CCJ Daily Dispatch, May 21: ELD provider Samsara cuts 18% of workforce, citing economic slowdown

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Updated May 22, 2020

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, May 21, 2020:

Samsara lays off 300 employees
On Wednesday, the chief executive officer of ELD and mobile fleet management supplier Samsara circulated an internal memo announcing a layoff of 300 people or about 18% of its global workforce. The company later published a blog on its website noting the employment cuts.

The internal memo from CEO Sanjit Biswas cited the ongoing economic downturn as the reason for the cuts.

Since its founding in 2015, Samsara has grown to more than 15,000 customers. Its revenue has at least doubled every year and tripled in 2019. Samsara planned to again double revenues in 2020 and hired in advance to match the pace.

In the first quarter, the company nearly met its goals for revenue and customer growth, but the company now expects that growth to stall, citing truck and trailer orders by fleets as the reason for that expected plateau in growth.

The workforce cuts were primarily made to its business lines that have the longest path to profitability, Biswas said. These “frontier areas” are mostly in European countries. Reductions to its North American fleet business were narrower and focused primarily on administration and supporting teams for events.

Samsara also announced an additional $400 million investment round with plans to use the new capital reserves for research and development. The company’s previous investors have reinvested along with new investors who have experience helping companies with IPOs.

The company has set up a website to help those laid off to find new work: samsara.com/alumni.

ELD maker KeepTruckin’ in March also laid off 350 employees, citing projections for long-term economic uncertainty as the reason.

OOIDA petitions DOT to improve broker transparency
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is calling on the Department of Transportation to take action to improve broker transparency.

In a petition filed to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Tuesday, May 19, OOIDA calls for a rulemaking that would require brokers to automatically provide an electronic copy of each transaction record within 48 hours of the contractual service being completed, and to prohibit brokers from including provisions in their contracts that requires carriers to waive their rights to access the transaction records as required by 49 CFR 371.3. The petition urged a clear-cut system of enforcement by way of “a structured fine system that would penalize non-compliance” with the regulation.

Queries to FMCSA about administrative enforcement mechanisms that may exist today went unanswered as of press time.

“Brokers have been deliberately skirting federal transparency regulations for decades,” said Todd Spencer, president and CEO of OOIDA.  “We certainly don’t think exempting yourself from federal regulations is legal, but this is precisely what is happening. It has to stop. We realize some brokers might not like the regulations, but that doesn’t give them the right to blatantly skirt them without any recourse.”

OOIDA earlier this month sent a letter to Congress requesting similar provisions be added to a COVID-19 relief bill. The provisions were not included in a bill passed May 15 by the House that is currently with the Senate.

Harold HydeHarold Hyde

Old Dominion honors driver for saving autistic boy
Old Dominion Freight Line has honored one of its drivers for an act of highway heroism. Harold Hyde, a Nashville, Tennessee-based pickup and delivery driver, is the recipient of the company’s 2020 John Yowell OD Family Spirit Award. Hyde has been a pickup and delivery driver for Old Dominion since 2007.

In August 2019, Hyde was driving while en route to a customer delivery when he noticed cars swerving to miss an object in the road, according to a statement from the company. As he approached, he realized the object in the road was a 4-year-old boy.

Hyde immediately pulled his tractor-trailer across both lanes of traffic to barricade the street and jumped out of his truck. The child, autistic and non-verbal, had managed to unlock the front door of his home and wandered onto the road. Another good Samaritan stopped to assist Hyde, called the police, and the young boy was safely returned home to his family.

“I am humbled to be recognized with the John Yowell award,” Hyde said. “It’s inspiring to be associated with the legacy of Mr. Yowell and past recipients of the award. My job allows me to interact with the great people of Nashville and beyond, and I will continue to strive for excellence in my work while serving my community. I’m just thankful for the chance to do something positive for someone else.”

Old Dominion created the award in 2011 following the untimely death of former executive vice president and chief operating officer, John Yowell. Yowell epitomized a family culture, which serves as a key operating philosophy for the leading less-than-truckload carrier, according to the company. The award is given to an employee who showcases an unabashed devotion to helping others.

Hyde was also recognized for his efforts in September 2019 when he was driving on his local route making deliveries when he saw an overturned SUV with a pregnant woman trapped inside. Hyde rushed to rescue the woman from the vehicle before first responders could arrive.

As part of the recognition, Hyde received $1,000 to donate to a charity of his choice. He selected the True Joy Community Program, an organization that provides healthy meals and snacks to children in low-income areas in an effort to decrease hunger, obesity, and to promote health and nutrition.