Trucking: the confidences of a small boss on the edge of the precipice

the essential
Yoyo diesel prices, fuel thefts, massive debts, a head of a small transport company in the north of Toulouse, in receivership, recounts the difficulty of managing his business in these times of great turbulence.


, 32 years old, inherited the company from his grandfather, a former farmer who later became a truck driver. “He was raising calves. He ran like crazy. One day his body said enough. At the age of 39 he had a heart attack. He had to change jobs. In a small village north of Toulouse he launched his company specializing in the transport of raw materials for construction (stones, asphalt, ed.). After the health crisis, the profession suffered an unprecedented shock that greatly altered the financial health of small structures. To give himself every chance of saving the company founded by his grandfather, he asked the commercial court to place his company in receivership. The “rescue” operation will be successful if the price of diesel does not reach new heights. “Our order book is full until October, after that we will see, but it is clear that if diesel still flies and exceeds 2.30 euros as in the worst period of the war in Ukraine, we are dead. At that time, it’s very simple, with every race, we lost money. When I think that companies like Total have generated record profits in this period and we little ones work so much, it makes me angry”, the father of the family gets annoyed.

Six fuel flights in one month

The commodity transportation market has become extremely volatile. “Our customers order the truck from us the day before for the next day, so it’s impossible to index the price of fuel to the service. So, inevitably, we reduce our margins,” explains Sylvain. The company’s liquidity had started to dwindle at the start of the pandemic. “I had to take out a PGE (state-guaranteed loan). It was the sine qua non to survive. We are repaying it and it is hurting our accounts a lot”, continues the transport professional. Like many of its counterparts, it has faced an unprecedented wave of fuel theft. “For example, in February I suffered six thefts. They arrive with a dozen cans each time. In the long run, that’s a lot of money. The last few times I didn’t even file a complaint. We still managed to catch two thieves. The gendarmes weren’t capable of this”, he whispers.

To stop the bleeding, Sylvain had to turn his factory into a little Fort Knox. “Between the latest perimeter cameras and alarms, it costs me 860 euros a month. I chose to rent because it is a very expensive piece of equipment and especially if the system is modernized, I will have access to the new device without paying anything extra,” he deciphers. An extra charge that would have done well… He hopes to get out of the routine by 2024 and recover investment capacity. “One thing I really regret is that at the local level we no longer help small businesses like mine. In the construction site of line 3 of the subway, the largest construction site today, there is nobody from the area. We appeal to funds from other regions, I find it a real shame”.

The name has been changed

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