more than 8,000 trailers, 4,500 tractors and 7,200 employees. USF Holland has recently had annual revenues of more than $1.4 billion, according to the company Web site.

USF Holland, previously known as USFreightways, became part of YRC Worldwide in 2005. YRC, which recently merged Yellow Transportation and Roadway, is headquartered in Overland Park, Kan.

The Kansas City Star reported about a month ago that YRC Worldwide would eliminate 600 nonunion jobs, in part because of the merger of Yellow and Roadway and also due to the slow economy. It also reported that USF Holland, YRC's biggest regional carrier, would be closing 11 terminals and eliminating 350 jobs throughout its region.

Rogers said the number of job losses resulting from the closure of the Holland terminal won't be known until the company works out the matter with the Teamsters Union. Normally there are more than 30 trucks operating every day out of the Holland terminal and more than 60 from the Grand Rapids terminal, but now, he said, "There will definitely be less trucks on the road every day between the two areas."

A spokesman for the Teamsters Union local in Grand Rapids said there are about 300 union members normally employed in West Michigan by USF Holland, but some of those are already on layoff.

"Every transportation company right now is struggling with the economy. The freight environment has been in recession for almost three years, even though the broader economy has only been struggling for a couple of years," said Rogers.

"In this scenario, there will be no change to the customer because of what we are doing with Holland and Grand Rapids (terminals). Every customer will be serviced just the same: It will just be picked up and delivered out of a different location," he said.

Business volumes in the trucking industry are "significantly lower today than it was, say, three years ago," said Rogers.

"Our corporate office is staying right here. We're not making any changes to the corporate office." He noted that the USF Holland corporate headquarters has been in that city for 80 years.

Rogers said USF Holland does not plan to divest itself of the Holland terminal, "in the hope that it's a short-term (downsizing) and things get better."

"These changes are difficult," said Rogers, adding that the move will reduce costs and maintain competitiveness.

Walt Heinritzi, executive director of the Michigan Trucking Association, said the trucking industry in Michigan is probably worse off than in other states because "trucking services manufacturing — and when manufacturing is on a downward slope, so is trucking."

He noted that some well-known Michigan trucking companies have gone out of business, such as Alvan Motor Freight in Kalamazoo last year.

"We're just seeing a continuing consolidation of the industry and some downsizing right now, because of the economic down-cycle we're in," said Heinritzi.

Fuel prices now are a relief to the trucking industry, compared to last summer when diesel was close to $5 a gallon.

"From a broader economic perspective, low fuel prices help everybody. We're seeing some of that same benefit" in the trucking industry, said Rogers.

Recent Articles by Pete Daly

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus