P.A.M. lays off over 50 employees; works with competitors on freight opportunities

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 2,724 views 

Tontitown-based carrier P.A.M. Transportation Services Inc. has temporarily laid off more than 50 employees, including office staff and drivers, as a result of automotive plant closures in Michigan in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the carrier’s stock price fell to a 52-week low, and the company is collaborating with competitors on freight opportunities.

Tyler Majors, director of human resources, confirmed Monday (March 23) the layoffs had taken place across the carrier’s network. Justin Orr, human resources manager, emphasized this was a temporary layoff. And Majors said the company would bring them back as soon as possible.

“Bringing our people back to work is not solely dependent on the automotive industry,” Majors said. “It is something that we’re working to do. Our CEO Dan Cushman has been in this industry for about 40 years, and he has a lot of friends. He’s also the chairman of the Arkansas Trucking Association. And I know he’s hard at work talking to those friends and felt like those competitors were talking about how we could collaborate on freight opportunities to keep our drivers busy and employees working.”

Some of those companies included ArcBest, CalArk, FedEx, Tyson Foods, Walmart and USA Truck, Majors added.

“We definitely have our businesses to run,” Majors said. “But we want to help where we can.”

Layoffs amid the COVID-19 pandemic are not exclusive to any one industry, and according to a recent Freightwaves article, Total Quality Logistics (TQL) and Freightos were among the businesses in the freight industry that have had layoffs.

However, a spokesman for Total Quality Logistics said there were no layoffs, but the company had some separations that were based on performance and “not part of any broader reduction plan.

“TQL is fully operational and continues to meet the unprecedented load demands in the supply chain without any interruption or disruption,” the company said in a statement.

General Motors is P.A.M.’s largest customer, and the automotive industry accounts for about half of the carrier’s business. Automakers started closing U.S. plants last week, and the closures are expected to continue this week. The closures come after the United Auto Workers labor strike against General Motors in September and October.

P.A.M. had 400 drivers who depended on General Motors freight, and the carrier found new freight opportunities for the drivers, Cushman said previously. The size of its fleet increased by six drivers as it maintained profitability throughout the strike.

On Feb. 24, P.A.M. reported a net loss of $13.64 million, or a loss of $2.37 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2019, compared to net income of $6.07 million, or $1.01 per share, in the same period in 2018. For 2019, net income fell 67.1% to $7.9 million, or $1.34 per share. Revenue declined 3.6% to $514.18 million.

Shares of P.A.M. (NASDAQ: PTSI) closed Monday at $22.01, down 49 cents or 2.18%. In the past 52 weeks, the stock has traded between $71.56 and $22.00. The stock price hit the 52-week low Monday.