Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Overland Park-based YRC Worldwide rolls with economy’s changes

YRC Worldwide Inc. cut more than 10 percent of its work force in the first three months of the year.

While discussing its first-quarter financial results with analysts last week, officials said YRC Worldwide laid off about 5,700 employees companywide in the period. The job reductions were due to the weak economy affecting business and also because of operations merging as YRC combined its two national carriers, Yellow Transportation and Roadway.

YRC has its headquarters in Overland Park and operates three truck terminals in the area. A company spokesman said a breakdown of the layoffs by area was not yet available.

YRC Worldwide had about 55,000 employees at the end of 2008, according to a recent regulatory filing. The employment level after the most recent reductions also means the company has about 11,000 fewer employees than it did this time last year, said Bill Zollars, YRC’s chairman and chief executive.

Although the size of YRC’s local work force has declined, the area has managed to avoid any facility closings. YRC, the name of the merged national trucking firm, continues to operate two area terminals. USF Holland, a regional carrier operated by the company, also has kept an area terminal.

USF Holland, which operates mainly in the Midwest, has been hit particularly hard by the production cuts and plant closings in the auto industry. Zollars said the company recently announced that Holland would close five more terminals.

One analyst asked whether the decision by General Motors Corp. to close many plants in the spring and summer, along with the potential of GM and Chrysler filing bankruptcy, would affect YRC Worldwide’s results.

“Our corporate exposure to the auto industry is not significant, but there is more exposure in Holland,” Zollars said. As a result, Holland is trying to diversify its customer base, he said.

Zollars said it was unclear whether business had bottomed out for the freight industry, a sector that usually acts as a leading indicator for the overall economy.

With the recent merger, YRC has made strides in customer service and productivity, both of which should continue to improve, he said.

“But the wild card is the economy,” he said. “We’ve sort of seen a couple of head fakes in the past when we thought the economy stabilized, and then it took another step down. There are a lot of new parts here, and it’s too early to make any kind of call on the second quarter.”

No comments: