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How Not To Go Out Of Business (February 01, 2010)

I think every business manager should have to take a course on going out of business with dignity. We've seen many examples of companies going under through this recession. Some have done it the right...


I think every business manager should have to take a course on going out of business with dignity. We’ve seen many examples of companies going under through this recession. Some have done it the right way, by notifying customers and employees and then winding down operations in an orderly manner.

Others have just disappeared, locked the doors and let disgruntled ex-employees, stiffed suppliers and neglected customers spread the word for them. I’ve heard many horror stories. One company apparently put its entire facility up for sale while its employees were still laid off indefinitely and patiently awaiting their return to work. One such employee told me he was browsing through his local paper and saw that his workplace was up for sale, and that’s how he found out he no longer had a job to return to.

Of all the closures and bankruptcies that this devastating recession has left in its wake, the sudden shutdown of Arrow Trucking in the States takes the cake.

Just three days before Christmas, the 1,400-truck fleet suddenly ceased operations, leaving as many as 1,000 drivers scattered across the country with suspended fuel cards and instructions only to turn their truck in to the nearest dealership.

Some of these drivers were literally living in their trucks and effectively left homeless. Others had no way to get themselves or their gear (they were flatdeckers) home, although Freightliner and Navistar were offering $200 travel vouchers and/or Greyhound bus tickets in exchange for their rigs. It was truly a nightmare.

But this story does have a happy ending. As word of Arrow’s demise spread, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and staff of its Land Line magazine set into action, establishing a Facebook site to help connect stranded Arrow drivers with others who could offer them a ride.

Big fleets such as Swift and Schneider instructed their drivers via their in-cab communications devices to assist any Arrow drivers in need of help and to give them a lift if they’re headed in their direction.

The Facebook site went viral, as the kids say, and overnight had blossomed to over 1,000 postings offering assistance ranging from rides to warm meals, showers and in some cases even a few bucks.

The Arrow incident demonstrated a few things. One, to repeat my opening line, every business manager should be trained on how to go out of business tactfully and with class. Professors could even use Arrow as an example on how not to do it.

The other thing the Arrow closure demonstrated was that social media is an increasingly important medium, yes, even for professional drivers. Had it not been for the quick-thinking -James Menzies can be reached by phone at (416) 510-6896 or by e-mail at jmenzies@trucknews.com.You can also follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/JamesMenzies.


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