Texas Carrier Calls it Quits After More Than 20 Years in Business
Odessa, TX – A Texas carrier is calling it quits and shutting its doors after more than twenty years in business.
Odessa, TX-based WIT Transportation will no longer be hauling freight and will soon wind down all business operations.
Matt Benton, owner of WIT, tells Transportation Nation Network (TNN) the decision to shut down was a difficult one, but the “freight downturn” in the oil and gas industry was too much to overcome.
“We’ve been slow for about six months,” Benton said. “Our overall sales just went in the tank.”
Benton founded the specialized carrier in 1999 to help residential and commercial clients in Odessa and Midland, TX, who are in the process of relocating, as well as oilfield companies in need of transportation services.
WIT primarily hauled heavy and oversized loads for the oil and gas industry, which is a highly competitive and often brutal business.
He says he’s been through challenging and even “much worse” times before and made it, so he continued to believe the company would pull through the recent rough patch.
For example, he recalled the market downturn in 2008 when after building the company to 50 trucks, he was forced to reduce the truck count all the way down to “just one.”
However, he and his team were able to fight their way back to more than two dozen trucks, until recently.
The final straw was a disastrous February, Benton says.
“Last February we did over $700,000 in revenue and this February we did less than $250,000.”
Echoing the sentiments of many other trucking executives, Benton also acknowledged rising insurance costs also played a role.
“Insurance is always a problem,” he commented.
Benton broke the news to his drivers on Thursday, many of whom he says have been with the company “a long time.”
He indicated about half of the remaining 25 drivers were owner operators and the other half were company drivers.
One of those company drivers is 49-year-old Mary Morgan, of Albuquerque, NM.
Morgan has only been with WIT since October of last year, but has 28 years of professional driving experience.
She tells TNN she was disappointed when she received the news.
“I was a little upset,” she said. “I did not expect this to happen.”
Morgan moved to Midland last year and says she visited many trucking companies in hopes of landing a job, but no one would hire her because she did not have experience working in the oilfields.
However, WIT gave her that chance and she says she will always be grateful.
“Matt [Benton] stuck his neck out and gave me the chance to get that experience. He gave me a chance when no one else would. I felt like I was home.”
Like Morgan, Benton is also still reeling from the sudden closure and wondering what he could have done to keep things afloat.
“I’ve been asking myself that question,” he pondered.
Even so, he says he wanted to go out on his own terms.
“Nobody forced our hand on the deal. We just brought the trucks in and cancelled everything.”
According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in the prior 24 months, WIT reported two accidents with one involving injury and tow-away.
No fatal accidents were reported.
The company’s vehicle inspection out of service (OOS) rate stood at 28.1% which is moderately above the industry average of 20.72%.
It’s driver inspection OOS rate checked in at 4%, which is below the industry average of 5.51%.
This is the second abrupt closure TNN has reported this week.
On Monday, an Arkansas-based carrier with nearly twenty years in business to its credit closed its doors for good after its insurance rates skyrocketed due to a multi-million dollar “nuclear verdict.”
READ more about this story HERE.
Photo courtesy of WIT Transportation
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