Central Freight Lines will shut down its more than 2,000-employee business after 96 years.  -  Photo: Central Freight

Central Freight Lines will shut down its more than 2,000-employee business after 96 years.

Photo: Central Freight

Beginning Dec. 13, Central Freight Lines will no longer pick up freight. The Waco, Texas, less-than-truckload carrier announced it will shut down its business after 96 years due to debt, leaving more than 2,000 truck drivers and other employees out of a job.

Central Freight will deliver the freight currently in its system, company officials wrote on its website, ceasing operations by Dec. 20.

The company said it is coordinating with regional LTL carriers to afford its employees opportunities to apply for other LTL jobs in their area. On Central Freight’s Facebook page, several users are commenting on the latest post with possible job opportunities.

Central Freight said in a statement that the company was unable to fund ongoing operations, find a buyer for the business, or fund a reorganization.

"We make this announcement with a heavy heart and extreme regret that the company cannot continue after nearly 100 years in operation," Central Freight Lines officials said in a statement. "The company explored all available options to keep operations going. However, operating losses sapped all remaining sources of liquidity, and the company's liabilities far exceed its assets, all of which are subject to liens in favor of multiple creditors."

The company said it was unable to get commitments to fund ongoing operations, find a buyer of the entire business, or fund a Chapter 11 reorganization. "Given its limited remaining resources, the company concluded that the best alternative was a safe and orderly wind-down. As we complete the wind-down process, our primary goal will be to offer the smoothest possible transition for all stakeholders while maximizing the amount available to apply toward the company's obligations," said Bruce Kalem, Central Freight's president, in that statement.

Central Freight is in negotiations to sell a substantial portion of its equipment. According to published reports, one competing LTL that likely will buy some of Central's equipment and hire some of its drivers is Virginia-based Estes Express Lines.

CFL last year received the maximum award of $10 million through the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program.) In the fall of 2020, there were rumors that the company was shutting down its Western operations, which the carrier said were untrue at the time, according to published reports. That was followed by a management shake-up in December, with owner Jerry Moyes stepping in as interim president and CEO. He said at the time his goal was to optimize the company's existing LTL services while expanding product offerings to deliver more for CFL customers.

Central Freight was one of HDT's Top Green Fleets of 2019.

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