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Business rolls on for trucking companies in Central Iowa

Contributed photo The trucking industry in Iowa and in Marshalltown has mostly escaped the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made many businesses in Iowa grind to a halt — most recently with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proclamation Sunday stating that hairdressers, spas and other businesses should close for a minimum period of two weeks. There has been no shelter-in-place order in the state as of yet, but the virus has led to uncertainty for some businesses and workers.

It’s not the case yet with Iowa’s trucking industry.

One of the trucking companies still in business in Marshalltown is SNT Trucking and Warehousing, which moves product for Lennox and other companies in the area.

SNT Trucking and Warehousing’s Ed Hughes said the company used to go across the country, but now stays in the state of Iowa — making operations during a pandemic a little easier.

“We’re still busy, we go to Webster City twice a day for Lennox,” Hughes said.

Hughes said the company has a warehouse as big as 280,000 square feet for Lennox, and while there has been a slight decrease in the frequency of trips, he said there is no thought of having to lay off employees. He said one of the ways some companies are staying safe is by making truckers take temperatures and sign in if they have to enter a building during a delivery, but that the lone-wolf nature of trucking makes it easier to continue doing business.

It’s in this way, Hughes said, that the trucking industry has been lucky during a tough stretch for Americans — and why it sees itself as important.

“You always think, ‘What’s going to happen?” Hughes said. “We haven’t laid anybody off and don’t intend to. I would say we are lucky.”

The trucking industry in Iowa employs upwards of 98,000 people, according to the Iowa Motor Truck Association.

The Iowa Motor Truck Association on March 19 detailed how its member businesses will continue to do their best to bring supplies and tools to Iowa stores and companies during the pandemic.

The association anticipates continuing to work closely with regulatory officials

“The trucking industry is always ready and willing to step up and get the job done in good times and in difficult times like we are experiencing now. We are always committed to delivering the products that are needed in a safe and professional manner, and now more than ever, we are committed to helping in every way possible to make sure Iowans have access to everything they need to survive the pandemic,” said Brenda Neville, President and CEO of the Iowa Motor Truck Association. “We are working closely with the governor’s office and many state and federal agencies to ensure that trucks can continue to move products safely and efficiently. Everyone has really stepped up and provided the resources and leadership that is needed as we deal with a lot of ‘unknowns’ and unique circumstances.”

Iowa Code Section 17 details trucking regulations that can be changed or suspended during a public health emergency “to the extent that those provisions restrict the movement of oversize and overweight loads of food, medical supplies, cleaning products and other household goods, and require a permit to transport such loads.”

This is supposed to allow such items to exceed normal weight limits in an effort to ensure that stores and other essential items do not experience a shortage.

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