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Trucking company switches from oil to ag to keep rolling

Industry adjusting to challenge from COVID-19, collapse in oil prices.

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WILLISTON, N.D. — Despite being such an essential piece to the economic progress, as with many businesses, the trucking industry has been heavily declining because of COVID-19. With large numbers of truck drivers trying to continue their jobs transporting important goods and services, some are struggling to just get back on the road again because of limited supplies and smaller demand.

Along with trying to cope with the shortages of hand sanitizer, masks, and limited open businesses when traveling, the haul is getting tougher and tougher for trucking companies. Including local ones.

“I wouldn’t say trucking is in high demand, it’s actually the opposite,” Kris Johnson, president and owner of All In Trucking Inc., in Williston, N.D., said. “It’s very, very slow. There’s a lot of trucks out there sitting with just nothing to do, which has driven the rates down a lot.”

For trucking companies within North Dakota, specifically in western North Dakota, oil has been a large product. However, with the collapse in oil prices, the transportation of oil has slowed.

“We just have to look outside the box, find something else to do in order to diversify.We’ve always been good at that in times of need,” Johnson said.

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Johnson’s company is able to keep rolling by transporting agricultural goods to farmers, ranchers and businesses throughout North Dakota and nearby areas.

“Economically, there’s nothing in the oil industry so we’ve been all agricultural to continue business,” Johnson said. “We’ve been transporting fertilizer and last year’s crops for farmers to be able to buy the fertilizer and put this year’s crop in … we actually got back into (grain) hoppers back in 2014 when the oil crashed and I guess we doubled down on that, too.”

Fortunately, with the help of the agricultural business, some trucking companies have been able to not only keep their staff, but continue to bring people in that need jobs.

“We haven’t laid anybody off, in fact, we are hiring,” Johnson said. “We have not cut down, but we have moved people, the people that we had hauling oil fuel products, we had to move them to hopper or agriculture products.”

At a recent press conference, in referring to the battle of COVID-19, President Donald Trump recently called American truckers the “foot soldiers who are really carrying us to victory.” Johnson stated he feels that sentence refers more to other truckers than himself and his company, but is very humbled by the admiration and respect the trucking industry has garnered.

“We did have one driver in Sidney (Mont.), he saw people giving out lunches and food to truck drivers saying ‘thanks’,” Johnson said.

Johnson later added, “It’s just really awesome to see the public coming together and helping this country continue to move forward, especially in this unprecedented times that we have never seen before; and the compassion that other people have for others is just incredible to see. It’s one silver lining to see in everything we’re going through, that’s what I see from where I sit.”

What to read next
This week on AgweekTV, we’ll visit with high profile policy makers as they gathered in Fargo to discuss the current state of the ag industry. We’ll take a look at the USDA acreage report and ask a market expert what it all means. Once again, we will show our Flags on Farms feature. Finally, we’ll discuss a North Dakota ag tech giant that has an easier way for farmers to get paid for their grain.
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