Press Statement on Lakeville Motor Express Closure
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Roseville, MN- Over 100 families in Minnesota and South Dakota are wondering how they are going to make ends meet after showing up to work this morning at “Lakeville Motor Express,” a Roseville-based trucking company, only to find a sign on the door saying that the company had permanently closed. It is not uncommon for new companies to open and old ones to close, but the circumstances of this closure have many crying foul.
“It didn’t close, the freight is still there, the trucks are still there, the customers are still there. All they did was change the logo on the trucks. Now they are saying they won’t even pay the employees for work they had already done or benefits that have been accrued and are owed,” said Teamsters Local 120 Business Agent Virgil Christoffersen, who represents roughly 90 employees who worked for Lakeville Motor Express.
Earlier this fall, Lakeville Motor Express executive Travis Hoeschen started a competing company called Finish Line Express (FLE). Over the past several months, trucks, customers, and property have been siphoned off from Lakeville and moved over to FLE. Many customers have told Local 120 that they had called Lakeville Motor Express and were sent an FLE truck instead.
“They are doing this to undercut labor costs and drive down the entire market. Every step of this has been done in an underhanded and dishonest fashion. The icing on the cake, that we should all be outraged by, is that there are over 100 families who, without notice, are all of sudden wondering how they will get by, how they will put food on the table at Thanksgiving, and presents under the tree at Christmas,” stated Bill Wedebrand, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 120.
Local 120 President Tom Erickson vowed that the Union would pursue all legal avenues available to stop this kind of business strategy from working: “If what they did isn’t illegal, it should be… period. This is not right, not moral, and not Minnesotan. These executives should be ashamed of themselves.”
Dear Mr Hoffa Teamsters Local 120 needs help for about 90 brothers and sisters you won they need your backing they are your brothers and sisters .
Less-than-truckload carrier Lakeville Motor Express has been sold by the Wren family that founded the Minnesota company in 1921 to Roger Wilsey Sr., an LME vice president, and his wife, Shari. The deal closed Dec. 18, but terms were not disclosed. “I’m optimistic about the future of this company and the industry. Although we’re in a slow growth mode now, we don’t need a dramatic rebound in the economy to be profitable and successful,” Roger Wilsey, 57, said in an interview. Wilsey said he arranged for private financing through a non-bank lender. Lakeville is the nation’s 32nd-largest LTL carrier with revenue topping $80 million last year. It runs through 10 states in the upper Midwest and is part of the Reliance Network Alliance, an LTL interline agreement the collectively covers North America through LME and six other trucking companies. John Wren, Lakeville’s CEO until the closing, was chairman of American Trucking Associations in 1998-1999. With headquarters in New Brighton, LME has about 500 employees, 1,000 tractors and trailers and 34 terminals. A company statement said the Wilseys have owned a trucking company before. For 65 years the family owned and operated Indianhead Truck Lines until it closed in 1997. In the United States, the other members of the Reliance Network Alliance are Averitt Express, DATS Trucking, Land Air Express and Pitt Ohio Express. Canada is covered by Canadian Freightways and Epic Express, both of which are units of TransForce Inc. Wilsey said Lakeville will definitely remain within Reliance because it is an important part of the carrier’s appeal to shippers. “It allows us to offer coverage throughout North America and is a growing portion of the business,” he said. Wilsey said freight volumes in the Midwest have tumbled by 20% to 25% because of the recession, but he thinks that cost-cutting coupled with 3% to 4% annual growth “should get us to a stable, profitable level.” Wilsey will be Lakeville’s CEO and Al Bucher will re-main as president.
By Jonathan S. Reiskin Associate News Editor
How does the LME relate to their branch in Hermantown, MN? I gather that the Roseville one was the only unionized one but am trying to get the Duluth News Tribune on it to help with coverage.