SIDNEY – Continental Express in Sidney has seen a big shift in demand for its trucking services during the coronavirus pandemic with an increased focus on delivering essentials such as milk and bread to its customers.
Russell Gottemoeller, the founder and president of Continental Express, said it went from shipping 10 loads of dairy a day to 28 loads a day during the pandemic. The company generally would ship 20 to 22 loads of bread a day but now is shipping 35 loads a day.
“We were running at capacity prior to this,” Gottemoeller said. “What we’ve seen is a shift in business and more priority on the essentials and less priority on the non-essential products we haul.”
A florist that Continental Express services has suspended its operations, a reprieve that has allowed Continental to focus on transporting essential items such as bread and milk.
“Nobody is really concerned about flowers,” Gottemoeller said.
Luke Subler, vice president of Classic Carriers in Versailles, said his company has seen a big uptick in demand recently.
“Once this hit, it really took off,” said Subler, whose company focuses on delivering refrigerated foods. “We’re completely at capacity at this point.”
Moeller Trucking in Maria Stein also has seen increased demand, dispatcher Jake Moeller said. Because of the demand, the company is solely focused on its customer freight shipments and hasn’t had to seek out outside freight shipments like it has at times in the past.
“We haul mostly grocery goods,” Moeller said, “so the demand is high.
“Our customers are keeping us busy, and we’re happy to do it.”
Gottemoeller, Moeller and Subler said a major shift in recent days has been the decreased demand from restaurants, which have stopped serving dine-in customers across much of the nation following orders by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and other elected officials.
While restaurants have decreased orders, demand has increased significantly at grocery stores.
“A week before Christmas volume is what we’re doing now,” Gottemoeller said. “The nice thing with the week before Christmas, we know when it’s going to end.”
Continental Express is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to keep its staff healthy such as wiping down surfaces, washing hands, using hand sanitizer and keeping distance between individuals. Drivers getting sick could further strain the supply chain, which already is facing major challenges, Gottemoeller said.
“My biggest fear right now is half of them get sick and we lose half of our capacity,” he said of his company’s 550 truck drivers.
Gottemoeller also is working to address his employees’ mental health and is trying to keep up their spirits.
“We’re talking daily,” he said. “I’m spending half my day keeping my operations team pumped up and my drivers pumped up.”
The shutdown of restaurants, and limited parking at places that remain open, has created challenges for drivers, Subler said. However, he remains confident his company and the nation will weather the tough times.
“We’ll get through this,” Subler said.
While many industries across the nation are shutting down as a result of the pandemic, Gottemoeller said, it’s vital that trucking companies continue delivering supplies to Americans throughout the country.
“They’re proud of what they’re doing, trying to keep America going,” Gottemoeller said of his employees.
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