The Tulsa, Okla., company wouldn't pay for simple repairs on her first truck. So Ms. Cruthis used $787 of her own money to get a second truck back to Arrow Trucking headquarters about a week ago. Mechanics sent her home: They wouldn't be fixing her truck until after the New Year for lack of funds, they said. As she was driving home to Georgia, she got a call telling her to come back.
The next morning, Arrow Trucking suspended its operations, shuttered its Tulsa headquarters, and shut off its fuel cards, leaving some of its 1,400 or so drivers stranded around the country with no fuel to get back home. Now back in Macon, Ga., Cruthis and dozens of other truckers have banded together to help their stranded bretheren.
"The way these truckers are getting out there and helping each other is amazing," Cruthis says. "They’ll sit on the radio and curse at each other all day and fight all day and then for them to stand up and help everybody like this? It's great."
The Owner-Operated Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) put together a Facebook page where truckers have been posting their routes in case they can pick up stranded Arrow drivers along the way. OOIDA has helped half a dozen truckers get home so far, wrote spokeswoman Norita Taylor in an e-mail. Truckers from Michigan to Alabama chimed in with their phone numbers and upcoming routes, offering free rides, laundry at their homes, and hot meals.
By Tuesday afternoon, Daimler Trucks was offering bus tickets home or $200 cash to Arrow drivers who turned in their Freightliner trucks to a Freightliner dealer. The company leased about 1,000 trucks to Arrow. By Wednesday evening, some 350 Arrow drivers had called Daimler, according to Jack Ferry, spokesman for Daimler Trucks Financial, the company's finance arm.
On Wednesday morning, Navistar matched the offer for Arrow drivers with International trucks. "We're a good corporate citizen and it's the holidays," says Roy Wiley, a spokesman for Navistar. Also, "they're our trucks. We want to make certain [the drivers] take care of them."
A number of groups even advertised that they were hiring Arrow Trucking drivers and/or staff. Those include:
Where to go if you need help? Here are three lines connecting truckers with help:
- Owner-Operated Independent Drivers Association: (800) 444-5791
- The Road Dog Show: (888) 876-2336 extension 4
- Fikes: (800) 873-4537
Compounding trucker frustration is the fact that because Arrow has not formally fired its employees or gone bankrupt but only suspended operations. That makes it impossible for employees to file for unemployment benefits.
After talking with a lawyer, Cruthis says she aims to go to small claims court to settle the $787 she spent to move her truck from Nebraska to Oklahoma.
For Arrow Trucking's long-time employees, however, the company's mysterious collapse was tough to take so close to the holidays.
"I sat there and watched a guy who had been there 30 or 40 years choking up and trying not to cry because everything is gone now," Cruthis said.