As published in The NJBIZ Daily News, story by Lori Campos.
Dave Gorman, the executive vice president at Pinnacle Freight Systems in Florence, started with the most important issue for the company while a winter storm dropped a foot or snow (or more) on various parts of the state Tuesday.
“All of our drivers are safe,” he said. “We made the decision yesterday to pull all of our (local) drivers off the road.
“When we run into a situation like this, safety is the first priority. It’s paramount: for our drivers, for our employees, for other motorists — in no particular order. Safety comes first.”
And while bad weather is a part of the industry, it always comes at a price.
Gorman says Pinnacle, annually one of the fastest-growing companies in the state, will lose “over six figures” in revenue from the storm.
“It’s not insignificant,” he said. “We have fixed costs in this business, and when you have no revenue going against it, you feel it. This is really challenging to transportation companies of all types.”
Gorman said the company took all the necessary steps it could to prepare for the storm.
For starters, any of the dozen or so local drivers who had the ability to take an empty trailer home Monday night did so.
“We wanted to be in a position where, if there were areas where the weather wasn’t as bad, we could reach customers,” he said.
Meanwhile, back at the Florence headquarters, employees made sure to clear areas around the loading docks of Pinnacle’s 100,000-square-foot warehouse, enabling plows to better clear the areas when they could.
They also made sure to keep access to giant wheeled step ladder setups that allow them to clear snow off of the roofs of the tractor-trailers that remained at the yard — an important consideration, considering trucking companies can face huge fines for having snow blowing off the tops of their trailers.
And, while the local drivers and all but three of the two dozen office and dock employees stayed home, there still was work to be done.
Gorman said 75 percent of the company’s long-haul drivers — some of whom they rushed to get out early Monday — already are in other parts of the country, where they are clear of snow.
In the coming days, Gorman and Pinnacle will work to catch up on loads, but he said there’s no making up for the lost day.
“You adjust where you can adjust,” he said. “But there’s only so much you can do.”
The biggest thing, Gorman said, is communication.
“We alert our companies that normal transit times will be impacted,” he said. “We ask for their patience, tell them what we’re going to do and how safety is paramount.
“We ask for flexibility. If a load was supposed to get there on Thursday, it may come on Friday. If it was due Friday, it may be put off to Monday.”
Gorman said he doesn’t expect pushback.
“People who are in this business know and understand,” he said. “This isn’t a surprise for them.”
The storm, however, was a bit of surprise, considering the calendar.
Gorman said he thought the company had got through the winter relatively unscathed.
That being said, Gorman hopes this March storm does have one silver lining.
“We’re hoping this is winter’s last gasp,” he said.
Editor Tom Bergeron contributed to this report.