LECOMPTE, La. (KALB) – ‘Now hiring’ signs are popping up everywhere. Businesses are hiring, but many are struggling to find new employees to maintain their workforce.
For Guillory Petroleum Transport, the lack of employees is leading to lost revenue. It costs $2,500 to finance each truck that sits in their lot every month. Each day they do, the business loses $1,000 in revenue.
“We’re still trying to catch up,” says Rickie Guillory, owner of Guillory Petroleum Transport. “From when COVID-19 first started, you know, and we haven’t caught up yet. But if the economy stays like it is, you know eventually, we’re going to catch up. Slowly but surely.”
Guillory’s company hauls fuel lube oils all over the country for things like generators and car engines. He also has a shop where mechanics work on trucks inside and outside the company. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, his business was on track.
“We were wide-open running,” says Guillory. “We had most of our trucks full. We were still looking for truck drivers, and we had plenty of people putting in applications at the time, and then COVID-19 hit, and that kind of shut everything down quite a bit.”
During the peak of the pandemic, restrictions were put in place with rules on when, where and how often drivers could operate. Then hurricanes Laura and Delta hit the South, followed by the February ice storm.
The demand for Guillory’s product hasn’t slowed down since. Now, with much of the country opening back up, demand has only increased and the need for employees along with it.
Some believe the federal government’s extension of unemployment benefits is to blame. Louisiana’s unemployed receive $300 in weekly bonuses from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. On top of benefits issued by the state, those bonuses are set to last until September. Though states can now opt-out of these extra benefits, Governor John Bel Edwards has made no indication if or when that will happen.
As the summer months set in, the nation is on the move, and Guillory’s company, along with every industry providing services for vacationing Americans, needs to follow suit.
“There are companies like me all over the state of Louisiana looking for truck drivers, office workers, convenience stores, construction companies,” emphasizes Guillory. “Everybody’s looking, restaurants. Everybody’s looking for people to work.”
Guillory says if he doesn’t get more employees, his company will have to move in a different direction entirely – downsizing.
“Hopefully, that doesn’t happen because all of our customers are important to us,” says Guillory. “They are what keeps our business going. But we probably have to look at maybe downsizing, but hopefully, things will change, and we’ll get the drivers we need, you know, and to keep our business going and to keep growing.”
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