Daseke Combats Trucker Shortage with Stock Plan

May 25, 2017 by Tiffany Hsu, @tiffkhsu

Trucking company Daseke Inc. is starting what it calls a “ground-breaking” strategy to get its employees invested – literally – in the company.

The Addison, Tex., business, which says it’s the largest owner of open-deck flatbed transportation in North America, announced a stock awards plan that would allow the company’s drivers and support team workers to essentially become shareholders.

Daseke is setting aside a million shares of common stock currently valued at nearly $10 million for the 2,100 drivers and 800 support staff that have been on board since 2016. More will be earmarked for employees joining the team this year.

“In our industry, professional truck drivers truly are the heart and soul of everything we do,” Chief Executive Don Daseke said in a statement. “We want professional truck drivers and all our support team employees to have ownership in Daseke.”

The program allocates restricted stock units for workers who have served with Daseke for at least one financial quarter, giving them the right to receive common stock. The so-called stock grants will complement Daseke’s existing benefits package, which includes a 4 percent 401k match investment match and health insurance.

Daseke and others in the industry are looking for ways to recruit and retrain drivers amid a trucker shortage. Driver wages surged 7.8 percent year over year in October in the largest jump in pay among 60 common professions, according to job search website Glassdoor.com.

Driver turnover at large truckload fleets is at 71 percent, the American Trucking Associations said in March. The relatively low figure “reflects the overall choppiness of the freight market,” said Bob Costello, chief economist for the trade group.

“As inventory levels throughout the supply chain are drawn down to more normal levels, and freight volumes recover, we should see turnover rise along with concerns about the driver shortage,” he said.

Daseke said it is the first trucking company of its kind to attempt a stock plan perk. When the business went public earlier this year – the first in its sector to list since 2010, it was valued at about $700 million.

Trading opened at $10 a share on Nasdaq in late February, but the price has fluttered around that marker since. Proceeds from the IPO have gone to fund Daseke’s ongoing acquisition frenzy. It closed Wednesday at $9.91.

Earlier this month, the company added open deck businesses Schilli Companies in Indiana and Big Freight Systems in Manitoba, Canada to its fast-growing roster. The acquisitions expanded the company’s holdings to more than 3,500 tractors, 7,300 trailers and 1.1 million square feet in logistics, warehousing and distribution facilities.

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