Fikes was traditionally a flatbed operation, but more recently started offering refrigerated transportation and brokerage services. It used both owner-operators and company drivers and had terminals in Alabama, Kentucky and Texas in addition to Arkansas.
Blair is an owner-operator-based flatbed operation with about 400 vehicles, founded in 2009. Many of the owner-operators who were driving for Fikes are also moving over to Blair. Company officials confirmed to HDT that they were absorbing Fikes employees and drivers but because the situation is still in transition were unable to provide more details at this time.
Fikes Truck Line was a member of the Trucking Alliance, an organization of about half a dozen carriers that have been lobbying Congress and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for the electronic logging mandate and other safety initiatives.
Fikes President and CEO Gary Salisbury, a former owner-operator, made image the focus of his year in office as chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association from 2011-2012. He was a big supporter of programs such as the Highway Angel program, Wreaths Across America, and driver health and wellness initiatives.
He told the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association's Land Line magazine this week that the company made some mistakes in 2009 and 2010 as it was trying to recover from the recession. OOIDA members alerted the association to problems as far back as February when their settlement checks didn't clear. Fikes also has struggled to pay its workers' compensation and employer's liability insurance policy, due to what Salisbury told Lane Line were cash flow problems.
Salisbury said the company is working to get its owner-operators caught up on their pay.
“I think what happened to Fikes is we got into the freight business and we got out of the people business," Salisbury told Land Line.
The company's slogan is "Connecting People With Purpose."
According to Land Line, FTL Custom Commodities, a sister company to Fikes, and parent company FTL Transport Services Inc. will continue to operate.