Answers to Drivers’ COVID-19 Questions

The following is a lightly-edited transcript of the April 10, 2020 edition of Asked and Answered, an occasional video series featuring Crete Carrier President and COO Tim Aschoff and Shaffer Trucking President Erick Kutter. In this edition Tim and Erick answer questions related to COVID-19, submitted by Crete and Shaffer drivers. You can view the full Asked and Answered program on our YouTube channel.

Tim Aschoff:

Hello everybody and welcome to this special edition of Asked and Answered, again, another session here on the COVID-19 virus. I’m Tim Aschoff, President of Crete Carrier. In a minute you’ll be hearing from Erick Kutter. We are practicing our social distancing, so we’re not shoulder to shoulder as we normally are, but we’ll be throwing it back and forth and answering your questions today. But before we get started, we just want everybody to know, and for those of you who have been part of the Crete, Shaffer, Hunt family for many years, you know our overall mission is to take care of you. In all these answers we give, and in our overall way of doing things, our goal is to make sure you’re safe, that your family is well taken care of, that you’re well taken care of. Just know, underlying everything is we want to make sure that we are taking care of you. With that, I’m going to turn it over to Erick.

Erick Kutter:

Thanks, Tim. First question for Asked and Answered for today is, what happens if a driver gets COVID-19 while on the road? Now, there’s about seven or eight underlying questions we’ve had that pertain to that initial question. There’s so many variations of what could happen and where you’re at and what your circumstances are that really, I think Tim hit on it already, when you’re a part of the Crete and Shaffer family, we are going to take care of you. We’re going to take care of you the best we can.

I can explain it best by just giving you a couple of examples of some Shaffer drivers that had called into safety and had COVID symptoms. One, Michael, he had called in and he was really ill, and we actually got him a ride to the hospital where they checked him in. He went into the hospital for a couple days, came back out. We put Michael into a hotel for a few days and then after that we rented Michael a car and sent him home so he could rest at home and finish out the remainder of his quarantine. After about seven days, Michael was itching to get back on the road, wanting to get back to work. He’s safely out traveling about today, doing a great job for our Crete and Shaffer team.

Next example, David also had symptoms of COVID, called into Safety. He wasn’t as seriously ill at the time, so Safety allowed him to drive his tractor home. He went and tested for COVID and went on quarantine at the house. As you can see, there’s many different variations of what could happen, but I just want to reiterate to you that when you’re part of the Crete and Shaffer family, we’re going to take care of you and do what’s right.

Tim Aschoff:

Erick, the good thing on those, both of those were negative for COVID. We’ve yet to have anyone test positive for COVID.

Erick Kutter:

Yes, no positive tests for COVID. Also, I think part of that question was also, are owner operators included? Yes. When you’re an owner operator, you’re part of the Crete Shaffer family and we’ll handle you the same way we do our company drivers.

 

Tim Aschoff:

Our next question is, what is being done at the terminals to provide sanitation supplies as well as face coverings? Well, as you know, our teams have been working really hard for over a month now on ensuring we can have as many supplies for you as possible. With respect to where we’re at today, all of our terminals have gloves available. Most of them have some sanitizing wipes or some other sanitizing cleaners that we’ve been able to get in bulk and mix that concentrate into bottles and provide to you.

There’s two steps of cleaning that the CDC is recommending. One of them is a detergent cleaning, so we have taken like a Dawn dish washing soap, mixed it with water for you, have that bottle so you can do that initial cleaning, and then sanitizing spray after that. We have a lot of those supplies at all our terminals.

At one point we’ve had it at all of our terminals I know, but sometimes we get rushes of drivers into those. They bring down that supply and we work hard to bring it back up. I can’t guarantee you that there’s going to be all of those supplies at every terminal, but know that we have had those all at one time and we’re doing the best we can in order to keep them all in stock.

Another big thing I know people are looking for is hand sanitizer. We are working really, really hard on that. I want to thank Walmart. They did give us 500 bottles of hand sanitizer that, as you might imagine, we’ve gone through quite quickly. Just today we have received 250 gallons of hand sanitizer produced by the University of Nebraska, so we want to thank you for that, but we are going to need to get that distributed out to the terminals.

We also have another source in bulk, and that’s the challenge we’re having. We’re able to get the hand sanitizer but it’s mostly in bulk. We’re going to ship that out to the terminals. Then the challenge becomes getting that into bottles that you can use. A lot of the hand sanitizer we’re able to get today is the real liquid form, not the gel form. I encourage you, if you have one of those bottles that you’re using that either has the foamer or the spray top on it, keep that. Take that with you to the terminal because most of the options we’re going to have for hand sanitizer is that bulk amount. We’re having a hard time finding spray bottles, so keep that spray bottle, take it in with you, and bear with us as we get that distributed across the terminals. We do want to have that for you, but it is a little bit of a challenge right now and we’re working hard on it.

The last thing I know people are asking about is face coverings. As you know, the CDC has recommended that when people are out in public that they wear a cloth face covering. We know we’ve had some cities in Texas, Oklahoma, California, others that are requiring that you have a cloth face covering when out in public. We should soon have cloth face coverings available at essentially all our facilities.

It’s hard to get the masks and they want the medical providers to get the masks, so we’re going to have cloth kits where you’re going to have a piece of cloth you’re going to be able to make into a face covering using rubber bands and the cloth. We’ll have instructions there for you, but again, our goal is to have something for you as soon as possible, so bear with us. As you’re on a normal trip through the terminal, stop in, see what they have. If they don’t have some of those things available at that time, the next time you’re through your next terminal, please go ahead and ask, or even if you’re on the way through and want to call ahead and ask the terminal, “Hey, what do you have?” Go ahead and do that. They’ll let you know so we can be as efficient as possible in keeping you supplied and safe while out there on the road.

 

Erick Kutter:

The next question is, there’s concerns over losing our job should we be quarantined for COVID-19. Really the simple answer to that is no. That’s really not what we do. Like we’ve already said numerous times, we take care of our Crete and Shaffer family. Our biggest concern is your health and safety. We want to make sure we’re doing all the right things to take care of all of our employees.

Now I can tell you that if you do contract the COVID virus and you’re quarantined for 14 days, we do have a 14-day program to help compensate you for your time away from work. As far as being fearful of, “Hey, am I going to get it or could I get it,” really, we’ve had zero positive so far. What we’ve noticed is that in our supply chain of shippers and receivers, they’ve done a great job coming up with different things to help social distancing and to keep all of us safe at our shippers and receivers. They’re doing a number of different items such as taking temperatures maybe, asking questions about your health, maybe leaving paperwork in different locations. Those are all things that help increase more space and social distancing to flatten out the curve and to make sure that we’re all safe and have proper contact.

Another question on part two of that was, what if I’m dispatched to a spot that is maybe considered a hot spot for COVID virus? I’d say to that is we don’t haul much freight into New York City. That is really the epicenter right now for the COVID-19. Really every other place in the country has some COVID cases currently going on. I would say work with your asset manager. We will try to do the best we can, but really, as long as we stay in our supply chain network, we’re going to be as safe as possible. That’s really proven by how we’ve done things, our customers have reacted, and the things we’re doing to practically take care of all of our people.

 

Tim Aschoff:

Thanks, Erick. You talked a little bit about customers there, and just following up on that, a couple of things. We have received reports from you of a number of places, mostly at receivers, so they’re not really our customers, of some restrictions that have been there either on facilities for restrooms or otherwise. Thank you for sharing those with us. We’ve got a number of those places to open back up so that you have the ability to use the restroom or otherwise. If you’re still running into any challenges like that, please let us know. We want to make sure that everyone in the supply chain is understanding your importance and your need and desire to have those facilities out there for you. We want that as well.

The next question here is, will Crete be providing any sort of hazardous pay or COVID bonus or other thing out there for us? We do appreciate all of what you’re doing out there. You’re out there on the front line. We have a lot of people out there on the front lines, the drivers, the shops. We have people at the terminals. We have people at our dedicated facilities that are working hand in hand with you every day. We do appreciate all you’re doing for our country, keeping us supplied. One of the things I do want to make sure is that we do keep things in perspective. As you know, Crete Carrier, Shaffer Trucking, we’ve been here for the long haul. We’re all about taking care of our people for the long term, offering you long-term opportunities with quarterly bonuses. We just are coming to the end of a quarter here. Because of COVID, we actually had very strong miles in March. That helped many, many of you reach that quarterly bonus that you’re getting paid here shortly.

The other thing is we are fortunate that we’re in part of the supply chain that is still busy hauling food and consumer packaged goods. It was just announced that in the last 4 weeks, 17 million people lost their jobs and filed new unemployment claims. I think we’re very fortunate that we are in a part of the industry that we all can keep our jobs, keep moving. It’s very vital, as we know that, and we don’t diminish that, but just know that at the end of the day, as we always do, Crete Carrier and Shaffer Trucking will take care of you for the long-term.

I’ve been here for 18 years. Even through some dark years in 2008, 2009, 2010, our family ownership has always rewarded us with profit sharing. I know as we get through this, as we work hard, we keep Americans supplied, we work hard to keep getting you those miles, we will all have that long-term benefit of safe, secure employment, good income over time, and certainly that profit sharing as we get through this. We really do appreciate it. We truly appreciate and value what you do each day. Our job is to ensure that you can keep doing that and have your job for the long term. We’ve never had a layoff here at Crete or Shaffer and we intend to keep it that way.

 

Erick Kutter:

All right, thanks, Tim. Hey, next question we have is, we’re seeing delays at shippers and receivers. What is happening? What’s going on out there? I just want to reiterate to people that there are some delays at shippers and receivers. You have some people that are calling out sick for work at both the shipping end and the receiving end, so that’s created some additional delays that we haven’t seen before. We are seeing some of that. We’re also having POs being moved from different ship days, so orders could be canceling and they’re moving them to ship the following week or maybe two weeks down the road. We’re seeing freight selection be moved around in the supply chain.

We’re also seeing some plants that are closing. They want to clean. It’s a holiday weekend coming up and they’re going to take the opportunity to make sure to keep their plant clean so they can keep their employees healthy. Obviously that helps keeping our drivers healthy as well. Just want to let you know that we do see some of that right now. A combination of maybe some over-ordering over the last few weeks in combination with the Easter weekend, we are seeing a little bit of freight selection get moved forward. We are still strong on freight in many areas of the country and we’re trying to move our drivers to the best place that we can place you in order to keep with the most productive freight.

 

Tim Aschoff:

All right. The final question we have today is, due to the coronavirus, can we look to do things differently such as using Zoom or other virtual technology for safety meetings or our annual reviews? That’s a very great question and suggestion. We’ve been working on so many other things, we hadn’t gotten to that piece yet. I do want to look into that, look with our safety team as far as safety meetings, and then certainly with your fleets folks about doing your annual reviews so you can have that social distancing while you’re doing that, whether that’s through some Zoom technology or otherwise.

Speaking of technology, we are using that in many different ways and have adapted to that. One of those is we are providing free tele-health to our healthcare plan members. If you haven’t registered for that now would be a good time to do that. You go to Amwell.com to register for that. We have other benefits as well. During this time of some uncertainty, we have the Employee Assistance Program. If you need to call and talk to somebody, that’s available. If you need information on that, please contact your fleet manager.

I’d just like to close today by saying thank you for everything you are doing. The country is going through very challenging times. It’s not easy. It’s not easy for us either. We’ve had some really good days out there as far as working with our customers, supplying America, but as this goes on, we’re going to see some rocky days as well. But one of the things I am confident of is that we have the best team in the trucking industry. All of you out there driving, picking up and delivering these valuable loads to the country each and every day, our office members working with you to do that, working with our customers, all of the support teams in the office, and then certainly our shop teams, out there with you on the front line, ensuring we’re keeping your equipment maintained, keeping that good uptime and keeping you moving.

We’re going to have some ups and downs. We’re going to have some good days, we’re going to have some bad days. We are going to try to communicate the best we can, supply you as much as we can, always keep you as safe as we can. You know what? We’re going to get through this. It may be another two weeks, it may be another two months, but at the end of the day, we’re going to come out of this and be the best Crete and Shaffer Trucking that we’ve ever been. Thank you very much.