JOHN L Pierce has announced a company shake-up, putting more than 30 drivers in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria from its general freight division out of work.
The road transport community was shocked by the stumbling of this company that has always been held in wide respect in the industry.
For over 65 years John L Pierce Transport has had a presence on Australia's highways, growing interstate in the mid-50s through its fuel distribution service.
Since that time, the company had continued to expand, setting up general freight and tanker depots outside of its home in Sydney, in both Brisbane, Melbourne and their regions.
A constant figure in transport, JLP was one of the few eastern companies to have made gains after the floods of 2010, reporting growth of 26% in 2011, according to SmartCompany.
However in late February a number of its 330 employees were notified that John L Pierce would discontinue its general freight division to focus solely on its tankers.
Owner John Pierce said a decision to change the direction of the generational family business was never an easy one.
"The reality is the business reviewed what it was doing, we have achieved significant growth in bulk fuel transport and believe there are further opportunities to grow," Mr Pierce said.
"The fuel division has been growing strongly over 15 years, while general freight hasn't had that same growth.
"So over the last 6-12 months we were looking at the business and how to focus on the direction we were taking."
Drivers at the Toowoomba, Girraween and Somerton depots were told of the shift at a brief morning meeting and have since received a formal letter detailing the changes.
"We have approached this with sensitivity and will continue to go to great lengths to take care of each individual," Mr Pierce said.
These redundancies are likely to affect over a dozen employees at the Toowoomba depot, a region which reported a growth in unemployment three times higher than the rest of Queensland.
Other local logistics contractors are expected to be impacted by the changes, however the extent will not be known until the final details are released.
Extra pressure will be placed on the already strained jobs market in Somerton, Victoria, which had a 6.8% unemployment rate at the last census.
General freight drivers have been told their work will continue for another month until the depots wind up.
As of Friday, April 7, all commercial general freight operations will cease and the general freight divisions, whose fleet of tautliner local, regional and interstate linehaul operations will be shut down. Mr Pierce confirmed discussions had been held with other parties in an attempt to sell the general freight business.
Drivers have been offered the option of redeployment into the tanker division, however would be required to relocated to either Newcastle, Sydney or Pinkenba in Queensland, and upgrade their to licences with a dangerous goods certificate.