MEMPHIS, Tennessee — We have a clearer idea how supply chain issues and staff shortages are impacting one local trucking company, and how added costs are being passed to local consumers.
Mid South Transport Inc. is increasingly challenged in hiring more drivers as demand for the goods they transport skyrockets.
The company is one of the few in the Mid-South which goes to and from the port of Los Angeles to pick up international goods and drive them back here.
"I think it's going to get worse before it gets better," Danny Byrd said, with Mid South Inc. Transport Sales and Marketing.
"The most intense that it's been since I can remember," Mid South Transport Inc. President Ronnie Lancaster added.
That's the consensus from leadership at the Memphis trucking company, which brings in goods for more than 50 area companies.
"There's not enough drivers. Our biggest thing is drivers," Byrd said.
About 20% percent of the company's drivers retired in the last year, but only 5% of new drivers were hired back, just as product demand surged locally and worldwide.
"We could staff 300 drivers right now without any problems. You’ve got customers just begging for drivers," Lancaster added.
And it's that lack of drivers that's driving up prices, especially in routes from the Port of Los Angeles, where incoming international cargo increased 30% year to year.
"A year ago we would haul freight out of California for $1800, $1900," Byrd said. "Now, it's gone to $5,000 to $6,000 per truck."
It's those skyrocketing costs which are trickling down to the buyer in some form.
"It doesn’t benefit the viewer in any way good because the situation is the prices are going up because of the supply and demand," Lancaster said.
For now, Mid South Transport is offering signing, referral, and safety bonuses to new hires in the fierce local competition to get more truck drivers - especially young people - out on the road and transporting goods cross country.
"We are not where we want to be but we are like everyone else - we are trying to get there and figure out how to hire a driver and keep him satisfied," Mid South Transport, Inc. Vice-President of Operations Ronnie Kennedy said.
This is not an issue exclusive to Memphis.
Trucking industry experts estimate the United States is 68,000 drivers short on the roads, a number that could expand to more than 100,000 drivers by the year 2028.