Southeastern Freight Lines is expanding its workforce by hiring 900 employees, bringing its total headcount to more than 7,000 workers by the end of 2010.
The Lexington, S.C.-based regional less-than-truckload carrier said it survived the recession last year without a layoff, cutting costs in other areas than payroll.
“Not only were we successful at avoiding layoffs, but we also maintained wages for employees and kept all benefits in place,” said Mike Heaton, senior vice president.
Shipping's Uncertainty Principle
Southeastern is the 11th largest LTL carrier and 24th largest trucking company in the U.S. ranked by revenue, with about $628 million in revenue in 2009.
Its revenue fell 15.1 percent in 2009 from the previous year, compared to a 24.4 percent drop for the LTL industry, according to SJ Consulting Group data.
When the economy began to erode in 2008, Southeastern formed a “Keep Our People Working” task force to find ways to cut costs but keep jobs and benefits.
Terminal by terminal, the task force identified ways to cut costs, including refurbishing trucks and reducing spending on outsourced services.
Employees also took on non-traditional tasks and roles, with drivers working in maintenance shops to refurbish equipment when freight levels were low.
Southeastern also focused on safety, reporting its lowest accidents per million miles and lowest total injuries per 200,000 hours in the past decade, Heaton said.
Avoiding deep layoffs last year means Southeastern doesn’t have to hire far more than 900 workers as business levels rebound, he said, lowering training costs.
In a statement, the company said it remained “conservatively optimistic” about 2011, and said it is preparing to order new equipment and expand facilities.
--Contact William B. Cassidy at email@example.com.