Despite what is happening around the country with the coronavirus, for trucking companies, it’s business as usual.
Al DeMeester, the owner of Eagle Xpress, a trucking company based in Ludington, said there have been few changes.
A few truck stops are closed. The truck drivers carry disinfecting wipes. There is restricted access to the company’s buildings.
The precautions are “common sense,” DeMeetser said.
“We are trying to lower the odds. These are things people should be doing anyway,” he said.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order on Monday for people to stay home only impacts a small portion of the 30 employees at Eagle Xpress.
Eagle Xpress hauls paper and food products in 20 states and has branches in Tennessee and Kansas City.
The demand for the products the company ships has increased in recent weeks.
“There have been some (disruptions), but not much,” he said. “People need our stuff. Other than people watching for the trucks to (arrive), there isn’t much difference.”
Trucking companies have become sensitive to time pressures in the last 20 years, according to DeMeester.
“The trucking industry is trying to maintain,” he said.
Quick-Way, also located in Ludington, is still operating. The company delivers products for the chemical industry.
The products Quick-Way ships go to power plants, water treatment plants and major infrastructure projects, according to Barbara Wood, the responsive care and marketing manager.
Though Quick-Way has seen an increase in demand for products, the company typically sees an uptick in the spring, according to Wood.
The drivers, mechanics and tank wash technicians are considered essential workers under the governor’s executive order, she said. The other employees will be working from home.
The company has “ramped up safety efforts,” but otherwise drivers are operating as usual, Wood said.
Quick-Way drivers carry their own pens for signing documents and are following new policies for delivering, fueling and resting.
Some receiving companies have requested drivers stay inside their cabs, she said. Quick-Way is cooperating with these requests as much as possible.
There are trucking associations advocating for drivers.
The American Trucking Associations is working with the Federal Highway Administration and state governments to reopen rest stops that were closed.
“Driving truck isn’t an easy job, and truckers have basic needs just like the rest of us,” ATA posted on its website. “They need places to rest, places to eat and places to use the bathroom.
“This is about far more than comfort and convenience. These needs are fundamental to driver health and highway safety and must be met in order for goods to keep moving and reaching store shelves and hospital bays.”
“Their job has become even more difficult, and it requires them to be outside, practicing social distancing while still trying to do their job,” said Melissa Alvarado, general manager at Quick-Way. “They do not have the option to work from home.”