The ABC fleet is made up of about 700 vehicles and we have a range of vehicle types, but by and large, we’re work trucks or vans for our pest control, handymen and plumbers—not big 18 wheelers. We have trucks that pull trailers for our lawn mowing crew. None of them are big trucks, but they are all vehicles with our logo on them. And in today’s environment having a logo on those vehicles is like having a bullseye, a target, on each and every one of those 700 trucks. The market is just out there looking for opportunities to sue commercial vehicles for even the slightest accident. It’s the worse it’s ever been in the nearly 40 years I’ve been in business.

If we are at fault in an accident, we’re going to do the right thing. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. It’s not about people being involved in an accident and becoming rich, or about lawyers advertising for these accidents and then receiving millions of dollars for accidents that should’ve been taken care of with tens of thousands of dollars.

Bobby Jenkins,
Co-President, ABC Home & Commercial Services.

We are an industry that is built on safety and that focuses on safety, and we want to ensure that every individual that’s on the road is safe when our trucks are on the road. It’s not an anonymous person that’s driving down the road—the motoring public is always our central focus. What these trial lawyers want to do is create a sense of fear with the individuals that are sitting in a jury box. They make them scared that our equipment is big. They make them scared that we’re not meeting all of the regulatory requirements, that we’re not doing what we should be doing as a company. And when you focus on the negative and you focus and you create this sense of fear in individuals, it changes their perspective. It puts us at a disproportionate disadvantage. We’re just like anybody else trying to live the American dream. We started our company from nothing, with one truck and one trailer out of our kitchen. We’re not a major corporation, we’re just a mom and pop shop. I think it was evident during the pandemic how essential trucking is to our economy. If it was not for the trucking industry, if it was not for the drivers, if it was not for the dispatchers out there, stocking our shelves and making sure that the goods that we needed to survive were there, it would’ve been a much different outcome.

Adam Blanchard,
Co-Owner, Double Diamond Transport Inc.

Last year we had probably the best year we’ve ever had in our company and all of the excess profit that we had made, went towards paying insurance premiums. I would much rather give my drivers and office staff—who work very hard and are very good and very professional—bonuses or raises than give it to the insurance company.

But literally every excess penny we make seems to be going to the insurance company.

In the past six years, our insurance rates have gone up 225%. There’s no way I can raise my rates 225% just to stay level because no one would use our services. They’re coming after my family’s wellbeing. My employee’s wellbeing, my employees’ careers. We’re a small town, 4,000 people. There’s not a lot of opportunity there, but I do believe our business is a great opportunity for a lot of our employees. And if you take that out of the town, that’s just another business leaving small town America.

Lincoln Thompson,
General Manager, Duncan Thompson Transportation.

When I first began working at Atlas Sand, it wasn’t a problem to find a trucking company that met all of our requirements. Today, that’s changed. Our insurance requirements are becoming increasingly challenging for trucking companies to meet. Many of the companies we’ve worked with in the past no longer qualify to work with us now because they can’t afford the insurance we require. Some have flat out gone out of business because they can’t afford insurance period.

It’s even becoming more difficult to find new companies to work with. I spoke recently with a female trucker who was working with a company that took 30 percent of her profits to pay for her insurance. She owned her own truck and was looking into starting her own business, but simply couldn’t afford the insurance. It always comes down to the cost of insurance, and the risk of lawsuits is often the reason it’s so expensive.

Because the costs are increasing for the trucking companies, their cost is increasing for us as well. We’ve been paying more for the same trucking contracts, when we can find anyone at all to haul our sand. We had an especially difficult time finding trucks during the pandemic.

The majority of the companies we work with have fewer than 100 trucks, and we work with quite a few that have less than 50 and less than 10. It’s the small trucking companies that are hurting, but it’s also the small trucking companies that keep us in business.

We support the trucking companies and we understand their value. We understand what they’re going through. We operate a small fleet of pickup trucks, and even our insurance for those small trucks has increased. We feel fortunate that we’ve been able to get through the pandemic, but we know a lot of other companies haven’t been so lucky. Ultimately, we need the trucking companies to stay in business so we can stay in business.

Pam Grooms,
Atlas Sand Co.
Atlas is a family business. It was started by my father nearly 39 years ago, and my brother and I have been running it since 2012. We are a big part of this community. We’re visible—people know me and they know the company, which is incredible for growing the business but also puts a huge target on our back when it comes to litigation.

The litigation environment is becoming incredibly frustrating. We’ve never filed a claim with our insurance, but our premiums still keep going up. Today, we’re paying 40 percent more for insurance than we were just five years ago, and again, that’s never having filed a claim.

It’s disheartening as a business owner. When did it become ok for lawyers and people to get rich off of fraudulent cases? In the end, we’ll all pay for it when insurance rates grow sky high. You’ve worked so hard to build something with your family, to create jobs and to do right by your community and give back. And one lawyer can take all of that away with false claims. It makes you wonder if it’s all really worth it to work so hard to build a business.

Sarah Sagredo-Hammond,
Atlas Electrical, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Plumbing Services Inc.

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