Local truckers navigate record-high diesel gas prices, help fill supply chain gaps

Joel Brown Image
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Local truckers navigate record-high diesel gas prices
A retired Army veteran who started his own trucking company now facing record-high diesel gas prices but is determined to keep his trucks on the road because of the desperate need on store shelves.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- ABC11 is homing in on the cost of diesel fuel because it powers the trucks that deliver so many of the things we rely on. And it's not just giant shipping companies absorbing the pain of the sky-high diesel prices -- It's a lot of little guys too, small business owners including Mike Hawkes.

"It's a hard hit. It's a hard hit," Hawkes told ABC11.

It's only been four months since Hawkes, a Wake Forest resident, retired as a military logistics officer in the U.S. Army. Now, he's navigating the business world as the owner of his own trucking company, Impact Logistics.

"I'm hanging in there and keeping my guys hanging in there," Hawkes said about his company, which consists of six box trucks and a couple of big rigs. Hawkes owns some of the trucks. Others, he rents. All of them need to stay full of diesel fuel that's nearing record-high territory in North Carolina.

According to AAA, the current average for a gallon of diesel statewide is $5.75. One year ago it was $3.07.

"The average person driving 500 miles a day at five dollars sixty-some cents a gallon, you're talking about $250 per half tank. We don't let the (drivers) get past half," Hawkes explained.

He says if a driver texts him a picture of the truck's gas gauge that's nearing half full, Hawkes tells them to go fill up. Gas costs come out of the driver's take-home pay. It's cheaper for them to keep the tank close to full.

"You let your truck get past half, you're paying a car note just to keep moving," Hawkes said.

ABC11 asked Gas Buddy's Patrick de Haan about any potential signs of relief.

"There's not much relief in sight," said de Haan. "We may have to wait until September or October to see sizable relief. A very painful summer between now and then."

Back at the pumps, Hawkes is not complaining.

"We're resilient. We can make it through this," he said.

With supermarket shelves in desperate need of inventory, not to mention the ongoing baby formula shortage -- this trucking company owner says he feels a responsibility to stay on the road.

"I ran past a lady at the gas station she said, "thank you for doing what you do because I need bread. I need milk. I need necessities for my kids,'" Hawkes recalled. "My companies have vendors that are asking for this baby formula. 'When is the next shipment, when is the next shipment?' So all this week, all I've been doing is shipping formula."

ABC11 asked Hawkes whether he had any second thoughts about getting into the trucking business just as the price of gas and diesel shot through the roof. He admits he thought about it. But, he says it's a sacrifice for everyone. And he's satisfied to be filling a need.