Central Freight Lines closes its doors leaving thousands unemployed
Central Freight Lines will shutter operations, the company W.W. “Woody” Callan founded in Waco 96 years ago reportedly swimming in debt and unable to craft a rescue plan that would satisfy creditors.
Monday was the iconic company’s last day to pick up shipments, and a statement says it hopes to complete deliveries by next Monday.
Central has seen employment locally gradually slip, with a Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman saying records show a staffing level of 186 in May 2020, when the chamber last took a reading.
“We make this announcement with a heavy heart and extreme regret that the company cannot continue after nearly 100 years in operation,” said Central Freight Lines president Bruce Kalem. He said Central could not find a buyer for the entire business, though at least one trucking trade magazine reports it received inquiries about segments. Kalem said Central could not secure commitments to fund ongoing operations or assist with a bankruptcy filing.
The best alternative, he said, “was a safe and orderly wind-down.”
“Central Freight had a large debt burden stemming from past decisions that evidently could not be sustained,” he added. “This closure is obviously difficult for the employees of the firm throughout the country, particularly during the holiday season. Central Freight has many valuable assets that can hopefully be placed back into service to meet future needs.”
Cassandra Alexander is a single mother of three that’s been a delivery driver for the company for the last four years. However, after scrolling through her phone yesterday afternoon, she found out that she and more than 2,000 other coworkers were without a job.
“It’s a big shock to all of us and mainly to me because we weren’t told anything,” she said.
“I found out through social media. I just didn’t know that it would be like this, without any warning right before Christmas. We’re literally less than two weeks from it and it’s just crazy.”
Central Freight Will officially cease picking up new shipments effective Monday and expects to deliver all freight remaining by December 20, citing too much debt and an inability to pay bills.
As if it couldn’t come at a worse time, Alexander says she will have to quickly adjust financially just to make ends meet in these next few months.
“We just now were getting back on our feet,” she said.